Whether you’re born and bred in England; planning to attend a university in London or coming to study from overseas, here are ten typical English things to do while you’re here:
APOLOGISE WHEN SOMEONE ELSE HAS ALMOST BUMPED INTO YOU, AS IF IT WERE YOUR FAULT
The English are very wary of physical contact. If it looks even remotely possible that we might bump into one another, we will react in a somewhat awkward manner, apologising before it has even happened.
FORM A QUEUE
The English love to form a queue, it represents fairness, patience, self-restraint and politeness. No queue jumping will take place, and if you attempt to jump a queue be prepared to receive the full force of disapproving looks. If we see a queue even in the vague vicinity of the area that we wish to go, we will often join it, assuming that it is for us; even if that means finding 20 minutes later that the queue is actually for something completely different and that we could simply have walked through to get to our desired destination.
CLUTCH A HOT DRINK ON A DECKCHAIR ON THE BEACH WEARING LOTS OF CLOTHES BECAUSE OF THE COLD
After what is usually a very long, dark, cold winter, that first glimmer of sunshine is a hotly anticipated event and one which usually gets the brits out and about in full force. You’ll find us out in shorts and t-shirt as soon as the sun breaks through the clouds, even if it is actually still only April and with a freezing cold wind. At the first sign of sun, the typical English person will most likely pull the summer clothes on, pack a blanket, scarf and several jumpers and end up huddled on a deckchair on a beach within a 50-mile radius of home; wearing all of the packed items and clutching a hot cup of tea.
Eastenders is a long-running British soap opera which has been broadcast on BBC One since 1985. Set in the East End of London in the fictional borough of Watford; the programme follows the stories of local residents and their families as they go about their daily lives in Albert Square. It is aired four nights a week and is a prime time favourite for most English families.
SEE A PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW
Punch and Judy puppet shows were introduced into England from Italy at some point in the 16th century. The stock characters are Mr Punch, his long suffering wife Judy, their baby, a policeman and a crocodile (plus a few more). Performances are carried out on a raised box usually at the seaside and a long string of sausages inevitably make an appearance.
GO TO THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
London’s Notting Hill Carnival was founded in 1966 and is held every year over the August bank holiday. It’s led by members of the British West Indian community and attracts around one million people annually; making it the second-largest carnival in the world after Rio Carnival. Chapter Portobello is located right on the carnival route so members can enjoy the party with their friends and refreshments from the comfort of their own home.
SPEAK IN COCKNEY RHYMING SLANG
Cockney rhyming slang originated in London’s East End in the mid-nineteenth century. It is formed by replacing a word with a rhyming phrase, and then (usually) taking the first word of the new phrase to stand in for the original word. An example would be ‘apple and pears’ meaning ‘stairs’; ‘stairs’ rhymes with ‘apple and pears’ so in cockney rhyming slang, ‘I’m going up the stairs’ would become ‘I’m going up the apple and pears’.
GO PUNTING AT OXFORD OR CAMBRIDGE
Both university towns Oxford and Cambridge are well known for their outdoor activity; punting on the river. Punts are propelled from the rear of a flat bottomed boat with a pole which the punter pushes against the river bottom in order to move forward (think Gondolas in Venice, but a DIY version in English weather).
HAVE A NICE CUP OF TEA
England is a nation of dedicated tea drinkers, getting through 125,000 tonnes of black tea per year. The English often have a cup of tea first thing in the morning, and then several times throughout the day. Some work establishments even have a dedicated break called a ‘tea break’. English people think a cup of tea is the answer to most things; first thing in the morning – have a cup of tea, meeting up with friends – have a cup tea, had a shock of some kind – have a sweet cup of tea.
EAT FISH AND CHIPS
Overseas visitors that wish to try English food are often pointed towards the fish and chip shop. The fish is usually a piece of cod fried in batter and chips are fried potatoes. Despite being a basic meal with a high calorific content, it’s a staple meal for the English and one that is normally accompanied by mushy peas and smothered in salt and vinegar.