How To Be British

For my first HelloGiggles column, I wanted to introduce myself by way of a quick guide to being British. I am British through and through – I love queuing, I like being kept on my toes by the changes of seasons and I love that I live on this tiny little island that speaks so loudly to the world. I am a bit obsessed with current affairs and always have my nose stuck into what’s going on, whether it’s from following Twitter trends, watching reality TV or reading the broadsheets. The UK creates so much beautiful art, music and style – I hope HG readers from the UK, US and all round the world like hearing what I have to say about it all.

Here’s my little guide on how to be British.

Obsessively read fashion tips in magazines, blogs, columns and tweets…then go right on ahead and ignore them. Look, our seasons change every five minutes and we just can’t scrape together enough pennies to keep updating our wardrobes all the time. Better to choose a funky signature style and stick to it (perhaps with a few catwalk-inspired adjustments or accessories). I think of my style as casual-pretty meets old-lady-vintage; a style based around a good selection of dresses that I can dress up with heels and lippy or down with trainers and a nice warm cardigan. Yes, I said cardigan.

Watch soaps. The whole of Great Britain is split between those who watch Eastenders (me!) and those who watch Coronation Street, but the main thing is to pick a side and stick to it. Through thick and thin, on holidays and dull working weeks alike, you can always rely on the fact that the people on the soaps are having a harder time than you are. Apparently some people claim not to watch soaps. These people are lying.

Complain when your favourite show is remade for a US network but secretly prefer the NBC version. The Office, anyone?

Make the most of summer festivals. I’ve been to Glastonbury festival almost every year since I was born, and love that many other boutique-y festivals have sprung up all over the country. Nothing says being British more than watching your favourite band in the rain whilst wearing a pretty summer dress and wellies.

Get really, REALLY excited when your country’s sports teams make it to international events…and then pretend the whole thing never happened when they get knocked out in the second round. *cough*everyworldcupsince1966*cough*. I don’t even like football much, but I can’t help but get swept up in the hype.

Speaking of hype, get hyped. About anything and everything. For a small country, we have a lot going on – get involved. Don’t pretend you’re not excited about the 2012 Olympics – we all are – so let’s just admit it and enjoy the togetherness of it all.

Be slightly uncomfortable when you talk about the Royal Family. Kate’s done wonders for their public image, but is it ok to be fond of the Royals? Nobody knows!

Get on yer bike! There’s nothing like going on a bike ride with a good friend, getting covered in mud, and letting her giggle at you for the rest of the trip. I’m more often a cycle-to-work kinda girl – you get to be smug about doing regular exercise but chances of getting muddy are minimal.

Slag off your country when it suits – but ultimately be patriotic. You know how you can slag off your sister to anyone who’ll listen, but woe betide anyone else who says anything negative about her? That.

Exaggerate your accent to sound cute. Whenever I speak to someone from the US, Australia or another English-speaking country, I find myself getting more and more British-sounding by the second. I even said “cheerio” on the phone the other day. I’m going to visit New York in March and have already started practising my best Queens English! And boys, we know you do it too.

Drink tea. Lots of it. ‘Nuff said.

Image via England For All

  • Meredith Bagdazian

    You know how some people feel like they were born in the wrong time or the wrong body? I was born in the wrong country!! I have wanted to be British my whole life: watching British TV before it was cool, raised on Masterpiece everything, adopting a home counties accent on trips to Disneyland, buying groceries at the few British markets in Southern California. Maybe I should just marry a British man? Cheers!

    • Laura Lakshmi Cope-Morgan

      i did! and the accent is still amazing! :)

    • Jenna Howell

      :) I too was bone in the wrong country…I want to be british…but Ill have to settle with just marrying one someday

    • Elizabeth Keizner

      I married a Brit and highly recommend it! He has many wonderful qualities, but I will say that accent turns mundane comments like “we need more paper towels” into charming observations.

  • Alexandra Kessie

    Some very British traits outlined there missy except I have to be tentative on the use of the word seasons – its rain or sun wind rain. Then wind and rain again. Sun is schizophrenic here but I love it all the same.

  • Liza Baron

    Hey Meredith, I’ll get scouting for an eligible British bachelor for you!

    • Geanna Marín

      And one for me, please? :)

  • Conchita Danielle G

    When I am in England,. or (what ever country) I Always seem to fall into their sound of speech,.like it already starts on the plane! when going to a England airport for a mini-stop towards USA , I started to shift accents ,. I think not to feel awkward or something or just bcause I think it’s fun Idk , hahah

    ( and it’s weird when I was little I liked American-English , but now I have gotten older I prefer British-English because it’s LESS Twangy and nasal sounding than A-E

    and before B-E was another language for me , (that like suddenly spoiled a movie in my mind) but know I can’t get enough of B-E speaking actors/movies I love Keira Knightley etc.and I also love to watch the old style periodical movies : Pride and Prejudice, The Dutchess, (Becoming Jane , S&S ) etc. BECAUSE nOw I Understand it! haha

    ANNND when I was younger I could never do the B-E accent , but when I grew up , day I suddenly could ,.. and that’s how I became able to understand it XD 😀

  • Lauren Maslen

    Ohhh, this brought back so many memories of my year in England! Ugh, I miss it. Thank you for this, Liza!

  • Harriet Ward

    Great article Liza. I’m a southerner too – Isle of Wight! I also think Brits are overly polite when we don’t always need to be. If somebody bumps into me by accident, I’ll say sorry! This is a very British trait I think!

    • Eilis Edmonds

      We may be polite.. but I have to say we’re pretty stern – if that’s the right word to use. I hate watching American TV when they seem to be overly energetic and happy, but it seems completely ungenuine. Or the whole American store idea of pestering you and ‘have a good day, mam’. Quite glad we haven’t caught on with that; I like to be left alone when shopping.

  • Geanna Marín

    I’m not British, and that’s a shame… But I keep pretending that I am even if I’m Spanish! Actually I had that British guy from Leeds asking me if I was from Manchester or somewhere near because of my accent, whilst his friends asked me if I was from Melbourne for the same reason. The started and argument about it which I end with “Well… I’m Spanish, actually…” Lol.
    And well, I haven’t seen ‘The Office’ but I’m a HUGE ‘Skins’ fan and let me tell you that, the US versions of Skins is the worst thing EVER. And actually I’m living with the fear that they decide to make an US version of Sherlock without Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman… That would be the end of my world.

  • Catrin Morgan

    I’m the exact opposite of the 1st person to comment, I’ve always grown up wanting to be American and watching/listenin to American culture etc. I’m very proud to be British/Welsh though :)

  • Mackenzie Barrow Warren

    This is the column I’ve been waiting for! By your criteria I am actually British!

  • Anonymous

    I just got back to the States in December from my semester in Canterbury and I feel super homesick. I want to go back! Nothing like some good ole Spoons pub food.

  • Lindsay Ann

    As a huge Anglophile. this column makes me very happy! :)

  • Tish Chambers

    For your next article, will you teach us how to drink tea like the Brits do?
    I don’t know how to drink tea! What kind to buy? How to I make it? What do I put in it? It’s everywhere on British shows (I watch a LOT) like Americans with their coffee. I want to be cool and British but I need to know how to make good British tea!
    P.S. I admit I like the American remake of Shameless better than what I saw of the original, but please don’t tell me you actually thought the MTV Skins was better! (It made me die a little inside…)

    • Amy Rowe

      If you like Sherlock, you have to watch our version of The Office. It is Martin Freeman at his most adorable (he is made of kittens after all). I just have to say, I am 100% English but I honestly do not follow a soap! I think we just have a love for telly in general, I get much more excited about a good BBC Drama :) I do love tea though…all day everyday.

    • Karen Cooke

      From my recent trip to the States (American Boyfriend) you can not buy decent tea bags there, you will need to come to England to be shown how to make a cup of tea the correct way! Milk and two sugars please!

    • Liza Baron

      “Martin Freeman is made of kittens” – love it!

  • Liza Baron

    Thanks everyone, hope I didn’t make anyone too homesick! There’s a particularly irritating kind of rain in Brighton today – no-one likes that!

  • Liza Baron

    Oh, and Tish, I’d be more than happy to give you a ‘How to make tea’ column, hooray! (It’s been a long day, I probably shouldn’t be so excited about tea)

  • Aimée Wootton

    A fellow Brit here, I agree with every single aspect of this article!

  • Ana Raquel Romão

    I’m from Portugal and I have to say I’m right up there with you on the Eastenders bit :)

  • Autumn Kieft

    A fellow Anglophile here. Like was stated above, I was born in the wrong country.

  • Janet A. Hopkins

    Anglophile here. My family is from a town nearby Brighton, Heyshott. Wish I could visit someday!!

  • Ella Earp-Lynch

    Yay Brighton! Worthing girl here. I had to switch soap allegiance as I live in Canada now & it’s quite hard to find EastEnders but the Canadians are frighteningly all about the Corrie.

  • Judi Barber

    Thank you for your affirmation that although I have lived in Houston since I was 13, I am, in fact, still British!!! (Hubby says “I could have told you that”) I thought all these traits were just me, but apparently it’s a national thing… YAY!!

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