Talking Point columnist Beverley Momenabadi on the essence of Britishness
I was never aware of my very British tendencies until becoming friends with a few Cypriots over the last few years.
And it was then that I started to notice; whenever I got in to a lift, I would go immediately silent. Why? It’s just what us British do, we do not talk in lifts, never.
Or, after a night out, always leaving the taxi by saying farewell to the driver in a variety of ways ‘yep just here, cheers mate, thanks pal, cheers, see ya then, bye’, why so many versions of bye when just a simple ‘goodbye’ would suffice? Because that’s just what we British do. Here I present you with some of our very British ways .
1) Moaning about the weather
My mum is a walking, talking, living example of every one of these British problems but moaning about the weather is the one that she does best. Over the summer every time we spoke over the summer she would say, ‘oh gosh, it’s boiling Bev. I wish it would just rain”.
We’ve now got through our heat wave and every time I speak to her she tells me, ‘it’s bloody freezing isn’t it. I’ve had to keep the heating on, the weather is such rubbish, we should go somewhere hot for Christmas’. I do wonder if and when she’ll ever be satisfied?
2) Putting your bag on the seat next to you when travelling on any form of public transport in the hope that no-one sits next to you.
Guilty as charged. Tram, train or bus; my handbag is going on that seat next to me to avoid any human interaction whilst travelling. Until, of course, a little old dear gets on. Then you throw the bag off, not to appear to be the selfish inconsiderate person that you in fact are.
3) Never knowing what the appropriate use of emojis is for your boss.
Always a tough one. Do middle aged men even used emojis? Will this appear to be crossing boundaries? Well, I work for a senior politician and these are the questions I regularly asked myself when using emojis in texts, when I first started working for him. My advice, stick with the safe emojis: crying/laughing face, angry face, sad face, shocked face. Don’t branch out in to tongue-in-cheek emojis, this is dodgy ground.
4) Not having the ability to ‘just go for one drink’
In the history of going for ‘just one drink’, I am yet to meet a living soul that has just been for one.
5) When someone seriously overweight refers to themselves as ‘overweight’, you immediately respond with ‘don’t be silly’ whilst wanting the ground to eat you up.
The Cypriots don’t do this. If you’re overweight, they will tell you that you are, whereas we British are somewhat kinder with the truth. For us it’s easier to say ‘no, you’re not’ and then change the subject .
6) Going immediately silent as soon as you step foot in a lift and upholding the awkward silence as the lift gets to your floor.
I can say that in my 27 years, I have never been in a lift and held a conversation with anyone.