Reasons why I’m quite keen towards Brits (part 1)

posted in: Flickr, Life in UK | 7

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)

The Tower of London, also known as The White Tower, was built by William the Conqueror nearly 1,000 years ago.

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.”

Trajan, ruler of Rome during the Roman occupation of modern day London. The statue stands adjacent to the Tower of London and the Roman wall behind Trajan was once part of the Tower\’s defenses.

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.

7 Responses

  1. Brooklyn

    Bunyan? I have to tell you, I have yet to progress all the way to the end with the Pilgrim … I’ve tried, but failed. Not even the pictures will get me through.

    Still, fun post. And I won’t begrudge you the other giants mentioned.

  2. Chris

    I confess to having done better with Pilgrim after having read several other modern perspectives of what the heck it means. Same with Canterbury Tales, which I am thinking about reading while hiking to Canterbury later this year (however the hike is only 100 miles and I may either need more miles to get through it or will possibly toss it in the rubbish bin after mile 2 – respectfully of course!).

  3. ShawnMarie Frazier

    Love the post, Chris! Love the Brits but I’m probably more low brow than you in my attraction to Brittish cultural works. I.e. I’m in love with shows like “Doctor Who,” “Keeping Up Appearances,” and, of course, Hugh Laurie in “Jeeves and Wooster.” Oh and all those lovely books by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey. (Though I do love C.S. Lewis and Shakespeare of course!) Thanks for keeping us all updated on your adventures. 😀

  4. Chris

    Thanks Shawn Marie. Nothing low brow about the authors you mention. Heck, if I criticized your choice of writer then I could possibly open myself to criticism of my music choices I posted at the beginning of the year! Even by the Kinks admission they are on a low budget.

  5. Kami

    What a swell, smart post, Chris! I completely agree with everything you said, but especially #1. I found Brits to be some of the easiest people in the world (literally) to get to know, honest and warm and straightforward and all around delightful. And this held as true with strangers on the street or train as with friends of friends I met at church. I really don’t understand where that cold and standoffish stereotype came from. You’ve just made me incredibly homesick for England tonight. 🙂

  6. Chris

    Thanks Kami. I knew I’d get an amen out there from folks with British experience. I especially appreciate the conversation with my neighbor yesterday who clued me in to the English quote about teaching kids to work: “What’s the point in having a dog if you’re the one who’s going to bark.” Nice.

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