What is the UK really like? April 4, 2009 cliffski After reading a lot of American commentary on the story where UK villagers attacked a google streetview car, especially their assumption that we meek brits live in a CCTV-controlled imperialist state, I feel it might be helpful to do a quick summary of the UK for any US readers who have not been here. (Disclaimer: I’ve been to the US only once, years ago, so I’m no great travel expert). People in the UK do not generally consider themselves ‘subjects’ of the ‘monarch’. Frankly, the Queen is just one of those anachronisms like teaching latin in schools or the boy scouts. Gordon Brown is the person we blame for running our country. The Queen is someone who wears a crown once a year and reads a speech GB writes for her. Most people aren’t too annoyed about CCTV cameras (except speed cameras). A lot of high profile criminals have been caught by them, and even the police get caught on them sometimes (menezez trial). It doesn’t rain here as much as people from the US assume it does. We take football (soccer to people from the US) VERY seriously. I don’t follow it, but a lot of people do. It’s like a religion. We actually quite like the BBC. It has it’s faults, but it’s worth it. Yes, we really have to buy a ‘TV license’ here in the UK. generally it’s not a big deal. We like TV with no adverts. We really do not have many guns here. I’m 39 and have only seen guns in the UK twice. Once was a policeman at the airport post 9-11. The other time I went clay pigeon shooting. Our crime of choice is knife crime, sadly. There is no urge for people to have guns here. We are generally very happy that gun ownership is very low. We have a lot of very different, very strong accents. Watching the Queen speak does not prepare you for a Glasgow or Welsh accent. I’m not sure what would. My accent is closest to cockney than anything, but it’s not strong Dick Van Dykes cockney accent is not real. My grandfather was a cockney, I know. If you want to hear a proper London (not cockney as such) accent, watch ‘Minder‘. Cockneys never say ‘dog and bone’. We say ‘dog’. Only tourists say ‘dog and bone’. London is BIG. Some foreigners call it ‘London Town’. Towns are quaint, London is not. It’s flipping huge. There is a difference between being Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh. People get very annoyed if you confuse them. There is history involved. You don’t confuse Palestine and Israel, so never confuse Ireland with England. People get very annoyed. We don’t get the whole ‘teeth’ thing. people in the US think brits have horrible teeth. In fact, we think we have normal teeth. Tom cruise does not have normal teeth. Only teams of expensive dentists consider that normal. We have a state-owned health service that means most health care is free to everyone. We love this. It’s actually a factor that prevents many people emigrating. We don’t understand how western nations cope without one. It’s the one political issue that every party is very wary of changing. We drink a LOT of tea. We have a fetish for coffee shops too, but we buy tea-bags by the boxload. We have a lot of historic buildings. Unless your house dates back beyond 1800, it’s probably not worth bragging about it here. We are obsessed with house prices. Totally, insanely obsessed. Nobody in the UK forgets how much they paid for their house. EVER. You won’t really find ‘British’ restaurants here. This isn’t because British food sucks. We call them ‘pubs’ and they are everywhere. The more well-off go to ‘gastro-pubs’ which are just posh pubs. We never queue up to vote. that sounds insane. There are never queues. We queue for everything else, and we take queue jumping seriously. It’s just not British. What have I missed?