I don’t know if you’ve seen the list of “42 cultural quirks of Brits that Americans need to know before visiting London” that Hayley Bloomingdale wrote for Vogue. She claims to have gleaned this insight from living in London for ten months, and apparently it applies to the whole of Britain. Quote: In my short time here I have made the following observations and I can conclude that London is not Manhattan. In reading this one article, I have determined that Ms Bloomingdale is certifiable.
- British people do not use umbrellas, even though it rains every day.
British people use umbrellas when they feel the need. You don’t need an umbrella for a light drizzle. Also, it doesn’t rain every day. It may be raining somewhere in the UK every day, but it does not rain everywhere in the UK every day. Americans need to give up this stupid lie.
- Everyone says sorry for everything; it’s often best to start any request or inquiry with “sorry…”
Sorry if it offends Americans, but it’s better to apologise than not. Is it any wonder a lot of people find Americans rude when they don’t apologise for anything? Yeah, stereotyping isn’t fun, is it?
- If you’re walking and you have something you maybe want to throw away at any point in the near future (coffee cup, tissue), you should toss it the second you see a bin (garbage can) because there won’t be another one, ever.
Not true. There are bins where they are needed.
- Crossing the street is often very scary (even some British people are confused when to cross). The only safe place is the “zebra.”
You cross the street where and when it’s safe to do so. You do NOT have to wait for a “zebra” – if you did, you’d never cross a road. Ever.
- If you look confused and/or scared when crossing the street, drivers will often speed up instead of the opposite.
This is true. But it’s only because drivers don’t like to be kept waiting by people who can’t decide whether to cross the road. I’m not speaking from the point of a driver either, as I can’t drive. I do have years of experience in crossing roads, however.
- English people wear winter coats starting on October 1…
Christmas also starts on October 1…
Also, they wouldn’t say October 1; they’d say, 1 October.
No they don’t. They start wearing winter coats when it’s cold enough to do so. Or just wear a coat in winter, since it’s usually warm enough in summer not to use one.
No it doesn’t. Supermarkets are already selling Christmas crap (it’s September 17th today). Also, Christmas starts on December 24th. The clue is that Christmas Eve has the word Christmas in it.
No they don’t. See how I wrote December 24th?
- There are no plugs in the bathrooms—unclear how British women blow-dry their hair (this is a possible explanation for why some have bad hair).
Of course there are no plugs in bathrooms. It has been scientifically proven that having open electrical circuits near water is a very dangerous thing to do. Also, blow-drying every day risks seriously damaging your hair. I don’t use conditioner or blow-dry my hair (Shock! Horror! WTF?!) and haven’t had split ends since high school. Finally, there is no such thing as bad hair, only a distorted perception of what is acceptable because of magazines like Vogue. If it’s clean and brushed, it’s not bad hair.
- Dryers somehow exist inside washing machines.
Not uniquely British. Not every country has as much space in their houses as Americans, so washer-driers exist to best utilise the space available.
- Crisps means potato chips and they have bizarre flavors like Bolognese and roast chicken (yes, roast chicken is an actual potato chip flavor here).
Yes, roast chicken is a common flavour, but Bolognese is not. And crisps are crisps because they are thin and, well, crisp. A chip of something is not usually thin and crispy. Why Americans insist on having nonsensical names for potato products is beyond me.
- Military time is very popular. If someone says to meet at 18:30, you will have to get out your calculator to deduce that they’d like to meet at 6:30 p.m.
No, it isn’t. Just… no! If someone wants to meet you at 6:30 pm, they’ll say to meet at “half [past] six”.
- GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, but nobody knows what that means.
Yes we do; it means the half of the year that’s not BST (British Summer Time)…
OK, so its name comes from time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. GMT was proposed as a central time that could be used to track what time it was in other places around the world. Thus, New York would be GMT-5. Nowadays, UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) is used instead of GMT, because the British Empire is no longer a thing, but also because most countries observe Daylight Saving, including the UK. The problem is that Daylight Saving starts and ends on different dates in different countries, so it’s easier to work out time differences based on a universal standard rather than what time it is in Greenwich. BST applies even if you’re in Greenwich, and is GMT+1 and therefore UTC+1, so you can see why they changed it.
I didn’t Google that either, I just know it.
- British people do not say “cheers” and tap glasses when drinking with friends. It’s apparently embarrassing and “American” to do so. They do, however, say “cheers” many times a day, but it means “thank you and goodbye.”
Saying cheers once is acceptable, but not clinking your glasses. Unless you’re at a “do” (e.g. a wedding), in which case it’s fine.
- If you have a “cider black” (aka a snakebite) at a pub you might think you got roofied, but you didn’t.
This just proves that Americans drink watered-down alcohol. Or that Ms Bloomingdale is a lightweight. This one may stem from the fact that what Americans call cider is apple juice and doesn’t contain alcohol.
And Cider Black and Snakebite are not the same drink. Snakebite is cider and lager. Cider Black is cider and blackcurrant.
- Don’t try to order any fancy drinks at a pub, just play it cool, order “a pint” and drink whatever is in there.
The bar person needs to know what you want a pint of. If you just say “a pint”, he or she will likely ignore you and serve someone else.
- Hugh Grant is old because Notting Hill came out, like, 134 years ago.
Hugh Grant is not old, he’s 56. Notting Hill came out 17 years ago. Ms Bloomingdale can’t count.
- If Hugh Grant hits on you at a party you should find another boy to talk to because he has four children and also see above.
How old is Hayley Bloomingdale? Another boy to talk to? Why would there be children at this party and why would she be talking to them? Adults are not referred to as boys and girls.
- Eggs are inexplicably not refrigerated and are often hidden in a regular food aisle.
They aren’t hidden, they’re in the baking section – right where you’d expect them to be. The official reason is that supermarkets have air conditioning and the ambient temperature is lower than in your house. Anyone who has been in a British supermarket in summer knows that this is bunkum. And eggs don’t need to be refrigerated.
- Do not speak ill of the tube system. The British people love their public transportation—“transport,” if you will—even those who don’t actually use it.
No, we don’t. We probably have the least reliable mass transit system in the world. Buses and trains are always late, and frequently cancelled for no logical reason. Is that something to love? We love the concept of it, just not the thing itself.
- British people love talking about the weather. This is not a stereotype; it’s a fact.
Not a fact. Definitely a stereotype.
- British people do not, however, want to talk about Hogwarts as much as I do.
This one depends on the person and the conversation. If the conversation is about Harry Potter, then it’s fine to talk about Hogwarts.
- One is the maximum amount of times it’s acceptable to reference Harry Potter in a conversation. (I’m aware that makes two times already for this list, sorry.)
Again, this depends on the conversation.
- If on a date, it’s best not to reference Harry Potter at all. (Three.)
If you’re a Harry Potter fan I believe it’s acceptable, if not compulsory, to establish whether your date is also a fan. How else would you know?
- A shopping bag is not automatically included in your purchase at a store; if you miss the question “would you like a bag?” you will have to awkwardly carry your items out in your hands and act like you planned that.
You are allowed to ask for a bag, but you’ll be charged for it. You’ll be charged for it if they ask if you want one, too. Or you can just take your own bag. Don’t fashion types like Ms Bloomingdale insist on carrying oversized handbags everywhere anyway?
- Robbie Williams is very famous here. Just act impressed whenever his name comes up and do not say, “what song does he sing again?” (It’s basically the Queen, David Beckham, Robbie Williams, in terms of famousness.)
Yes, he’s famous, but he stopped being culturally relevant years ago. Very few people would be likely to mention him.
- Everyone watches The X-Factor and something called Cheryl Cole is very famous and important. (Do not confuse her with Sheryl Crow; they are different people.) Also The Great British Bake Off is a “must-see” and it’s a show about cakes.
Not everyone watches The X-Factor and Cheryl Tweedy-Cole-Fernadez-Versini-Whatever-Her-Name-Is-This-Week is not important. She’s a vapid narcissist who seems to think everybody likes her and cares what she thinks. And she seems to change her surname as often as her hairstyle.
Bake Off has been a “must-see” until it transpired that the company who make it are more interested in making money than they are about making quality programming.
- Gogglebox is another very popular TV show where you watch people watching TV.
Or you can not watch it, because it’s boring and pointless.
- James Corden and Jeremy Corbyn are two different people.
Well, duh! The different names should be a giveaway.
- If you are meeting someone on the “first floor,” you will need to go up a level because first floor means second floor in this country.
This is because the ground floor is at ground level. You don’t have to be a genius to work that out.
- If a bicyclist puts out their hand, they are indicating which way they’d like to turn; they do not want a high five. (My bad. This is probably true in America, too.)
- Do not get on the bus without your Oyster card. There is no backup option. The only backup option is: Get off ASAP. (Note: Bus drivers are not as nice as cabbies.)
Oyster cards are only applicable to London. And in any case, you can also use Apple Pay, Android Pay, a travel card, or any other contactless payment card on TfL transport.
- Once you swipe your tube (subway) card, do not put it away because you also need it to exit the tube and if you lose it you have to live down there.
You do not have to live in the London Underground. They’ll let you out if you explain what happened.
- The coins are not sized by worth; the twopence is inexplicably huge while 20 pence is very small. Best to hold out your change in your hand when paying and pretend you don’t speak English.
The 5p is the tiny coin, not the 20p. The 2p is “huge” because it is worth more than the 1p. Now coins have been introduced over time, and some have been changed.
DO NOT hold out the change in your hand, it’s rude and annoying to shop staff. Learn which coin is which like everybody else.
- A 2-pound coin is not as rare as the $2 bill (no need to hang on to those like Charlie’s Golden Ticket).
Yes, the $2 bill is actually a thing. It’s so rare that some Americans don’t even believe it exists.
- If you live near Fulham Road it does not necessarily mean you live near Fulham.
Yeah, this one is fair enough.
- If you order a “lemonade,” you’ll get a Sprite and there’s literally nothing you can do about it. I still don’t know how to get an actual “lemonade” in this country.
If you order lemonade, you’ll get lemonade. Sprite has lime in it, and is a different drink. If you want American “lemonade”, ask for lemon juice.
- Don’t even bother talking about herbs with anyone because every single one is pronounced differently. Basil is one thing, but wait until you hear a Brit pronounce oregano.
I could say that the Americans are pronouncing these wrong, but it’s just one of those things. The American pronunciations often make more sense. Also, the word “herb” starts with an “h”, so pronounce it. It is not “an erb”.
- The Queen’s birthday is celebrated several times a year and there is very bad traffic and lots of drinking.
The Queen’s birthday is celebrated by the Queen and her family, and almost nobody else in Britain gives a crap. Ms Bloomingdale has apparently lived here during the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration, and this is not indicative of every birthday the Queen has.
- If it’s bad weather on her birthday, the Queen gets to have a do-over birthday, which is 100 percent the best use of that crown.
No. I don’t even know where this idea would come from.
- Bank Holidays happen several times a year, but no one actually knows what the holiday is in celebration of. Incidentally, if you say “Happy Bank Holiday” to an English person, they will not know how to respond; it is not the equivalent of “Happy Fourth of July!”
Bank holidays are not a celebration of anything, except for the ones that fall on religious holidays. We aren’t as obsessed with commemorating everything in our history as other countries. If we had days off for every historical commemoration, it’d be a Bank Holiday every day.
- If it’s sunny in London and someone is visiting from literally anywhere else, it’s actually illegal if you don’t say, “Thanks for bringing us the sunshine!”
This is not true. You’d probably be arrested for a hate crime for singling out a foreigner. Political correctness and all that.
Hayley Bloomingdale can’t count