Queer As British Folk

British habits are second nature to those who have lived here for the majority of their lives. But as a foreigner living in Britain for the first time, I’ve noticed that you have some very queer traits…

You like to dress up.

Elsewhere, people think combing your hair is enough preparation to go out for a beer. Not in Nottingham. Even on a Monday night, the centre of town looks like the walk-in wardrobe of a glitzy awards show. At Christmas. Girls wear bright dresses, short dresses, saucy hot pants, and skirts that can more accurately be described as large belts. No matter the circumstances, people believe in beauty, colour, grooming, glamour and the power of make-up. It’s a triumph.

You like to play with cyclists’ minds.

An artist’ impression of what British road signs effectively say: “Go cycle on the pavement. Now get on the road. Quick, get back on the pavement! Now cross in front of those trucks. Now go down this hill really fast – relax, you’re fine, you’re on a bicycle lane. Oh, no, you’re not, the bicycle lane just ended. Yes, that is a very busy roundabout down there. Now die.”

You apologise a lot.

Now don’t skip this one because it is a cliché. The truth is beyond a cliché. The English seem to have ‘Sorry’ Tourette’s. In fact, it’s hard to establish whether you are mumbling it under your breath constantly, or whether you just say it whenever someone is in hearing distance and could possibly bump in to you. People also say ‘There you go’ and ‘Thank you’ a lot. Maybe the British are considered well-spoken because they just speak so many more words per hour than everyone else.

You are verbally all over each other.

To be honest, I haven’t witnessed this too much with students. But once you venture into town, it’s like a love fest. ‘Are you alright there, love?’ ‘No problem, darling.’ ‘Want a cob, duck?’ ‘There you go, my lovely.’ It is nice. It is warm. It is safe. It is love.

You like British products.

Just walk around in one of your extremely big supermarkets. You don’t have beef, you have British beef. You don’t have sugar, you have British sugar. You don’t have tomatoes, you have British tomatoes. You don’t have tampons… you get the idea.

You like charity.

In Beeston, there are more charity shops than normal shops. Just pick a disease or a third world country and you will find a corresponding store. And then there is baking for fundraising. I always picture groups of girls on baking all-nighters, wiping the sweat off of their foreheads with the backs of their flour-covered hands, whilst possibly listening to ethnic music of some description. What better way to end poverty than with a British cupcake?

You are forgetful.

Well, this doesn’t go for guys. But among the girls, a certain kind of amnesia seems to be spreading around campus. Or is there another reason to walk around without a skirt/a long enough top/shorts? Surely, it cannot be fashion to walk around in just a t-shirt and tights? Your pants are on show. That is just not right.

Your products talk to you.

For some reason, this is especially true for bags. “I’m not a plastic bag.” “I am a foldaway bag”. “I am a brown paper bag; this is my life cycle.” My shampoo just can’t control itself: “Smooth me on. Lather me up. Massage me in. Mmmm.” Odds are that food is going to follow the trend soon. “Hi there love! I am the left bum-cheek of a dead pig. Eat me and you’ll grow strong. And did I mention that I’m British?”

Dina Pardijs

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