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Ten Things Americans Must Not Do When Visiting the UK

by Andy Walsh

I think it was Winston Churchill who said that 'Britain and America are two nations that are divided by a common language'. If it wasn't him, then it should have been because it's a great quote.

Americans going to the UK for the first time wrongly assume that it's similar to the US. WRONG! There are some substantial differences. By following the ten rules that I set out below, you will able make sure that you don't make too many mistakes during your visit.

1. Americans are thought of as quite funny in the UK. Just remember, it's nothing personal. They'll laugh at anything and anyone. It's how they survive in all that rain.

2. Use both your knife and fork when eating. It's a habit of Americans to try and do everything with just a fork. This will single you out in a restaurant. Don't do it. Tightly grip that knife and don't let go.

3. Don't talk too loudly. For some reason, Americans abroad seem to increase the volume a few notches. There's no need. Most Britons are not clinically deaf, even those brought up on The Who and The Rolling Stones.

4. Don't mention the rain. When you're there, don't go on about the weather back home, especially if you live in Florida or California. It rains a lot in the UK. Don't remind the British that in other parts of the world there is such a thing as hot and sunny weather. It doesn't go down well.

5. Don't complain about the beer being warm. There is a reason for this. It's to let the drinker taste the flavour of the beer. Be warned: some British ales can be VERY strong. If a friendly local buys you a pint of beer and starts smirking at you, you can be guaranteed that within a few drinks you'll have your arm round him and be inviting him back to your home town for a vacation - no bad thing, if that's what you want.

6. When in Scotland, don't wear tartan. Only Americans and people working for the tourist industry do that. Especially don't wear or buy a tartan jacket. It's not cool and it's not clever. Just don't do it.

7. The price of gasoline (petrol) in the UK is much higher than in the States. Again, don't mention this. It won't make you any friends - at all. Also, don't mention the price of cars, real estate, jeans or sneakers.

8. When in Stratford Upon Avon, don't be duped by anyone claiming to be a relation of Shakespeare. At the last count, there were at least 450 people posing as the Bard's descendents. Also, don't believe anyone who can get you his email address (thanks to 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' for that one!!).

9. Don't talk about football, baseball, hockey or basketball. No one in the UK is interested or cares. They don't really play them and they don't really like them.

10. Do enjoy yourself. Britain is a lovely place and steeped in history. Get out and enjoy yourself. Contrary to popular opinion, the British Cuisine has greatly improved in the last few years. Enjoy watching the BBC - there are no commercial breaks! And if you get chance to go to a soccer (football) game, then go - it's a great sport.

Well, I hope that helps you out. Enjoy your trip.

(c) Andy Walsh 2001

Andy Walsh is a househusband and writer living in Cumbria in the UK. He writes novels, short stories and poems some of which you can read at http://www.stbrodag.com
Contact him at andwalsh@lineone.net

"America and Britain are two nations divided by a common language" - George Bernard Shaw - Editor

 

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