Monday, 16 February 2015

9 Weird British Things

I recently shared a picture on my Facebook page of a Pizza Hut pizza with a Cadbury's Creme Egg crust. Seriously, I couldn't make this up. The response was mixed - some thought it was a culinary adventure that needed to be embarked upon (including my eldest son whose eyes lit up at the thought of a pizza and chocolate combination) and others, the majority, turned their noses up. It got me thinking about other weird British things.......

1. Weird British Food

The British are not automatically associated with haute cuisine....
The British are not really known for their haute cuisine, but that is not to say there is some damn good nosh coming out of the British Isles. However, I will be the first to admit there is also some weird food stuff going on.

Where shall I start? How about with a deep fried Mars Bar? This originated in Scotland when some bright spark thought they would cover a Mars Bar in the batter that is usually reserved for fish and sausages and then deep fry it.

According to Wikipedia:

"The product has not received support from Mars, Inc who said "deep-frying one of our products would go against our commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles."
Not sure what is funnier - the reaction from Mars, Inc or deep frying a Mars Bar in the first place.

Then there are many cases where the food itself may not be off the wall but the names certainly are. Here are a few examples: toad in the hole, spotted dick, Welsh rarebit (or rabbit), stargazey pie (which looks weird too).

I rest my case.

2. Weird British Words

Then we have weird British words and there are so many I couldn't possible cover them all here. But two that spring to mind are arse and buggar (or bugger).

You won't hear the word arse used in US (unless my brother has managed to convert his wife) but it means pretty much the same as ass, though maybe just a tad ruder. If you hear a Brit say, "I can't be arsed" it means they cannot be bothered, they do not have the required enthusiasm to complete a task. If you are called an arsehole it means that someone probably doesn't like you very much. If a Brit mutters the word ass he is likely referring to a donkey.

Buggar (bugger) is also worth noting - it's a word my husband fell in love with not long after we met. The actual meaning of buggar is often not known by the younger generation (origins in someone engaging in sodomy) and using it around the older generation may not go down too well.

It is a word used as an exclamation of surprise (as in 'oh bugger me!'), anger, frustration or to dismiss someone in a way that is slightly less mild than piss off. You may hear "he's a lucky bugger" or "he's a little bugger" meaning he has got off lightly with something and he's a little mischievous respectively. Either way, great but weird British word.

3. Weird British Sayings

Similarly the British have some great sayings that mystify the rest of the world. Take the English saying 'Bob's your uncle' as an example. Someone asks for directions so you say, "Go left, then right, around the roundabout, then right and Bob's your uncle!" It means 'there you go', or 'everything will be sorted'.

If someone tells you to 'get stuffed', they are asking you to go away, get lost or shove it somewhere the sun doesn't shine (which is another classic saying).

Lastly I want to share "it's the dog's bollocks" because quite frankly how could I not? If something is the dog's bollocks it means it is really, really good. But don't use this phrase if your mother-in-law cooks you a good meal for example - you'll make her eyes pop out or the vein on her forehead throb.

4. A Weird British Habit

One weird British habit (and I fear this may be more of an English thing than a rest of Britain thing) is not saying what we mean. You hear, "Okay, I will give it my utmost consideration" and think, "Ah good, he's going to think about it" but what he actually means is, "What a waste of bloody space and I have no intention of giving it another thought."

Here's another example from the brilliant Very British Problems twitter account (and there is also a wonderfully amusing book Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time):

It's because we are so polite and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or cause conflict.
So what is said is probably not what is meant. But don't let that put you off talking to the English!

5. Weird British Place names
There are so many there could be a book written about silly British place names but here are a few:

Shepherd's Bottom
Happy Bottom
Whipper Slack
Cock Alley

6. Weird British Customs

Charming, quaint, insane - all words that could describe those weird British customs that you just won't see elsewhere. Like morris dancing, cheese rolling, welly throwing, maypole dancing, wife carrying, burning barrels and straw bears.

7. Weird British Laws

There are also many weird British laws that are still in existence today. For example, it is actually illegal to die in the House of Lords (the second chamber of the UK Parliament) and in case you are wondering you can't wear metal armour there either.

You may not herd cows along public roads between 7pm & 10am (without permission from the police commissioner) and it is illegal to be drunk in charge of cows, horses, steam engines and carriages.

And lastly, if you stick your stamp upside down you are committing treason. However, I can testify that should you accidentally on purpose stick a stamp on an envelope upside down nothing happens. You are not arrested in a police dawn raid and put in the Tower of London. Or maybe I am just an incredibly lucky buggar.

8. A Significant But Weird British Day

There is one particular weird day celebrated in England that is worth mentioning and that is the 5th of November - Guy Fawkes or 'Bonfire night' as we lovingly call it. It wasn't until I started explaining to my children the background to this very English celebration that I realised just how weird it is. We burn an effigy of a man whose plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament was foiled, set off lots of fireworks and eat sausages and burgers.

9. Other Weird British Stuff 

And one last weird thing that baffles even me. A public school in Britain is actually not public at all, it's private.


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  2. Very Interesting! My parents are British but I was born and raised in the States. I've found there's a tendency (at least in the area I'm from) to use British swear words to soften the American version, so arse isn't as bad as ass - and bugger is considered by a lot of people to be a 'cutesy' expression - most don't know what it actually means.

    American's (at least the ones my age) also tend to think Guy Fawkes Night was invented by the V for Vendetta comic book/movie, which frustrates me quite a bit, even though I've never actually celebrated Bonfire night!

  3. Oh I love the idea that saying bugger is seen as cutesy!! That's not really a description I would usually associate with that word. Funny how things get lost in translation :-)

    As for Guy Fawkes Night.... *shakes head and stomps a bit*. lol

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share!

  4. im British and i haven't heard of a lot of these things >:-/ AND WE ARE NOT ALL POLITE !!!!! oh and lastly for my little rant WE DO NOT DRINK TEA ALL THE TIME!!!!!