We were having dinner last week with our British neighbors and discussing the finer points of the British Monarchy, specifically Henry VIII, and I was asking our friends what they thought of him. We’d just visited the Tower of London (See my Flickr pictures here)
where Henry received bride Anne Boleyn and upon her arrival warmly greeted her by sweetly whispering, “I will love you until the day you die,” which she did, of course, just a short few years later when Henry had her head separated from her body.
Anyway, I just knew our friends would agree that Henry was the Pol Pot of the medieval world, establishing a lifelong reputation as a butcher and general despot. “We don’t think about him much really,” my friend said. “There is so much history to keep track of most of us never give him that much thought.”
His comment was so nonchalant that it struck me as humorous. He wasn’t saying it in a pompous or arrogant way, he was simply stating exactly what the visit to the Tower impressed upon me: There is nearly a 1,000 years of British history IF you begin with William the Conqueror and blow off Roman occupation years before that. I chuckled because he was so…..British in his response. I thought, “I love this place,” then began thinking of why I’ve taken to the UK like an Englishman to his English breakfast (which consists of cold pork and beans, a couple eggs, grilled mushrooms, some sausage saturated in artery clogging cholesterol and bacon, also saturated in artery clogging cholesterol). So here are some reasons why I’m quite keen (commonly used word here) toward Brits with more to come later I’m sure.
1. Brits…period. People told us before we arrived that Brits were cold and standoffish, difficult to get to know. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brits love to converse and it is most common to hear laughter within minutes.
2. British moxie. The dictionary defines moxie as vigor; verve, pep, courage, aggressiveness, nerve, skill, know-how. and lists related words as backbone, grit, gumption, guts. All these things define Brits. You don’t survive a 1,000 years of their history without a “stiff upper lip”. You certainly don’t emerge from the rubble of the Blitz during WWII without having some moxie. Brits have tons of moxie.
3.British humor. Mention this and most people’s minds quickly drift to their favorite Monty Python, Benny Hill or Mr. Bean scenes. Frankly, Americans, for the most part, don’t get the extremely quick and dry wit of Brits or their ability to poke fun at what they see as absurdities in their own culture. (Here is an example. Side splitting stuff…if you get it). I find myself at times laughing uncontrollably, especially with sitcoms like “Yes, Minister” (Google clips)..
4. British history. Seriously, think about all the Brits have done to shape the world in the past 350 years and you understand why it was once said the sun never sets on the British Empire. Of course there are some warts, but Brits have made massive (a commonly used word by Brits) contributions to exploration, science, literature, and world trade. Think of the British missiological and theological giants like Charles Spurgeon, Eric Liddell, David Livingstone, John Wycliffe, John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis to name but a few. It is unfortunate that too many of today’s “tolerant-minded” Brits seem to find all that is wrong with being British and are undermining a fantastic (another commonly used word) culture.
5. British use of language. I’ve mentioned this before so won’t belabor it but Brits really make the the English language dance. Couple the ability to do gymnastics with words with humor and you’ve got one clever Brit.
All nationalities have nuances that make them unique but it has been enjoyable so far to be introduced to those things that make Brits uniquely British.