I think my ardent Anglophilia was fostered at a fairly young age. A youth spent immersed in British literature, music and a steady diet of British telly inspired a deep fascination with the history and culture of the UK.
There’s something about the (admittedly stereotypical) traits of Britishness that always intrigued and delighted me: that curious mix of politeness, emotional reserve, irreverence, wit and an enviable facility for imaginatively scathing insults.
There’s plenty I still find bewildering about British society: the unsettling obsession with class, the Monarchy, peerages, tabloid journalism, the popularity of UKIP (shudder).
Overall, though, I love it for all its quirks and imperfections.
Here are some of the things I love (and miss) about all things British:
- The accents. So, so many glorious accents. I’m a sucker for a good accent.
- Tea. I love the reverence for a good brew and the notion that’s there’s nowt that can’t be solved with a nice cuppa.
- The humour. I owe my self-deprecation, sarcasm, and love of the absurd to British comedy, and highly approve of the delight many Brits take in ruthlessly taking the piss out of anyone who’s being a bit of a knob.
- Slang and swearing. Nobody swears with quite as much creative zest as the Brits, as pretty much any Malcolm Tucker scene from The Thick of It demonstrates:
- Oop North: amiable and exceedingly friendly people, great accents, beautiful towns (looking at you, York), glorious countryside. What’s not to love?
- The Great British Bake Off – it is so heartening to see how a gentle show about baking in which all the contestants are extremely talented and unfailingly kind to one another has become a national obsession. This year’s final made me weep with joy. It is the ultimate in feel-good telly.
- CAKE. Lemon drizzle, Victoria sponge, carrot cake… it’s all very, very good.
- Gentlemen. There are lovely gentlemen everywhere in the world, but there’s nothing quite so charming as a British gentleman.
- The NHS
- The BBC
- The art of queuing
- The cultural heritage. Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, The Beatles, David Bowie, Pulp, Kate Bush, Turner, David Hockney, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Black Books, Peep Show, Alfred Hitchcock, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach….. the list goes on and on.
- Politeness, and the social awkwardness that often accompanies it.
- The weather. I’m only half joking.