Colour Me British

September 1, 2012
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I have always been British, but I was never truly conscious of the fact until I came to America. From the moment I entered the country, I was an alien. I was unusual and odd. Over the years, I’ve maintained my “Britishness” – that is, I am still asked to “just keep talking” and to listen to imitations of my countrymen. Unfortunately, most of the time, attempted imitations sound more like strangled squawks of a backwater, kangaroo loving Australian than those of a subject of the Empire’s Motherland. To be British isn’t just about the voice, the stiff upper lip, and the way you carry yourself; it goes deeper. To be British is a life choice. Like being a vegan or an overachiever, it’s all about dedication and by following a few simple steps it is easy to preserve the true Briton inside of you.

To begin, you must sound like a true Brit. When imitating the accent remember: the British value a lack of education, so the cockney accent is preferred. Politely say, “Hullo Gov’nur” to everyone you meet. Study the Gieco Gecko commercials. Memorize the translation of different words: trousers not pants, biscuits not cookies. If you are unsure how to say something make it up and blur your words together; the British despise diction and will therefore applaud your lack thereof. When you are speaking remember to drop consonants and vowels whenever possible. Luckily, your misshapen teeth will do most of the work for you. Turn “Harry Potter” into “Ahry Po’ur” and transform “water” into “warer.” Don’t make the silly American mistake of pronouncing a “T” as a “D”: simply remove it from all words altogether. Once your accent is perfected, you may proceed to the next step.

Next, you must acclimatise your wardrobe. As we are all aware, women in England wear hoop skirts and corsets and are forbidden to show skin above the ankle. Men keep to a more relax standard; black suits and bowler hats (which must be worn whenever outside) are the norm and an umbrella is a must-have accessory. Also, since the sky outside is constantly gray, wearing that colour is a major faux pas. All clothing must be neatly presented. Do not contemplate the thought of leaving the house without ironing your clothing first or risk ostracisation. Because no one in England wears jeans, and shorts are thought of as scandalous, either donate them to charity, throw them out, or burn them. The British love a good burning so the latter is preferred. Finally, always remember that the most important person in the room is the person with the most audacious hat. Women usually compete with large feathers, bows, bright colours, and the width of their brim; men compete with the cost of their hats and the materials used.

The third and final step toward becoming a true Briton is to love football (just make sure it’s the right kind). When preparing for a football match shave your head and paint your face blue, place your bowler hat on your head, and proceed out the door. Whilst waving to your local policemen jump over the fence into the stadium. The sign that says keep out is meant for foreigners, such as the French, and should be ignored. If the match is canceled, delayed, or your teams loses it is acceptable to march onto the pitch and angrily throw paint at the opposing team. It is of course written somewhere in the Magna Carta (which came before the Constitution) under the section for the unalienable rights of football fanatics. The only thing that may take you of the pitch is tea time. Since missing your afternoon tea is the only thing worse than your team losing the match.

If follow properly, these steps will allow you to imitate a Briton to perfection and if needed to create for yourself a spot in the decent society of England. Even though I have lived in America for close to a decade, my dedication to these steps has allowed me to remain forever British. Use your new found “Britishness” for good, and when someone asks you to say, “Butterscotch” or worse yet “Harry Potter” refrain from hitting them over the head. Instead, take it as a complement; you have succeeded.

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