Monday, March 31

Being English

At the end of last year I read a book that opened my eyes, made me laugh (many times) ... and made me understand a little bit more about why I think the way I do! I can't even count the number of times that I wanted to read Mark extracts from it!

Are you English? Are you English and work with people from other cultures? Do you know anyone who is English? Then I can't recommend this book enough. It was suggested to me by an American friend who is married to someone English and I even think it was something that was mentioned as helpful to look at when we were at All Nations, for those living cross-culturally.

Anyway ... it is called Watching the English, it was written by an English anthropologist, who has spent a lot of time living in different cultures throughout her life. She was able to analyse the English culture, while also having an insiders view! Hilariously insightful and sometimes painfully accurate! Making me question why on earth we do some things and giving me an understanding why other things seem 'normal' to us and downright weird to others!

From pub-culture, to queueing, to how the different classes spend their money on weddings ... and of course the magical powers of a simple cup of tea, Kate Fox analyses and sometimes uses behaviour that is counter-culture just to test peoples reactions! 

Below are just a few of the extracts that put a smile on my face ...
"My queue-jumping experiments were the most difficult and distasteful and upsetting of all the rule-breaking field-experiments I conducted during the research for this book ... just the thought of queue-jumping was so horribly embarrassing that I very nearly abandoned the whole project rather than subject myself to such an ordeal."
"... when you examine English queues under a social-science microscope, you find that each one is a little mini-drama - not just an entertaining 'comedy of manners', but a real human-interest story, full of intrigue and scheming, intense moral dilemmas, honour and altruism, shifting alliances, shame and face-saving, anger and reconciliation." 
"Tea is still believed, by English people of all classes, to have miraculous properties. A cup of tea can cure, or at least significantly alleviate, almost all minor physical ailments and indispositions, from a headache to a scraped knee. Tea is also an essential remedy for all social and psychological ills, from a bruised ego to the trauma of a divorce or bereavement. This magical drink can be used equally effectively as a sedative or stimulant, to calm and soothe or to revive and invigorate. Whatever your mental or physical state, what you need is 'a nice cup of tea'" 
This last week I've had a couple of conversations about it with some other Brit friends ... hoping it can make you smile to!

1 comment:

  1. I love this book too. It makes me laugh out loud. Needless to say, Matt's found it useful too. Brilliant!