Saturday, 23 April 2016

What it means to be English

In which G.M. Norton examines what it means to be English.


Today is the 400th year since the death of William Shakespeare and more poignantly for your favourite protagonist, the 13th year since the family hound passed away. 

It is also St George's Day, when the nation considers celebrating being English, before deciding that we couldn't possibly show any emotion. It's what stiff upper lips are made of.
I thought that to mark St George's Day, I would witter on about some of my favourite personal idiosyncrasies that reveal me to be as English as a glass of Pimm's on a rained-soaked summer's day.

1. A constant need to apologise 

Sorry, I know you've probably read this before, but English men and women just can't help apologising. It's ingrained into our souls. I'm not sure what Elton was blathering on about when he sung that sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Profuse apologising always seems to occur when somebody is approaching and in an attempt to dodge each other, we both step the same way. Before doing it again. An impromptu dance-off, if you will. "Sorry," I say. "Sorry," they say.

2. A preoccupation with the weather

The weather is an important matter and must be discussed with all and sundry. Especially when stood in a lift with a complete stranger (that's elevator, to my friends across the pond).

Seriously though, is it raining where you are? Will I need a coat?

3. An addiction to tea

During the Second World War, most commodities were rationed. Tea wasn't one of them. England is built on tea, which perhaps explains the slightly brown water in the North Sea.

4. Telling my doctor that I'm fine when they ask how I am

I visited my doctor last month. As I didn't deem it to be an urgent matter, it took six weeks from making the appointment to sitting in front of the highly capable but disconcertingly young medic. "How are you, Mr Norton?" she kindly enquired as I sat down.

"Fine, thank you Doctor," I replied, before proceeding to reel off the four of five different ailments that I had saved up before deciding that it was time to seek some medical attention.

5. Entering into a pretend run when a driver waves to let me cross the road

I find that I do this every day. I just can't help myself. Stood by the kerb, usually in front of a zebra crossing and the car brakes harshly to allow me safe passage across the road. And then it happens. I break into what could only be described as a very light jog to show the driver that I'm grateful and trying to cross the road quickly. We both know that it would have taken the same amount of time if I'd just walked.

So, there you have it. Five things that I consider to be my quintessentially English traits.

Now, I'm off to make a cup of tea. I might even break open a packet of biscuits. 

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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2 comments:

  1. Sorry Mr N but St Edmund used to be our patron saint before the Vikings and Henry VIII annexed him to France. I do believe they dug him up and brought him home again to Arundel.

    Now, lets have a nice cup of tea - and surely dunking is part of the English way of life?

    As to the Doctor - did you ask her how she was in turn? I did this at my last consultation - oh dear.

    Finally the preoccupation with the weather and the need for vest-donning or not may just be an up-north thing. We have a lot of weather here.

    Waving my flag-ly

    Mrs Elaine Phipps

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    Replies
    1. I've just consumed another cup of tea. I'm currently enjoying the afterglow, if I should admit to such a thing.

      My doctor is frightfully nice so we did engage in a little idle chit-chat. It was the day before a Bank Holiday weekend though and I was one of her last appointments so for both our sakes, she didn't expand on any of her own personal medical problems.

      I think you are quite correct on the North weather quirks. Sunshine, hail and rain all featured during today's mid-afternoon tea break. Thankfully, I was on the inside looking out.

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