From me, one of the best things about travel is the amazing people you meet along the way! However, when mingling with fellow travellers and locals, once they find out I’m English there are several inevitable questions which are sure to come up in conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all up for a little bit of small talk but, some such questions inadvertently spark an inwards eye roll and here’s why:
1) Where about’s do you live?
An innocent question every traveller faces when chatting to people abroad is: ‘where are you from?’. However, when the answer of ‘England’ is given, this perfectly crimeless icebreaker turns into an aggravating exchange for us Brits.
This is for one very simply reason: The follow up question. This of course is something along the lines of ‘cool where about’s?’…
Its not actually the question here which raises an issue, more that the only acceptable answer appears to be London.
Although Britain consists of much more than just the capital, the world seems to be unaware of this fact. Thus, the question must be met with an answer of: ‘oh near London’, even if in fact you live in the Scottish highlands.
(For the record, that is about as far away from the capital as you can get).
Sure this could be a challenge faced by other nationalities. But, in Europe any how, most country’s seem to have at least several internationally known cities. France, for example, of course has Paris but also, Cannes, Strasbourg and Marseille.
Alas perhaps us English are to blame and its time to get more of our cities on the map, a trip to New Castle anyone?
2) Aren’t you going to cheers?
The culprits for asking this second stereotypical question are, I’m afraid to say, largely Americans.
If a group of English Travellers enter a bar or restaurant within the US – I’m totally aware that this sentence sounds like the beginning of a really corny joke… Anyway back to the point: they’ll more than likely be meet with the question: ‘Aren’t you going to cheers?’ when presented with a round of drinks. The waiter/server will then eagerly stand by the table until the act of ‘cheersing’ has been completed.
On my trips to the states, I have never had the heart to inform such people that the British don’t cheers every time a drink is placed in their hands – its more of a celebratory practice. Further, its never done on demand… Unless at a wedding, ‘cheersing’ is obligatory at wedding.
Ok, so I’m not really clearing the rules up here and god forbid I mention that ‘cheers’ is also often used as an alternative for ‘thanks’ in England.
Thus with the rules surroundings the practise rather complicated and hard to explain, it seems unlikely that Americans will grasps the concept anytime soon and us English will be subjected to the role of performing monkeys within restaurant for ever more.
3) Do you know the queen?
Now this is a question which, although I have admittedly encountered less often than others on the list, really grinds my gears.
Despite having a population of around 64 million, it is somehow assumed by some that just because I’m English, I must have met the queen.
Sorry to disappoint but, the Queen doesn’t visit every household in the country for a cup of tea. In truth, unless you’re famous, received an OBE or happen to be chosen as a little kid to give her flowers, then its unlikely that you will ever meet her.
4) Don’t you just love afternoon tea?
The rest of the world seems to be mesmerised by the quaint English tradition of afternoon tea, sparking lots of questions about the how much we supposedly love it.
While I do appreciate a good afternoon tea – call me boring but cucumber sandwiches are all the rage, I can’t say I’ve had the full spread more than twice in my 19 years as a British Citizen.
As such, although we seemingly portray the image of all sitting round sipping tea and tucking into a lemon tart, the truth is us Brits are far more occupied with an argument over the pronunciation of the word ‘scone’ rather than actually partaking in afternoon tea.
Therefore, something seen as quintessentially British is, largely, not eaten by the majority of the country – again sorry to disappoint.
5) Does it rain all the time?
This last question is only on the list due to the frequency I’ve had it asked.
Essentially, its a simple question to be met with an even simpler answer: yes.
I’m afraid to say that this is one stereotypical view about England that is in fact true. Thus any trip to our fine little country should met with careful packing – umbrella and a rain coat are essentials!
DISCLAIMER – This post is meant light-heatedly and no offence is intended 🙂
Are there any similar questions you’ve encountered on your travels? Or annoying stereotypes of your nationality? I’d love to hear any thoughts in the comments below: