Category Archives: English

Do the British really care about Brexit? Yawns speak louder than abusive tweets

Leave supporters are threatening to kill, rape and castrate anyone they accuse of trying to stop Brexit. (I made the castrate bit up on the grounds that Twitter users should be less sexist.)

But is this sort of thing really British?Do the British really care about leaving or staying in the EU? And does anyone understand – or even want to understand – what’s going on? 

The British are supposed to embody the virtues of tolerance, fair play and respect for the other side. But that’s wrong – the myth was made up in the 18th and 19th centuries as a cover for racist imperialism.

Actually, the virtues of the average Briton are inertia, ignorance and apathy.

The British have better things to do than trying to understand complicated issues – preferring instead to watch Strictly, beg on the streets or write racist and homophobic tweets, depending on their socio-economic status, attitude to ballroom dancing and levels of bigotry.

Because of this horror of anything complicated or nuanced, their opinions are created by the ‘newspaper’ they read. Here are some examples:

Express readers obsess about the weather, Princess Diana and wanting to get their country back. 

Daily Mail readers are disgusted by sodomy, immigrants living in lavish houses and the arrogance of gay high court judges who dare to uphold the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law. 

Sun readers are experts on breasts, the sex lives of the stars and foreigners coming over here, taking our jobs and raping our women. 

Except the British aren’t actually that bothered about any of these ‘issues’. Not really. Not if you asked them to be honest – except for the breasts. Sun readers love page three.

So what do the British really care about?

Smartphones

Dogs and cats

Football

Cars – especially Clarkson

Hair styles and dyes 

Beauty – especially nails and eyebrows

Christmas

Sleep

Rollercoasters

Tattoos

House prices

Having sex in budget hotels

The bloody weather

Shopping

Celebrities shagging each other

EastEnders and Corrie

Greggs

Strictly Come Dancing

Bank holidays – wanting more

Traffic jams – wanting fewer

Celebrity paedophiles

Holidays in the sun

Getting pissed 

Debt

Jacuzzis 

Speed cameras

Facial hair

Weed

Sexy fancy dress

Writing abusive tweets or facebook posts – threatening to kill, rape (or, hopefully in a less sexist future, castrate) people they don’t like.

‘Political issues’ – and the EU is one of the more arcane – come about 158th on this list of priorities for the British, just behind ‘creosoting the fence’ and just above ‘the Royal Family’.

I’m off for a nap. 

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5 reasons why Germans on holiday in Spain are lovely

by Simon Henry @simlington

The German newspaper Bild caused a kerfuffle this summer with its less than complimentary description of the English abroad.

We’re apparently obnoxious and drunk.

Here’s a riposte, written by a pink Englishman on a very hot Majorcan beach, surrounded by Germans.

It describes why Germans are an absolute pleasure to be with on holidays. May this start to smooth the strained relations between our two countries.

1. Behaviour

Can you imagine how unbearable the English abroad would be this summer if we’d just won the World Cup?

Completely unbearable is the answer.

Spain would currently be awash with English-themed flags, shirts, towels, hats and newly inked tats on English skin – not to mention rowdily patriotic singing and aggressively xenophobic body language.

Apart from the odd replica football shirt, you wouldn’t know most Germans here are actually German.

2. Clothes

Even the most delightful, attractive and physically fit German women somehow manage to look like poorly made-up transvestites when they dress up for dinner.

This means the English heterosexual male is unlikely to get into trouble with the missus for gawping at nice German women in the resort’s bars and restaurants.

3. Haircuts

Many of the German men are under the misapprehension that the rat tail, mullet and poodle perm haircuts that made a short shameful appearance in the 1980s are still an acceptable option in 2014.

This means any half reasonable haircut looks really stylish – so Englishmen’s self esteem gets a much-needed boost, having been badly shaken by comparing their slightly flabby, white/pink bodies to the Spanish tanned, athletic ones.

4. Language

Being a typical Brit, I know about five German words – three of them being ‘Auf wiedersehen, pet’, so I can’t understand a word the Germans are saying (I haven’t heard any of them discussing the cult TV show).

Not hearing stock phrases like: ‘Christ it’s hot’, ‘Another scorcher today’ and ‘Go get us an ice cream will you, love?’ is such a relief while you’re trying to relax.

5. Unobtrusiveness

Many English people abroad think other English people abroad will want to speak to them – on the grounds that they’re English and abroad.

Not true.

You’re boring at home and you’re boring here, ‘mate’.

The German way is perfectly unobtrusive in comparison.

Not unfriendly – but certainly not liable to start an inane conversation about how many pints they drank at the Dog & Duck last night or how the Carling doesn’t quite taste the same as it does in Coventry.

I never thought I’d say this after the bad PR they get, but I’ll miss the Germans almost as much as I’ll miss the sun.

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Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

Commonwealth Games: Why Scotland wins whatever the result

by Simon Henry @simlington

The Commonwealth Games is a strange institution – a celebration of England invading other countries, on a sporting theme.

Every four years, Commonwealth countries (many with questionable human rights records) gather to celebrate their mediocrity in a variety of sports.

For example, Cameroonian wrestlers aren’t very good at wrestling. But they are good at going missing in countries with good human rights records, like Scotland.

Our Scottish hosts are unbeatable at some sports – curling, tossing the caber and baiting the English in arguments.

And their football team don’t raise national hopes by getting to World Cup finals, only to be humiliatingly kicked out at the first hurdle like some teams we could mention.

It’s all a game

These games come at an interesting time, with an independence vote imminent that could presumably see Scotland removed from the Commonwealth and the EU as well as Britain, the UK and the British Isles.

But no matter what happens in the games or the independence vote, Scotland wins.

Here’s why:

1. The men know how to cross dress.
When English men cross dress they just look like sluts. Scotsmen in kilts look ultra sexy and masculine – especially when they forego the sporran.

2. The lowliest alcoholic tramp has a wider vocabulary than the average product of an English public school.

3. Saying ‘murder’ with a strong Scottish accent is a lot of fun.

4. Scotland has its very own words and phrases like ‘loch’ (lake), ‘Sassenach’ (English b*stard) and ‘pure dead brilliant’ (good).

5. Haggis: What’s not to love about eating mashed up and spicy innards and offal?

6. Its football teams are called things like Stenhousemuir, Partick Thistle and Cowdenbeath.

7. Irn Bru is actually made in Scotland, from girders. No joke. Add it to a Tunnocks caramel wafer biscuit and you immediately think: ‘What hangover?’

8. It has a place called Glenrothes. Get a Scot to pronounce it properly. You’ll melt.

And if I’ve got something even slightly wrong in this blog, I look forward to a beautifully argued Scottish response that puts me back in my English box.

My Posts about sport include the amazing experience of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire, lessons in losing from the World Cup, why running marathons isn’t necessarily good for you and a Boat Race special about what Oxford fails to teach its students.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, you can sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

 

British summer: The 6 worst things about a British heatwave

by Simon Henry @simlington

We spend most of the year complaining about how cold, drizzly and depressing it is in Britain.

During deepest winter, the term ‘day’ has a sarcastic ring to it, and getting settled in front of the fire is as good as it gets.

We dream of those long, glorious summer days when the sun shines endlessly, A&E is inundated with burns and the train tracks melt.

But heatwaves aren’t all fun, you know.

Mansfield may be hotter than Malawi. Bognor may be warmer than Burundi. Perth may be more sweltering than, erm, Perth.

But there’s more to a British heatwave than dipping your feet in the North Sea and suffering frostbite, dripping Mr Wippy ice cream on your expensive new Bermuda shorts and sitting in a four-hour traffic jam, failing to get out into the countryside.

No, no, no. It really isn’t all fun. Here are six reasons why.

(It’s too hot to do any more than six.)

1.
British men are either really arrogant and talented TV chefs – or absolutely rubbish at cooking.

The majority can just about peel a banana, warm stuff in the microwave and open tins. They also think they can do the barbecue during a heatwave.

And of course they can’t – so levels of botulism and salmonella poising rise faster than the mercury in the thermometer.

2.
The British do translucent skin like no other nation.

Staring at the bluish tinge of a pair of traditional British legs does having a cooling effect on the viewer.

But it also makes you wonder just how people who own this type of skin can survive with literally zero Vitamin D in their system.

3.
The sight of a scrawny, tattooed, tanned youth riding a stolen bike while rolling a cigarette, drinking a can of Stella and swearing into a mobile makes a translucent, middle-aged, slightly overweight, non-multitasking man feel ever so slightly inadequate.

4.
Old ladies continue to wear the same anoraks, fleeces and wool hat combinations they sport in February.

Just looking at these ladies can make you pass out in a haze of overheated anguish.

5.
Although British men are cleaner than they used to be, a minority still believes that deodorant is only for women and effeminate males.

And a reasonably large subset of this moderately big subset still lives by the saying: ‘I have a bath once a month, whether I need it or not.’

Stand next to one of these old school morons on a packed Tube or bus journey and you’ll rue the high pressure creeping over the country from the Azores.

6.
People start writing annoying ‘humorous’ blogs about heatwaves.

And like a little child in a sweet shop who ends up getting so excited they’re sick on the floor, when the British weather gets too excitedly hot, it all ends in sickening thunderstorms before the dominant weather fronts from the west re-establish themselves in all their depressing, damp, drizzly glory.

Follow me @simlington on Twitter for more laughs.

And why not read some of my other blogs while you’re here. Some popular ones recently are: Defence of three letter acronyms, a warning about running marathons and an A-Z of horrible office jargon

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

The Tour de France Grand Depart: Why Yorkshire is actually part of France

by Simon Henry @simlington

People in both the Lycra-clad cycling world and the less tight-fitting normal world were amazed when Yorkshire became part of the Tour de France.

The idea did seem a bit weird at first – after all, Yorkshire’s in England, not France.

And 62% of bikes in Leeds get nicked within a month of purchase.

But Yorkshire and France have more in common than you may think – a spooky similarity that goes way beyond both being inhabited by Homo Sapiens and having North Sea coasts.

Here are some very good reasons why Yorkshire is secretly French.

We’re both very good at shrugging.

As everyone knows, the French don’t actually say: ‘Je ne sais pas.’

They shrug it.

Similarly, Yorkshire folk are people of few words – ‘No’, ‘Can’t’ and ‘Won’t’. And a Gallic shrug is a more likely response to most questions than any of these negative monosyllables.

We both make a lot of cheese.

Wensleydale, Swaledale and Yorkshire Blue are only some of the crumbly and pungent masterpieces produced in ‘God’s own county’.

The French famously can’t be governed because they make so many different cheeses.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire people are famously constipated or ‘bunged-up’ because of the sheer volume of cheese they get down their necks.

My dad had fruit tea cakes with cheese inside for his ‘jock’ (lunch sandwiches) for 27 years until my mum asked him if he wanted a change in 1998. He shrugged – and has been on tuna mayonnaise ever since.

We have a very strong sense of our own importance.

Or arrogance – if you’re not French or Yorkshire.
Enough said.
You’re all just jealous you’re not us.

Sparkling water

It’s a close run thing between Evian and Harrogate for the ‘best sparkling water in the world’ crown.

I don’t like to brag (much) but what I will say is that I’ve seen Harrogate sparkling water stocked in shops as far and wide as Liverpool, Nottingham and Clwyd (wherever that is.)

And it does have more bubbles in it than Evian. Just an observation.

We’re both gigantic

France is massive. It always amazes you when you look at a map and see how enormous it actually it is.

How did Henry VIII and all those kings and earls in history think they could conquer it?

This was before the ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ jibe had been invented. They probably had some ‘arrogant’ Yorkshire blood in them.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire is officially ‘England’s biggest and most magnificent county’.

When I say ‘officially’ I mean that’s the phrase Tourism Yorkshire made up.

But I like it. A lot.
It’s magnificent.

Like Yorkshire.

We both like flat headwear.

The flat cap and beret are suspiciously similar.

The flat cap being marginally more stylish – especially if you’re taking a whippet or a ferret for a walk down the Champs Élysées

Flour and fat

The Yorkshire pudding is basically a savoury version of the croissant isn’t it?

Eric Cantona.

I know Eric became known as Manchester United’s second best player ever after Georgie Best, RIP. And I know he did his best karate kick while wearing red.

But he came to Yorkshire first – a trial at Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a spell playing for Leeds United.

And he would have obviously stayed in the magnificent county of Yorkshire had certain alleged events not happened.

Always remember the French legend’s first choice was Yorkshire.

Floral symbols

We both have white flowers as our symbol.

The Fleur de Lis and the White Rose both smell nice and last for around five days in tepid water before they start to lose their petals.

Spooky.

If you enjoyed this, you may like this post How the Tour de France weekend gives us all 6 lessons in happiness

My Posts about sport include lessons in losing from the World Cup, why marathons aren’t necessarily good for you and a Boat Race special.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

Why losing is the new winning and a big thank you to the England football team

by Simon Henry @simlington

England’s footballers lose in style – with millions watching in horror as they mess it up again.

But we all go about our lives being losers every day.

We’re all losers now – in fact, we always have been.

But don’t worry – losing is the new winning.

‘Soy un perdedor. I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me?’
(I’ve only just realised the foreign line from this Beck song means ‘I’m a loser’ in Spanish.)
What a loser for not knowing that.

You can watch the video if you like (3 mins 56 secs).

It’s lost on me, I must say.

Types of losing

You can lose you marbles, senses, grip, touch, job.

You can also lose your virginity, fears and inhibitions.

And of course, we all lose to The Grim Reaper in the end.

Some types of losing sound bad – like losing touch.
But then if you lose touch with someone convicted of murder, it’s probably good.

Losing your fear of spiders is considered to be good.
But what if you so utterly conquer your arachnophobia, you end up befriending a tarantula that fatally bites you?

You see, things aren’t always as clear as they first seem.

Let’s take the World Cup as a case in point.

It’s commonly accepted that most English people wanted England to win the World Cup.

But imagine if it actually happened:

Doctors’ surgeries would be inundated with requests for betablockers, anxiety tablets and sleeping pills.
The NHS would basically collapse.

Wimbledon would probably be cancelled – and Andy Murray would be even more cross than normal.

Literally all England fans would get a tattoo of the St George cross – except people who already had one. They would add a picture of Steven Gerrard to their inky collection.

The price of bulldogs would go through the roof – and thefts of the breed would escalate.

The country would literally run out of Heineken, Stella, Carlsberg and Carling.

Millions more drivers would fly mini flags on their cars. With the resulting reduction in fuel efficiency, an energy crisis would potentially follow.

People simply wouldn’t bother going to work, so bodies would remain unburied, bins would remain unemptied … and McDonalds and KFC would remain closed.
(This last example would almost certainly necessitate Civil Emergency procedures with troops on the street, etc.)

The housing boom would suddenly turn to bust as the English forgot about their obsession with bricks and mortar.

The Scottish would definitely vote Yes to independence as the English became even more arrogant than normal.

The potential horror just goes on and on and on.

Actually that’s enough.

And then, after all the celebrations had died down, people would slowly realise that nothing had really changed.

(Except all the programmes about 1966 would be replaced by programmes about 2014. And Steven Gerrard would become Lord Gerrard of Toxteth.)

But really, it would just be like an extreme version of Christmas.
Really good to start with.
But after a while you just need a really good fart, a sleep then a cold turkey and stuffing sandwich with Only Fools & Horses.

So we’ve avoided some terrible lager hangovers, a canine crime epidemic and a collective nervous breakdown.

And just think about the excellent lesson it’s taught us all.

Everyone has to deal with losing stuff – keys, mojo, bottle …

And the more practice you get at losing, the better equipped you are when loss actually strikes.

As it always will.

So a big thank you to the set of losers who call themselves the England Football Team.

You’ve taught us how to lose in style.

Next loss: 2018. Group stage.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

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Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

World Cup: How to sound like a real football fan without knowing the first thing about the game

By Simon Henry @simlington

Just as we thought the football season was ending, World Cup Fever starts. Hmmm.

If you don’t understand the first thing about football, but don’t want to feel left out this summer, here’s a quick guide to sounding like a real fan.

And don’t worry – most people with an opinion about the actual football don’t know what they’re talking about either.

Here’s a table showing how the World Cup works. You’ll probably ignore it.

world--cup-rules

It is worth noting that England’s group has Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy in it.

Unfortunately, South Americans and Italians are generally better than us at football.

Now you theoretically know how the World Cup works – and that England are in a difficult group – you’re ready to approach conversation like a real football fan.

Five World Cup conversations you can join

1. Skill and tactics

Roy Hodgson's speech impediment was cruelly lampooned by The Sun newspaper who called him 'Woy'. He's good at tactics though.

Roy Hodgson’s speech impediment was cruelly lampooned by The Sun newspaper who called him ‘Woy’. He’s good at tactics though.

England’s players are a bit rubbish compared to lots of foreign players. But their managers pride themselves on their tactics.

Imagine a chess game on grass with all the pieces in football strips. That’s football tactics.

To sound like you understand tactics, say something like this:

“Will Roy (Hodgson the manager) go for 4-4-2, 4-3-3, or 4-5-1?’

Or ‘Will Roy go for Spain’s False Nine? Or the Sweeper System?’

Just say these out loud – there’s absolutely no need to know what they actually mean.

2. Optimism/Pessimism

Remember, you are allowed to admit England probably won’t win the competition – and may get kicked out after the first round.

Even the most optimistic England supporter accepts this, deep down.

The classic England supporter’s approach is to sound utterly jaded – but with just a touch of optimism.

Use phrases like: ‘We’ve got a mountain to climb to even reach the quarters – but once we’re there, who knows?’

3. Weather

How can we expect our boys to cope in a country where parrots live?

How can we expect our boys to cope in a country where parrots live?

The weather is a great get-out clause for poor England performances. Especially in South America where European countries never win.

Use phrases like:

‘Our boys are going to struggle in the conditions’ and

‘It doesn’t seem fair to expect our lads to perform in those conditions.’

Expect appreciative nods all round whenever you use the word ‘conditions’.

4. Foreign cheats

I’m not claiming the average England supporter is paranoid, but you won’t go far wrong with phrases like:

‘The Italians/Uruguayans/Costa Ricans have always gone down like a sack of spuds.’

‘Italian/Uruguayan/Costa Rican football’s a different beast – more diving than in an Olympic pool.’

Try to ensure your similies and metaphors involve vegetables or other sports and you won’t go far wrong.

5. Penalties

Even good England players like David Beckham are rubbish at penalty shoot outs.

Even good England players like David Beckham are rubbish at penalty shoot-outs. He’s retired now but the current players are just as crap.

England traditionally lose penalty shoot-outs. (These only happen in the knock-out stages, so they will probably be irrelevant.)

Still, you should keep phrases like the following in mind, just in case England actually get through the first round:

‘We don’t have the confidence to win on penalties.’

‘We’ll bloody bottle it – as usual.’

‘Penalty shoot-outs aren’t the English way. And we’re sh*t at them.’

6. Useful player details

Try to memorise some of the info about these players to sound like a pro England football fan.

Steven Gerrard aka Steve G: Midfielder and captain. Lifelong Liverpool player. Skills: Long range passing, tackling, dead balls. Unusual for a footballer in that he can string more than two sentences together and seems like a pretty decent and thoughtful chap.

Chris Smalling: Defender. Manchester United. Weak link in the team if you’re talking to anyone who isn’t a Man United fan. Use phrases like ‘untrustworthy’ and ‘really not sure what he’s doing in Brazil’ for Smalling and the other England and Man United defender, Phil Jones.

Adam Lallana: Attacking midfielder. Southampton. New to the England team. Will give the side ‘much-needed creativity’. Make ooohing and aaahing noises whenever he makes a creative pass, does a creative run or tries a creative shot.

Joe Hart: Goalkeeper. Manchester City. Had a flaky season despite appearing in a Head & Shoulders advert. Make this joke a couple of times per game. Others fans will, if you don’t.

Daniel Sturridge: Striker. Liverpool. Does a body-popping dance when he scores. Very greedy, shoots all the time and will miss at least three chances per game – if England cross the halfway line.


With thanks to Scott Allen @grumpyscott for his much-needed expertise on all matters football. 

If you enjoyed this, you may like The British: A humorous guide to a misunderstood and eccentric people

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

Feel free to follow me @simlington if you like too.

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014