How To Fail at Being a Brit

With the birth of a new princess, the countdown to Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest serving monarch in history and the upcoming General Election, the country is in the throes of analysing and celebrating all that is British.

However, according to how we are stereotypically portrayed around the world, I am clearly failing at being a Brit:

12 Reasons Wy I am Rubbish at Being English

1. I have good teeth, and I go to the dentist. They are’t brown or crooked, they don’t stick out and I have them all, unlike the snaggle-toothed lovelies that are always shown on the television.

2. I don’t live in London. It always makes me smile when I am abroad, and their response when they find out that I’m English is “ooh, where in London are you from.” Contrary to popular belief, England is made of millions of towns and cities that are nowhere near London. While I love the city, I live over a hundred miles away.

3. I don’t live in a castle. I live in a little terraced house with a small garden – it’s my own little castle but hardly along the same scale as Windsor. I don’t think I would like to live in a castle anyway – the heating bills alone would be a bitch.

4. I don’t know the Queen, nor am I best friends with Prince William. I am very much a royalist, but I don’t have Prince Harry’s phone number. I’m sure they’re lovely, and I’m certain that if we lived down the road from each other we would be popping round to each others houses all the time, but I have never met any of them. I have, however, met Prince Edward when some of my students did a performance for him. Nice bloke. He seemed a bit quiet, but I bet he’s a scream after a couple of pints.

5. I don’t own a Union Jack item of clothing. However, if I did, I wouldn’t be camping outside a hospital whilst wearing it, waving banners and screaming at television cameras, waiting for a baby to be born.

6. I don’t use red telephone boxes. In fact, it’s very rare that you’ll see any British person using these to make a phonecall. This serves as a place for urinating after a drunken night out, or for tourists to have their photographs taken in.

7. I don’t like tea. My father and grandfather had an obsession with the stuff and would spend their days making endless cups. I, however, think it tastes like socks. Don’t ask me how I know that.


8. I have never watched an episode of Downton Abbey. Try not to fall off your chair. Dame Maggie Smith is a legend, but it just doesn’t interest me.

9. I don’t speak like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, nor like a member of the Royal Family. I grew up in the north of England, which means that I have quite a thick Lancashire accent. If you want to gain an idea, watch a Peter Kay stand up show on YouTube – he is from the same town as me. Common. As. Muck.

10. I’m not a snob. I don’t care how much money you earn, where you’re from and what you own. If you’re an arsehole, you’re an arsehole, whether you’re a rich or poor arsehole.

11. I don’t like football, or come to think of it, cricket or golf. My sister and father are huge Manchester United fans, I grew up near the Bolton Wanderers Stadium, I can tell you what offside is and of course, I’ll watch the World Cup matches. However, I will roll my eyes when I hear the word ‘soccer.’ Take heed.

12. I think English cuisine is lovely and I am more than willing to try food from all over the world. Yes, I have been known to chow down on a face-full of fish and chips in my time, but I have also eaten lots beautiful food at restaurants all around the country. And, to be fair, if you can’t eat a Yorkshire pudding or a crumpet with a smile on your face and a glow in your heart then there is something wrong with you…

13. I can’t queue. I hate them, as I always seem to get stuck between the impatient woman who is tutting, huffing and loudly complaining, and the man with a cold who keeps sneezing into my hair. Where possible, I’ll go away and come back when the queue has gone. Unless I’m queuing to get into a Bon Jovi concert. I never mind queuing for that.


14. I have never worn a bowler hat and I don’t carry a large black umbrella around with me. Nor has anyone I have ever met. In fact, the only people that I have ever seen wearing them are characters in 1950’s films. Oh, and Matt Smith…

What about you? What stereotypes are assumed about you because of your nationality?

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96 thoughts on “How To Fail at Being a Brit

  1. That I should be tall, blonde and blue-eyed because I’m Scandinavian! Sigh.
    Or do I live in a normal house? WTF is a ‘normal’ house? I have wall, doors, windows and a roof.
    Do I have a geysir in my back garden? No! It would be a death trap.
    Do I eat weird foods? You say potato, I say potato.

  2. I’m Australian and most people assume we have kangaroos everywhere (like free ranging through the city) and we all wear akubra hats like Crocodile Dundee. We don’t say “throw another shrimp on the barbie” either! 🙂

      • I have to admit, this IS how I picture Australians…lol. But it’s only because I’m envious and want to be a hot blond surfer.

        Come to think of it if I really wanted to be, I could. I could work out and die my hair blonde and take surf lessons. But I still wouldn’t have the cool accent (I bet Aussies think our American accents are really silly)!

  3. Although ‘Northern’ isn’t a nationality, I think I live up to some of the milder northern stereotypes. I don’t own a whippet, wear a flat cap or work in a mine but I should definitely eat more leaves and wear a coat on a night out in mid-January…

    • As a northerner myself, I can totally relate. Make sure you throw the odd ‘eeh by eck!’ into your sentences occasionally just to confuse people though… Always a laugh!

  4. I hear that all Canadians are super nice and don’t swear . . .%^&*( kiss my…^&*(). Ah and we have a good sense of humour!

    • Haha! I must admit, I’ve never been to Canada and have only met one or two Canadians, but all accounts I’ve heard is that you guys are indeed a lovely group of people… who say ‘abooot’ a lot…

  5. LOL, love the Matt Smith pic. I do love me all things British. Like you said, I know there are lots of other different, interesting and beautiful places in England, but when I think England I think London. It’s funny you wrote this today. My original top ten list was going to be ten stereotypes about New Yorkers. We sort of suffer from a lot of similar misperceptions. I probably live in the New York equivalent of Lancashire and I don’t speak with a Brooklyn (movie New York cab driver) accent.

  6. Yes and I live several miles from Detroit, MI and yet I have never been in a riot, turned over a Police Car during the celebration of one our sports team’s victories. And whatever else people think that people from Detroit are or should be! Oh but I HAVE streamed Downton Abbey on my computer as I also do not own a television and haven’t for about 16 years…

  7. I’m an American living in Cornwall, so I’ve messed up the stereotypes already. I drink tea. I gave up coffee years ago–long before I moved to Britain. But I do still have the accent.

  8. I have red hair, and I’m part Irish. People assume I have a terrible temper, I drink too much and, because I’m American, I’m spoiled rotten. Hmm, maybe all of those are true? Nope, not a one. But I do like to have fun.

  9. Don’t you say?
    “I haven’t seen that in donkey’s years.”; “Let’s have a chin-wag.”; “I’m chuffed to bits.”
    I am Dutch/Brazilian…so people ask me if I play football, dance well, and live on top of a tree on the Amazon forest…When they hear that I actually live in Amsterdam, they ask me if I smoke weed, drink beer, and work in the red lights business…that’s all they can think of Amsterdam.

    Just kidding…but it was fun to write.

    • Haha! I’ve visited Amsterdam (I stayed in Voorburg for a week) and it was all about the House of Bols and Anne Frank… I say all three of those sentences regularly!

  10. I’m from Pennsylvania so I get: 1) What are the Amish like? (Quiet and boring is my guess. I’ve never know one.) and 2) Do you eat Philly cheese steaks all the time? (Like you – I don’t live near the city of Philadelphia, but I have had a cheese steak. If I ate them all the time I’d have some serious health issues.) And, thanks for the red telephone box tip. If I ever go to London I think I’ll skip those… 🙂

  11. *LOL* I love this list, Suzie! Stereotypes are quite amusing, aren’t they? As a Canadian living in the United States, I get asked ALL the time if I say, “eh” after practically everything! No way, eh! I once told someone (here in Chicago) that I’m from Canada; their response? “You don’t look Canadian!” I still don’t know what that means! Hehehe Cher xo

  12. This is great Susie! I’m American but nearly all my ancestry are Brits, my grandma is British and I have extended family there, plus I lived in England as a small child (U.S. Military). So I consider myself part Brit.

    A few things:

    I actually do have a snaggle tooth that I would love to fix! How Brit of me. Lol. But, no, this is just a silly stereotype.

    I can’t believe you’ve never seen DA. It’s soooo good, but I suppose if you don’t like historical fiction it wouldn’t interest you (I’ll try not to fall off my chair or judge you).

    What is “queue” (apologize if I spelled this wrong-I can’t see how you spelled it since I’m using WordPress app on my phone)? I have absolutely no clue what you mean by that word. Like I said, I’m only partly Brit (a very small part).

  13. I’ve lived all over the U.S. And there is a wide diversity of people here. But one thing I have noticed from the international community is that Americans are sometimes perceived as narcissistic and uptight. And that might actually be true in many cases.

    • The only experience I’ve ever had with Americans over here is that they like things in a certain way, particularly when it comes to ordering food. I’ve been to New York, Philadelphia and D.C. and everyone was lovely. The only thing I found strange was that you guys didn’t seem to have shops that sold cigarettes late at night, or cigarettes were sold in waffle houses…

  14. As an American who has not travelled much, the only item on your list I’ve heard of is the one about bad food.

    British humor is one of your finest exports! You blokes are funny! I think I’ve seen every episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

    Here in the USA, “football” means something entirely different than is does not just in the UK but the whole world.

  15. What a terrific list! I’m still learning to speak British instead of American. I can say “trousers” and even manage to call someone’s sweater a “jumper” without giggling. Too much. I’m working my way up to “cheers”.

    But I have to confess…when we moved to England, we did live in a medieval castle for several years. Doesn’t everyone?

  16. I wish I could hear you talk! My grandparents are (were) from Lancashire. I was born there, but the my place of birth is no longer in Lancashire county, which I think is illegal. Or should be. I speak Yank with a few English-accented words thrown in. My students always laugh but end up copying me.

  17. as usual, a wonderful post. I love your writing! I hadn’t thought of all those stereotypes, and I enjoyed reading them all. I do watch Downton Abbey, I can’t help it! The big shock for me was tea… my mom was Irish and the cure for anything was a cup of tea… I still dole it out for any aches and pains, unless of course, I know that wine would do better. 😉 My girls spent a week in London and loved the food there. As for me, I talk like a Northerner and I live in the South here, so I am a Yankee through and through. Thanks for this delightful post, have missed reading your words, busy with the move…

  18. This is wonderful! I feel like I know you by parts. You’re very interesting, that’s for sure, and your cats love you. That’s international, so I guess you’re a woman of the world.

  19. I always get: “You don’t sound like you’re from Brooklyn” or “You’re from NY? Are you going to kill me?”. Charming stuff like that. 🙂

  20. Love it! Living in the UK for a while this made me giggle! I get asked whether I own a kangaroo. Whether I know their mate Dave in Sydney (yes, I know EVERYONE in Oz) and then tey’ll proceed to do THE worst accent a la Meryl Streep in Evil Angels. Never fails to make me giggle!

  21. According to most people I should wear Lederhosen, eat lots of sausages, have hairy armpits and a bad taste in music! The sausage part is true I guess, and I did listen to strange music in my teens but apart from that I’m so not German. I don’t have a savings account in case my washing machine breaks, I love taking risks and that includes jaywalking (sooooo frowned upon and actually illegal in Germany!). Ok, maybe one more thing still gives me away (occasionally): the infamous German stare (google it)! 😉

    • Don’t you guys live in flat pack triangular housing? And listen to heavy rock music? I spent some time in Paderborn and ended up in a metal rock club.

  22. I’m Welsh, and often get asked if I drink cider and grew up on a farm, because some people think I have a West-Country accent. I also get asked if I play rugby (No, I don’t, but I enjoy watching it for other reasons), and told that if I am Welsh then I must be able to sing (No, I’m tone deaf and believe me I’d never ever win a singing contest even if I was the only one in it).
    I’m also told that I must be able to speak Welsh and to say something Welsh, to which I reply “Cardiff”.

    • What about the sheep Hugh? Won’t somebody think of the poor sheep? 😉 My boss is Welsh and I nagged him for months to say ‘what’s occurring’ after developing an obsession with Gavin and Stacey…

      • Oh the sheep are fine, Suzie. Don’t worry because Uncle Bryn is there. And in his own words

        “Brokeback Mountain, I just cant get enough of it”

        My favourite in the series though was the next door neighbour Doris, and here’s the one I like best of all from her

        “Thing to remember is don’t go giving him nothing on the first night. Well no not nothing. A kiss, a cuddle, a cheeky finger, just don’t go selling the whole farm.”

  23. Ha ha! loved your post and by the way – I loved Downton Abbey! It was just awesome..People have lots of myths about India. Once an American asked me if we have Facebook in India and that really got me thinking – Yes, yes, yes – we are one of the largest internet consumers in the world. 😀 I have been using FB for over 8 years now..

    • Thank you! There is a huge Indian community here on the UK so we have more of an opportunity to get involved… Best wedding I’ve ever been to was an Indian Sikh wedding… So much food, and alcohol!!!

  24. I loved point 10 and I think I’m going to make the point about crumpets and yorkshire pudding a part of my screening process for new friends.
    “Does eating crumpets and/or Yorkshire puddings make you feel happy?”

  25. Being from the West Country (Bristol to be exact) I do of course, drink cider, drive a tractor and chew on straw all the time! Or possibly not. I admit I did use to drink cider, which when you move to Northampton for uni (which is North to me!) and ask for a pint of cider in a broad West Country accent you do get a few odd looks and comments. I stick to tea now and more often than not get accused of being Northern because I drink it strong with next to no milk in it!
    Fab list which definitely made me chuckle. Thanks.

  26. Well, being British too, my foreign friends all ask me, when they first arrive: “Oh, you’re English! Have you met the Queen?” (This was an American) to which I honestly replied: “Yes, I have. We had a lovely chat.” It always makes for a great conversation starter.

  27. First, I really enjoyed this – reading the word “queing” and it being a verb made me chuckle. Living in the US – “lining up” or “getting in line” is normal…”lining” would just be weird. One thing that I am ALWAYS stereotyped about is my red hair/freckles. NO – I am not Irish or Scottish. I am 100% German. It shocks people. But it comes in handy on St. Patrick’s Day – that’s the only day of the year I pretend to be Irish and can get away with it, mostly because I get free drinks:)

  28. Indian. I am a feminist and not a rapist -_-
    I have done my masters in Chemistry and have recently synthesized a material that can detect explosives very easily. I am not a snake charmer 😛

    • Ah yes, I understand… In the UK we are more knowledgable about the culture because of the enormous Indian population, although there is still the stigma that follows Indian culture in that women are considered to be second class citizens. I know that isn’t usually the case…

  29. I’m from Texas and have been asked if we use horses instead of cars. I lived in New Mexico and was asked “How does it feel living in Mexico?” I’m about a 45 minute drive away from Mexico but I’m still in the United States. I’m Mexican-American. A lot of people assume you speak Spanish if you’re Hispanic but some Hispanics don’t speak Spanish.

    • Texas = the TV programme Dallas. Cowboy hats, oil and lots of steak… I’ve always wanted to meet someone from Texas in real life! Or Mexico! I must admit, you dispelled a myth for me there – I thought all Hispanics spoke Spanish or an affiliate!

      • Ohh that’s old school (Dallas) 🙂 I know there was a new one. No not all Hispanics speak Spanish only English. Then some speak Spanglish or even Spanish slang. So you never met the Queen huh? I went to London way back in ’99 and it’s huge! We saw the outside of Buckingham Palace, went around in the underground, went to Hard Rock Cafe, checked out churches and museums and took a Hovercraft to Paris.

      • I’m sure you will 🙂 Now you can say you met a blogger from Texas who’s Mexican-American. I don’t have cowboy boots or a hat anymore though.

  30. Aww Suzie, a cup of tea is one of life’s joys – I’m inhuman until I’ve had one!
    Coming from Yorkshire, there’s a stereotype about Yorkies being tight … which is near to the truth with several people I know!

    • Really? I’d never heard that before! Granted, you might be from the wrong side of the Pennines, but Yorkshire people tell it how it is and would do anything to help anyone in need…

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