Very British




Most British people expect the person in front of them to hold the door open for them. People think you are rude, if you do not do this. But British football supporters have a reputation for violence.




Most British people queue when they are waiting for a bus or waiting to be served in a shop. Things are different during the rush hour. When a bus or train arrives, people often push forward to make sure they get on. This is called jumping the queue.


The police


You can ask a police officer for help, if you are lost. Most British police officers are friendly, helpful and polite. But sometimes the police have been accused of not treating people fairly, especially people from black and Asian communities.


The cold


British people are used to the cold. They use thick curtains and carpets to keep their houses warm. A lot of British houses are old and not always well insulated. British people must pay VAT on all gas and electricity, so heating costs are high. Some people can't afford to heat their homes well. Every winter about 350 old people die of hypothermia, extreme loss of body heat.




Britain is sometimes foggy in winter, but it does not have the kind of smog it used to have. Smog was smoke from coal mixing with fog to pollute the air. In 1956, smokeless zones were created in towns and cities and the amount of industrial smoke from factories was limited by law. The air in cities became much cleaner.


Now there are so many fumes from cars, lorries and buses that air quality is not very good. The Government says it will try to stop car drivers from using their cars so much and improve public transport.




The British love animals so much that there is a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), but only a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Fox-hunting has been a British tradition for hundreds of years. Specially trained dogs hunt a fox, with men and women following on horseback. The fox is often killed by the dogs.



a  Think of four things that you think are typically British.

b  Compare your list with the typically British things mentioned in the text.


Make a list of things that you think are typical of your country. Does your partner agree with you or not? Why?


Michael Vaughan-Rees, Geraldine Sweeney, Picot Cassidy: In Britain; Cornelsen Verlag, 2000, page 6 f.