Culture

Culture: 10 Weird Things About the British

2020-10-24

Last week, I jokingly and lovingly, wrote about 10 things Germans do/have that are just super weird to me as a Brit/Expat.

But we are not innocent! If anything we are probably the stranger nation. So this week, I present to you 10 weird things about the British.

1. 2 Taps

This had never occurred to me before my German teacher mentioned it to me. But after she did, I started noticing more and more people commenting on how weird it is.

It’s pretty normal in Britain to have two separate taps attached to your sink/bathtub. The result is that you either end up with arctic temperature cold water or hot water that could cause third-degree burns. There’s not really an in-between.

Most new and refurbished buildings have now opted for the combined taps, but there’s still a lot of homes that have single taps installed.

2. Apologising for EVERYTHING

“Sorry” is actually the first word we all collectively learn as Brits. There’s a compulsory postnatal class in getting your child to apologise.

While that is obviously a joke, it is definitely part of British culture and something that is ingrained into us at a pretty young age. I’ve been in Germany for over a year and I still can’t stop apologising for everything. I’ve probably used the words “Entschuldigung” and “Es tut mir leid” more in a 13 months period than any German has in their lifetime.

3. Tea fixes anything.

Stubbed your toe? Tea. Didn’t get that job? Tea. Your husband cheated on you? Tea. Crashed your car and broke your leg in 3 places? Tea. In the darkest depths of depression? Tea.

Specifically Yorkshire Tea, I might add. Don’t argue with me on this. It’s the best one. There are no other options as far as I’m concerned.

4. Size : Accents Ratio

For such a small group of countries and islands, we have far too many accents!

Below is a super simple map of accent varieties I found on Pinterest:

This contains 43 broad accents, but I know for a fact there are hugely different accents and dialects under the banners of West Country, West Midlands, Brummie, East Midlands, South East, London and the Scottish and Welsh accents. Probably more.

5. Washing Machines

Again, this is something I did not think about until we moved to Germany and the taps for our washing machine connection were in the bathroom. THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. Why have we spent our whole lives with washing machines in the kitchens?!

Most apartments here have a washing room in the basement as well, so you can put your washing machine down there if your bathroom isn’t big enough. Ours even has a communal tumble dryer that you can use for 1€. Then if you’re really posh and fancy, you probably have your own laundry room.

I think it all comes down to the design and construction of houses/flats. Germans seem to make much better use of their spaces in buildings. Sort it out Britain.

6. Greetings

There’s just too many. Here’s some pretty common greetings that I’ve used and heard in Britain.

  • Hey, hey man, hey gurrrl, hi, hiya
  • How are you doing? / How’s it going? / How goes it?
  • What’s up? / What’s new? / What’s going on? / What do you know?
  • How are things? / How’s life?
  • How’s your day?
  • Good to see you / Nice to see you
  • It’s been a while / Long time no see
  • Alright? / Alright mate? / Are you OK?
  • Alright butt?

That last one is definitely a Welsh saying, but the town I come from sits almost literally on the border of Wales, so we have adopted a lot of Welsh slang terms.

Either way, even in the workplace, it’s unlikely you’ll hear the “proper” greetings of “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening, how are you?” – we have a pretty informal language.

7. Henry the Hoover

A British household and workplace staple, Henry and his pals (there’s about 12 of them now) are a bunch of vacuum cleaners with human-like faces on. Because why not? They are the best vacuum cleaners in the world, despite being a little tricky to manoeuvre.

Let’s be honest. Nobody enjoys doing housework. But if you can do it with a smiling friend, then it makes it 10x better! If you’re British and you own a Henry (or one of his mates), don’t try and tell me you’ve never had a conversation with it.

We had a little Hetty (the pink version) when we lived in England, and she was the cutest little vacuum cleaner ever. I miss her, even to this day.

8. Chip Butty / Crisp Sandwich

For those of you that don’t know: a chip butty is 2 thick slices of white bread (don’t go bringing your healthy wholemeal bread to this party) with a slab of butter and filled with as many chip shop chips as physically possible. Not fries, not steak chips, not potato wedges. Chip. Shop. Chips. It’s a British delicacy.

Tomato Ketchup is optional

The crisp sandwich is also a beautiful British dish. I currently have a huge craving for one, ever since one of my favourite chefs, Jack Monroe, posted this beauty on her Instagram:

Crisp variation/flavour up to the sandwich maker

9. Crisp Flavours

While we’re on the subject of crisps, let’s have a chat about this one. I think it can be universally agreed that the British took it way too far with their crisp flavours.

Sure, in the USA you can get pizza flavoured pringles, pulled pork and dill pickle flavoured crisps. But here in England, we truly believe you can put anything into crisp form. Potatoes are life.

Here are the weirdest flavours I’ve ever come across:

  • Tomato Ketchup
  • Marmite
  • Worcestershire Sauce (see also: Worcestershire Sauce & Sundried Tomatoes)
  • Roast Lamb & Mint
  • Prawn Cocktail
  • Oyster and Vinegar
  • Onion Bhaji
  • Brussell Sprouts
  • Pigs in Blankets

The list is endless.

10. What measuring system do we use?!

This is an issue that my boyfriend gets asked about all the time by his German colleagues (his job requires a lot of measuring things). They appear to be very confused by our measuring system. Until my boyfriend was asked about it, I can’t say I’ve ever given it any thought, but now it’s been discussed at length and even I have questions.

Technically, Great Britain uses the Imperial Measuring system adopted (I say adopted instead of invented because lets be honest, it was probably stolen) by the British Empire in 1826. This is already pretty confusing, considering the rest of Europe and many previous Empire countries have now converted to metric. But what makes it more confusing is that actually, sometimes, we also use the metric system.

We buy milk in pints, petrol in litres, food in grams/kilograms. When cooking, we measure in a variety of grams, fluent ounces and millilitres. We weigh people in stones and pounds, but animals in kilograms. We measure distances in centimetres/meters (metric), or yards and miles (imperial). We run a 5k or 10k, but a Half Marathon and Marathon are most commonly spoken about as being 13.1 and 26.2 miles. Beer is the only alcohol we measure in imperial measurements. Wine and spirits use metric.

It’s all totally confusing!!


I hope you’ve enjoyed these fun posts. I’ve definitely enjoyed writing them!

bis zum nächsten Mal / unti next time,

Steffi x

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