It is an interesting question…what are the things the English absolutely love?
Perhaps an easier way for me to answer this is by looking at what I missed the most while I was living and working and travelling for 6 years from 1996 to 2002.
I did not experience an English winter for 6 years. Every winter I was sat sweating and hot, being buzzed by flies, bitten by mosquitoes and burnt by the tropical sun. Christmas on the beach in Sri Lanka or a remote island in the Maluku Islands in Indonesia is fantastic. But there were times when I just wanted to wake up to a frosty morning, hear the hammering of the rain on the windows and the howling of the wind. To leave for work in the dark and to come home in the dark. Did I miss the winter? Yes, sometimes. But it was more the thought of family and feeling cosy wrapped up in a big coat and hat on a long walk on a clear but chilly day I missed. Your breath in clouds as you puffed up a hill.
So what did I miss…and what do the English (and most British people) love?
Tea is part of the British way of life. We love tea. With milk (of course). And biscuits to dunk in the tea (Dunk – a great word…to ‘dip or place’ a biscuit (or doughnut / donut) into a (usually hot) drink. Dunkin’ Donuts?? Yes, the same idea).
The English / British always complain that whenever they travel, ‘the tea is never as good as back home’. I missed a really good cup of tea.
OK, ‘Fries’ to many people. But while made from potato, fries and chips are essentially different things. Like two different breeds of dog. French Fries – skinny, crispy. The whippet of the potato chip family. Chips – big, fat, chunky, hot, delicious covered in salt and vinegar. The British Bulldog of the potato chip family. Plenty of bite and it makes you salivate just thinking about them or smelling them.
Proper chips. Nothing less will do. Sorry McDonalds.
The humble queue. A line of people. Or in the case of the Brits even a line of one person. To queue is to show politeness, courtesy, respect for others, patience, restraint, tolerance, acceptance. Etc etc. Want to upset the English. Just push in front of a queue. Queue jumping is a crime. Well, to us it should be. So having experienced the world and its lack of queuing, it is always wonderful to return home to the land of queues.
Football & Cricket
Football. The nation’s game, the beautiful game, a game of two halves….There is something about the sight of 11 players on two sides, 22 people in total chasing a ball and trying to kick it in the back of a net that causes love, anger, devotion and passion like no other in the English. In Wales they love rugby, the Irish have hurling, the Scottish curling – yes Wales, Ireland and Scotland love their football too. But to an Englishman, football is by far their pride and passion. When your local team does well, you can feel a sense of happiness and optimism in the town or city. When your team is losing, the sense of sadness and despair in a town is very obvious. You can feel it, you can smell it in the air.
I used to sit and watch the English Premier League on a Saturday evening (Indonesian time)…I would sit sweating and being bitten by the mosquitoes (again) watching my team Newcastle United play Manchester United in the snow of a cold January day and wish I was back home.
As for cricket…I love cricket. I won’t try to explain it here. It would take a year. But to a cricket mad Englishman, 6 years of not watching any cricket was terrible. Whisper it, but that is why I really wanted to come home…not for work or anything important. I missed the cricket.
What else are we obsessed with?
In no particular order ….
- the weather – it’s too hot, too cold, too sunny, too rainy, too windy, too cloudy
- the television – when a programme grips a nation, everyone talks about it…from X Factor to the Great British Bake Off to Strictly Come Dancing (yes it is true, we are obsessed with a programme about a cake baking competition and a dancing competition with celebrities and professional dance partners)
- music – we love music, going to gigs, concerts and festivals to watch it being played live, on the radio, in the car, music competitions (X Factor etc)
- complaining about traffic jams, late trains, cancelled planes etc Start every conversation when you meet someone with ‘How was your journey?’ and you’ll probably hear about ‘The 10:30 train to Leeds was delayed an hour, the M25 had a huge traffic jam, the 08:15 flight to Bristol was cancelled at the last moment’ …awful
- celebrities – they are everywhere. Famous and not so famous people. A list to Z list. And what do we do? Gossip…magazines, tv programmes, in the office, out with friends. Celebrities. We love them (but not me).
- the pub – although many pubs have closed down due to the economic problems of the last 10 years, pubs are still an important part of town and cities throughout the UK. A meeting place, a place to eat, a place to socialise and to de-stress. For many villages, the pub is the heartbeat of the place. The central and focal point of village life.
There are so many other things we love and I hope one day you will be able to come and enjoy them yourself.
But join the queue first please.