Bitesize Episode 78 - The Wit and Wisdom of 'How to Be a Brit': George Mikes' Cultural Insights

Embark with Charlie on a journey through the pages of George Mikes' "How to Be a Brit," a witty exploration of the disparities between British and European cultural customs. From the leisurely ambiance of Sundays to the peculiar intricacies of fork etiquette and the renowned British wit, Mikes' observations offer a delightful expedition into the idiosyncrasies and traditions of English life.
Apr 26 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

n this episode, Charlie explores George Mikes' "How to Be a Brit," a witty book comparing British and European cultural habits. From casual Sundays to unique fork use and British sarcasm, Mikes' insights offer a fun and enlightening look at English quirks and traditions.

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Transcript of Bitesize EP 78 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the British English Podcast. In this one, I am going to be introducing you to a book called How to Be a Brit by George Mikes. Um, I picked up a few of these anthropology based books when I started this podcast three or more years ago. Um, and I'm returning to them to see what I might have missed as I didn't do them all justice by any means. So let's see. Um, well, I suppose before we read his book, maybe we should know a little bit about him or learn a little bit about him. So George Mikes was born in 1912, 1912. Okay. Um, which is quite a long time ago, I guess. Yeah. Uh, and he was from Hungary. From Siklos, Hungary. Siklos. I don't know if that's the right pronunciation. So, yeah. 1912 that's actually I mean, I don't know, but I would guess that's a pretty terrible time to be born, just before the Great War in 1914, I think, which lasted four or five years. Um, yeah. Not a great start, is it? Very, um, very air raid-y. Um, yeah. air raidy definitely not a word air raidy, but still something to learn from that, because natives add a Y on a lot of nouns to make them into adjectives. Um, an informal one, definitely, but yes. Uh air raidy. So lots of gas masks or a lot of time wearing one maybe as a kid and then his teenage years, um, probably seeing the world around him try to bounce back from all of the destruction it got itself into.

Charlie:
Um, but then he's got I guess 20 years, uh, before the Second World War gets going. Um, so in that period, he apparently studied law and received his doctorate at Budapest University, but then became a journalist and was sent to London as a correspondent to cover the Munich crisis. Um, see, that seems to me like he's going away from the the the action. But, um, I guess. Yeah, I guess you can't have a pen as your weapon of choice if you're on the front line. I know you know the Munich crisis. That was before the actual war, I suppose. But he came to the UK for a fortnight, but stayed on and made England his home. Um. I wonder what charmed him within those two weeks. Got to be a girl, right? Actually, given that decade, I was made aware of how British roast beef was known as the best in the world before the Second World War. I'll probably need to do another episode on that now that I've learnt about this, about the fall of British cuisine, because that's an interesting one. But, um, yeah. So George Mikes, uh, probably fell in love with the British roast beef and an English rose and apparently worked for the BBC Hungarian service in the in England until the 50s. So, yeah, in other words, he's an outsider looking in from mainland Europe, but spends the majority of his life in England, which allows for him to be in a great position to notice the differences and similarities in cultures.

Charlie:
So nice. Yeah. Um, let's let's read from his book. I'll be interested to see if this book has stood the test of time because it was published in the 80s. Okay, so it reads: In England, everything is the other way round. On Sundays on the continent, even the poorest person puts on his best suit, tries to look respectable, and at the same time, uh, the life of the country becomes gay and cheerful. In England, even the richest peer or motor manufacturer dresses in some peculiar rags, does not shave, and the country becomes dull and dreary. Okay. I mean, sure, we love to shop at JD sports in preparation for a true day of chilling out in front of the telly, uh, on a Sunday. And not because it's, you know, the day of rest. It's not a religious reason for us, particularly any more. Um, I mean, it's probably more likely because we've been out drinking on the Saturday and, and are wanting to watch the footy on telly on Sunday. Yeah. But yeah, honestly, I didn't know this about the English in comparison to mainland Europe with the Sunday dress code. I'd be interested to know if anyone listening can attest to this. I'd imagine this cultural norm has has faded away, as has the usage of the word gay to mean happy. So the word gay typically nowadays means homosexual.

Charlie:
But in the past it meant happy. My auntie is in fact called Gay. And, um, I actually played golf with her recently and we bumped into another lady who was called Gay, and I was resisting the urge to try and come up with a witty remark or pun for quite a while. So I just, you know, I walked away and screamed four at the top of my lungs to some bystanders instead. But uh, yeah, back to the point of the word, the language he used and the comparison seems a bit outdated. So let's see what else he has to say.

Charlie:
On the continent, there is one topic which should be avoided: the weather. In England, if you do not repeat the phrase 'lovely day, isn't it?' at least 200 times a day you are considered a bit dull. That is spot on. I've actually noticed how much I use this word lovely. I'm even wanting to consciously brainstorm other words to swap out for this. What could I say? I mean delightful, gorgeous, stunning. Yeah, wonderful, amazing. And I suppose we also play with antonyms quite a bit and co-locate them with opposing words so you could say something was terribly beautiful or disgustingly good or horribly nice. The last two are a bit more, um, up to date than the first one. The first one, terribly beautiful, is a bit my father's generation, I guess, but yeah, disgustingly good. That's my generation. And it's all. It's all with a subtle tone of sarcasm. Subtle. And the more I know someone, the more subtle I do it. Yeah, yeah, I just noticed that. Yeah, the more I know them, the more subtle the dry sort of delivery would be.

Charlie:
Okay, come on, let's see what George has to say. Um, beyond that. On the continent, Sunday papers appear on Monday in England, a country of exotic oddities. They appear on Sunday. Well that's weird. Why do or did the Sunday papers arrive a day late on the continent? The Sunday paper is for the for Sunday, right? Seems logical how the English people have done it.

Charlie:
Um, on the continent, people use a fork as though a fork were a shovel. In England they turn it upside down and push everything, including peas on top of it. Hmm. So this is accurate about how we use our forks, but I'm disappointed to hear that the rest of Europe don't do this. I think they do. Yeah. So the internet says George is wrong. And as I suspected, it is the European way to eat with your fork prongs pointed down. It is the American way to turn it around and treat it like a dirty, great shovel. Oh, George, you're out of touch.

Charlie:
Okay, let's keep going. On a continental bus approaching a request stop, the conductor rings the bell if he wants his bus to go on without stopping. In England you ring the bell if you want the bus to stop. This is fun. But again, I've lived in Germany and and didn't notice this. I mean, we rarely we rarely have a conductor these days, do we? I don't know, I wonder if any country has a conductor still, but, um, perhaps it's an old fashioned thing. Yeah. I can't imagine that this is the case still.

Charlie:
I wonder what caused the need for a conductor in the first place and what replaced their role or what reason they were replaced. I would imagine automation is the best one word to describe why. Yeah, probably, we should have seen AI coming back then, shouldn't we? Uh, but yes, the automation of of fare collection systems, better mirrors and oh, and the bus driver is now able to open and close the doors from their seat. Yeah, okay. Makes sense. Sorry, conductors, if you enjoyed your job, but you've been replaced.

Charlie:
Alright, back to George. On the continent, stray cats are judged individually on their merit. Some are loved and some are only respected. In England, they are universally worshipped, as in ancient Egypt. Hmm. I'm not sure if we would, um, enslave a group of people to build 70 metre high limestone versions of cats. But I guess I see his point. We do like cats. We do like dogs. We really like dogs. It's a very big divide. But I think this is not particularly British. Um, let me just check. Wow. We have 10 million. We have over 10 million cats in the UK at the moment.

Charlie:
Although it says both the UK and mainland Europe are averaging one cat for every six people. Huh. That's interesting. One cat for every six people. I just thought of the cat bin lady video that went viral ten or so years ago. I mean, it's not funny, but a lady who to me looked clearly miffed with life or with how life was going for her, uh, was caught on CCTV grabbing a cat by the scruff of its neck and dropping it into someone's wheelie bin and closing the lid on it. So, um, yeah, I guess she doesn't respect cats as much as the ancient Egyptians did, but, uh, yeah. Interesting point, George.

Charlie:
Okay, so he goes on to say: on the continent, people have good food. In England, people have good table manners. That was a nice way of indirectly shitting on our cuisine. I mean, it depends on the demographic, but, um, my first girlfriend, I took her back to my parents' house, and I could see my dad's face when she picked up her cutlery. Um, yeah. It wasn't. It wasn't his preference, let's say. Rather priceless, actually, to witness that. But generally, I'd say we we do have good table manners. And yes, our food is not as good as European food. I mean, London has it all now, so if you want good food, I'd say London is probably one of the best places in the world to get good food, because there's just everything of a really, really good standard.

Charlie:
On the continent, public orators try to learn to speak fluently and smoothly. In England, they take a special course in Oxonian stuttering. Hmm. Okay, um, I'm guessing orator means public speaker. Let me check. Okay. Yes, yes it does. And Oxonian stuttering essentially is getting at how really posh people often repeat themselves like, um. Oh, oh dear boy. No. Well, the thing, the the thing is. Yes. So we'll, we'll be doing, um, this and then we'll be repeating ourselves and perhaps stuttering, uh, to accentuate my poshness. Something like that. Um, to be clear, though, Oxonian is the, the demonym, um, for people from Oxford and, um, demonyms are what all these nouns for groups of people are like a Londoner, a Parisian, a New Yorker. But as old George showed us you can use it as an adjective, too. An Oxonian stuttering. So nice. Yeah. With the word demonym, though, I had never heard of such a word until I became a true nerd. So, uh, judge a crowd before you drop the demonym bomb on people. Alternatively, you could just say, uh, what are people from Sydney called? Or, uh, is there a nickname for people from New Zealand, that kind of thing. You could you could get around it like that if you wanted to ask what is the demonym of Liverpool, which is Liverpudlian, Liverpudlian or Scouser. That's their nickname.

Charlie:
Um, okay. George says: on the continent, learned persons love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge. In England, only uneducated people show off their knowledge. Nobody quotes Latin and Greek authors in the course of a conversation unless he has never read them. Hmm. This is interesting. So I went to a state school and went to university. I read psychology at an okay university and I got an okay grade. Nothing to show off about by any means. And so my circle of friends growing up were naturally somewhere around that level of education, just so you know. And I'd say we've gotten a bit thick or just much less appreciative of the finer things in life. Uh, it might be sad for you to hear, but we don't care much for Shakespeare. We only really know Charles Dickens through his works, through the musicals and plays we went to as kids, and most of us haven't even read George Orwell's works. I mean, I even wonder how many read Harry Potter in comparison to watched the films. I personally read them, but I was a bit too obsessed with them, and that was pretty much my teenage years reading those books. But is this obvious to you? The world is getting busier every day and so the past is fading into the background even faster. Probably not. That's probably global culture. Um, so I don't know if the average Brit doesn't quote Aristotle to be humble. However, I do see a hangover here, a cultural one, and we don't like to come across as pretentious or sound too educated, especially when people are educated.

Charlie:
Yeah, when people are educated, they really do want to hide it or just, you know, not bring it to the surface, make it something that is just loosely apparent. I think that's the aim for an educated person. That's my guess.

Charlie:
On the continent, almost every nation, whether little or great, has openly declared at one time or another that it is superior to all other nations. The English fight heroic wars to combat these dangerous ideas, without ever mentioning which is really the most superior race in the world. Well, my generation has been taught to certainly never brag about being British. Um, we're coming off the back of the largest empire in history that colonised over 50 sovereign states. So yeah, that makes me feel uncomfortable to ever even think this. But either way, I can see his point here.

Charlie:
Continental people are sensitive and touchy. The English take everything with an exquisite sense of humour. They are only offended if you tell them that they have no sense of humour. Yeah, I think we do pride ourselves in having a sense of humour. So to diss this would be a bit like telling the French that they they can't make good wine, or the Italians that they don't know how to make pizza, and we are more calm and less passionate or, dare I say, hot headed than some mainland European nations that I will not call out. So yeah, I kind of get that.

Charlie:
On the continent, the population consists of a small percentage of criminals, a small percentage of honest people, and the rest are a vague transition between the two. In England, you find a small percentage of criminals and the rest are honest people. Um, this is news to me, but I like it. I mean, it's a bit of a compliment, isn't it? I mean, it depends how many criminals we have, but I do see kindness from the majority of people. And, yeah, you can trust the general. I think you can trust the general public. I don't know, I mean, in London you... Can you? It's tricky. Tricky. I'll leave that to simmer.

Charlie:
And we will end with the final two thoughts to this bit in the book. It's not really a chapter. It's just a little warning of, uh, George Mikes' work. So he says, on the other hand, people on the continent either tell you the truth or lie. In England, they hardly ever lie, but they would not dream of telling you the truth. Hmm. Okay, so yeah, comparing the criminal versus honest one with the truth and lie one. Nice. Um, so yeah, we really, really, really will never tell you the truth. And having had years of communication with students from mainland Europe, I really do notice how they are more comfortable telling the truth and being direct. And as much as I want to fight this silly indirect dance we do, I do find it rude when someone is direct with me.

Charlie:
I can't help it. It's so silly, but I my initial reaction is that was rude. That was rude. It was direct. That was rude. But yeah, I need to get over it. Really need to get over it. But yeah. God, this is this is probably a course on its own. But basically if you if you want to give constructive feedback to a Brit without offending them, even in a professional setting, you need to do it with humour. That's my best piece of advice. But yeah, there's there's a whole world of advice around that probably.

Charlie:
Oh one, one more thing, he says. Many Continentals think life is a game. The English think cricket is a game. Love it. Again, a nice indirect message there about what we consider a sport. And, uh, yeah, I guess he's telling us we take life too seriously? Is that what he's. Yeah, I guess maybe. Maybe. Yeah. Alright. Well, that was a tiny little part before the introduction of George Mikes' How to Be a Brit book. So no spoilers. And yeah, I imagine that it would be a fun read for you, which is available in all the usual ways online nowadays and probably in your local bookstore. But we will leave it there for today. Well done for getting to the end of this episode. Thanks again for choosing to learn about British culture and British English with me, Charlie Baxter. I'll see you next week on the British English Podcast.

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Transcript of Bitesize EP 78 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the British English Podcast. In this one, I am going to be introducing you to a book called How to Be a Brit by George Mikes. Um, I picked up a few of these anthropology based books when I started this podcast three or more years ago. Um, and I'm returning to them to see what I might have missed as I didn't do them all justice by any means. So let's see. Um, well, I suppose before we read his book, maybe we should know a little bit about him or learn a little bit about him. So George Mikes was born in 1912, 1912. Okay. Um, which is quite a long time ago, I guess. Yeah. Uh, and he was from Hungary. From Siklos, Hungary. Siklos. I don't know if that's the right pronunciation. So, yeah. 1912 that's actually I mean, I don't know, but I would guess that's a pretty terrible time to be born, just before the Great War in 1914, I think, which lasted four or five years. Um, yeah. Not a great start, is it? Very, um, very air raid-y. Um, yeah. air raidy definitely not a word air raidy, but still something to learn from that, because natives add a Y on a lot of nouns to make them into adjectives. Um, an informal one, definitely, but yes. Uh air raidy. So lots of gas masks or a lot of time wearing one maybe as a kid and then his teenage years, um, probably seeing the world around him try to bounce back from all of the destruction it got itself into.

Charlie:
Um, but then he's got I guess 20 years, uh, before the Second World War gets going. Um, so in that period, he apparently studied law and received his doctorate at Budapest University, but then became a journalist and was sent to London as a correspondent to cover the Munich crisis. Um, see, that seems to me like he's going away from the the the action. But, um, I guess. Yeah, I guess you can't have a pen as your weapon of choice if you're on the front line. I know you know the Munich crisis. That was before the actual war, I suppose. But he came to the UK for a fortnight, but stayed on and made England his home. Um. I wonder what charmed him within those two weeks. Got to be a girl, right? Actually, given that decade, I was made aware of how British roast beef was known as the best in the world before the Second World War. I'll probably need to do another episode on that now that I've learnt about this, about the fall of British cuisine, because that's an interesting one. But, um, yeah. So George Mikes, uh, probably fell in love with the British roast beef and an English rose and apparently worked for the BBC Hungarian service in the in England until the 50s. So, yeah, in other words, he's an outsider looking in from mainland Europe, but spends the majority of his life in England, which allows for him to be in a great position to notice the differences and similarities in cultures.

Charlie:
So nice. Yeah. Um, let's let's read from his book. I'll be interested to see if this book has stood the test of time because it was published in the 80s. Okay, so it reads: In England, everything is the other way round. On Sundays on the continent, even the poorest person puts on his best suit, tries to look respectable, and at the same time, uh, the life of the country becomes gay and cheerful. In England, even the richest peer or motor manufacturer dresses in some peculiar rags, does not shave, and the country becomes dull and dreary. Okay. I mean, sure, we love to shop at JD sports in preparation for a true day of chilling out in front of the telly, uh, on a Sunday. And not because it's, you know, the day of rest. It's not a religious reason for us, particularly any more. Um, I mean, it's probably more likely because we've been out drinking on the Saturday and, and are wanting to watch the footy on telly on Sunday. Yeah. But yeah, honestly, I didn't know this about the English in comparison to mainland Europe with the Sunday dress code. I'd be interested to know if anyone listening can attest to this. I'd imagine this cultural norm has has faded away, as has the usage of the word gay to mean happy. So the word gay typically nowadays means homosexual.

Charlie:
But in the past it meant happy. My auntie is in fact called Gay. And, um, I actually played golf with her recently and we bumped into another lady who was called Gay, and I was resisting the urge to try and come up with a witty remark or pun for quite a while. So I just, you know, I walked away and screamed four at the top of my lungs to some bystanders instead. But uh, yeah, back to the point of the word, the language he used and the comparison seems a bit outdated. So let's see what else he has to say.

Charlie:
On the continent, there is one topic which should be avoided: the weather. In England, if you do not repeat the phrase 'lovely day, isn't it?' at least 200 times a day you are considered a bit dull. That is spot on. I've actually noticed how much I use this word lovely. I'm even wanting to consciously brainstorm other words to swap out for this. What could I say? I mean delightful, gorgeous, stunning. Yeah, wonderful, amazing. And I suppose we also play with antonyms quite a bit and co-locate them with opposing words so you could say something was terribly beautiful or disgustingly good or horribly nice. The last two are a bit more, um, up to date than the first one. The first one, terribly beautiful, is a bit my father's generation, I guess, but yeah, disgustingly good. That's my generation. And it's all. It's all with a subtle tone of sarcasm. Subtle. And the more I know someone, the more subtle I do it. Yeah, yeah, I just noticed that. Yeah, the more I know them, the more subtle the dry sort of delivery would be.

Charlie:
Okay, come on, let's see what George has to say. Um, beyond that. On the continent, Sunday papers appear on Monday in England, a country of exotic oddities. They appear on Sunday. Well that's weird. Why do or did the Sunday papers arrive a day late on the continent? The Sunday paper is for the for Sunday, right? Seems logical how the English people have done it.

Charlie:
Um, on the continent, people use a fork as though a fork were a shovel. In England they turn it upside down and push everything, including peas on top of it. Hmm. So this is accurate about how we use our forks, but I'm disappointed to hear that the rest of Europe don't do this. I think they do. Yeah. So the internet says George is wrong. And as I suspected, it is the European way to eat with your fork prongs pointed down. It is the American way to turn it around and treat it like a dirty, great shovel. Oh, George, you're out of touch.

Charlie:
Okay, let's keep going. On a continental bus approaching a request stop, the conductor rings the bell if he wants his bus to go on without stopping. In England you ring the bell if you want the bus to stop. This is fun. But again, I've lived in Germany and and didn't notice this. I mean, we rarely we rarely have a conductor these days, do we? I don't know, I wonder if any country has a conductor still, but, um, perhaps it's an old fashioned thing. Yeah. I can't imagine that this is the case still.

Charlie:
I wonder what caused the need for a conductor in the first place and what replaced their role or what reason they were replaced. I would imagine automation is the best one word to describe why. Yeah, probably, we should have seen AI coming back then, shouldn't we? Uh, but yes, the automation of of fare collection systems, better mirrors and oh, and the bus driver is now able to open and close the doors from their seat. Yeah, okay. Makes sense. Sorry, conductors, if you enjoyed your job, but you've been replaced.

Charlie:
Alright, back to George. On the continent, stray cats are judged individually on their merit. Some are loved and some are only respected. In England, they are universally worshipped, as in ancient Egypt. Hmm. I'm not sure if we would, um, enslave a group of people to build 70 metre high limestone versions of cats. But I guess I see his point. We do like cats. We do like dogs. We really like dogs. It's a very big divide. But I think this is not particularly British. Um, let me just check. Wow. We have 10 million. We have over 10 million cats in the UK at the moment.

Charlie:
Although it says both the UK and mainland Europe are averaging one cat for every six people. Huh. That's interesting. One cat for every six people. I just thought of the cat bin lady video that went viral ten or so years ago. I mean, it's not funny, but a lady who to me looked clearly miffed with life or with how life was going for her, uh, was caught on CCTV grabbing a cat by the scruff of its neck and dropping it into someone's wheelie bin and closing the lid on it. So, um, yeah, I guess she doesn't respect cats as much as the ancient Egyptians did, but, uh, yeah. Interesting point, George.

Charlie:
Okay, so he goes on to say: on the continent, people have good food. In England, people have good table manners. That was a nice way of indirectly shitting on our cuisine. I mean, it depends on the demographic, but, um, my first girlfriend, I took her back to my parents' house, and I could see my dad's face when she picked up her cutlery. Um, yeah. It wasn't. It wasn't his preference, let's say. Rather priceless, actually, to witness that. But generally, I'd say we we do have good table manners. And yes, our food is not as good as European food. I mean, London has it all now, so if you want good food, I'd say London is probably one of the best places in the world to get good food, because there's just everything of a really, really good standard.

Charlie:
On the continent, public orators try to learn to speak fluently and smoothly. In England, they take a special course in Oxonian stuttering. Hmm. Okay, um, I'm guessing orator means public speaker. Let me check. Okay. Yes, yes it does. And Oxonian stuttering essentially is getting at how really posh people often repeat themselves like, um. Oh, oh dear boy. No. Well, the thing, the the thing is. Yes. So we'll, we'll be doing, um, this and then we'll be repeating ourselves and perhaps stuttering, uh, to accentuate my poshness. Something like that. Um, to be clear, though, Oxonian is the, the demonym, um, for people from Oxford and, um, demonyms are what all these nouns for groups of people are like a Londoner, a Parisian, a New Yorker. But as old George showed us you can use it as an adjective, too. An Oxonian stuttering. So nice. Yeah. With the word demonym, though, I had never heard of such a word until I became a true nerd. So, uh, judge a crowd before you drop the demonym bomb on people. Alternatively, you could just say, uh, what are people from Sydney called? Or, uh, is there a nickname for people from New Zealand, that kind of thing. You could you could get around it like that if you wanted to ask what is the demonym of Liverpool, which is Liverpudlian, Liverpudlian or Scouser. That's their nickname.

Charlie:
Um, okay. George says: on the continent, learned persons love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge. In England, only uneducated people show off their knowledge. Nobody quotes Latin and Greek authors in the course of a conversation unless he has never read them. Hmm. This is interesting. So I went to a state school and went to university. I read psychology at an okay university and I got an okay grade. Nothing to show off about by any means. And so my circle of friends growing up were naturally somewhere around that level of education, just so you know. And I'd say we've gotten a bit thick or just much less appreciative of the finer things in life. Uh, it might be sad for you to hear, but we don't care much for Shakespeare. We only really know Charles Dickens through his works, through the musicals and plays we went to as kids, and most of us haven't even read George Orwell's works. I mean, I even wonder how many read Harry Potter in comparison to watched the films. I personally read them, but I was a bit too obsessed with them, and that was pretty much my teenage years reading those books. But is this obvious to you? The world is getting busier every day and so the past is fading into the background even faster. Probably not. That's probably global culture. Um, so I don't know if the average Brit doesn't quote Aristotle to be humble. However, I do see a hangover here, a cultural one, and we don't like to come across as pretentious or sound too educated, especially when people are educated.

Charlie:
Yeah, when people are educated, they really do want to hide it or just, you know, not bring it to the surface, make it something that is just loosely apparent. I think that's the aim for an educated person. That's my guess.

Charlie:
On the continent, almost every nation, whether little or great, has openly declared at one time or another that it is superior to all other nations. The English fight heroic wars to combat these dangerous ideas, without ever mentioning which is really the most superior race in the world. Well, my generation has been taught to certainly never brag about being British. Um, we're coming off the back of the largest empire in history that colonised over 50 sovereign states. So yeah, that makes me feel uncomfortable to ever even think this. But either way, I can see his point here.

Charlie:
Continental people are sensitive and touchy. The English take everything with an exquisite sense of humour. They are only offended if you tell them that they have no sense of humour. Yeah, I think we do pride ourselves in having a sense of humour. So to diss this would be a bit like telling the French that they they can't make good wine, or the Italians that they don't know how to make pizza, and we are more calm and less passionate or, dare I say, hot headed than some mainland European nations that I will not call out. So yeah, I kind of get that.

Charlie:
On the continent, the population consists of a small percentage of criminals, a small percentage of honest people, and the rest are a vague transition between the two. In England, you find a small percentage of criminals and the rest are honest people. Um, this is news to me, but I like it. I mean, it's a bit of a compliment, isn't it? I mean, it depends how many criminals we have, but I do see kindness from the majority of people. And, yeah, you can trust the general. I think you can trust the general public. I don't know, I mean, in London you... Can you? It's tricky. Tricky. I'll leave that to simmer.

Charlie:
And we will end with the final two thoughts to this bit in the book. It's not really a chapter. It's just a little warning of, uh, George Mikes' work. So he says, on the other hand, people on the continent either tell you the truth or lie. In England, they hardly ever lie, but they would not dream of telling you the truth. Hmm. Okay, so yeah, comparing the criminal versus honest one with the truth and lie one. Nice. Um, so yeah, we really, really, really will never tell you the truth. And having had years of communication with students from mainland Europe, I really do notice how they are more comfortable telling the truth and being direct. And as much as I want to fight this silly indirect dance we do, I do find it rude when someone is direct with me.

Charlie:
I can't help it. It's so silly, but I my initial reaction is that was rude. That was rude. It was direct. That was rude. But yeah, I need to get over it. Really need to get over it. But yeah. God, this is this is probably a course on its own. But basically if you if you want to give constructive feedback to a Brit without offending them, even in a professional setting, you need to do it with humour. That's my best piece of advice. But yeah, there's there's a whole world of advice around that probably.

Charlie:
Oh one, one more thing, he says. Many Continentals think life is a game. The English think cricket is a game. Love it. Again, a nice indirect message there about what we consider a sport. And, uh, yeah, I guess he's telling us we take life too seriously? Is that what he's. Yeah, I guess maybe. Maybe. Yeah. Alright. Well, that was a tiny little part before the introduction of George Mikes' How to Be a Brit book. So no spoilers. And yeah, I imagine that it would be a fun read for you, which is available in all the usual ways online nowadays and probably in your local bookstore. But we will leave it there for today. Well done for getting to the end of this episode. Thanks again for choosing to learn about British culture and British English with me, Charlie Baxter. I'll see you next week on the British English Podcast.

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