The stereotypes of the British people.

The British, like the people of every country, tend to be attributed with certain characteristics which are supposedly typical.

One example of this is a popular belief that Britain is a “land of tradition”. And at the level of public life it’s undoubtedly true. The annual ceremony of the state opening of Parliament, the ceremony of “trooping the colour”, the changing of the guard carefully follow customs which are centuries old. The British like symbols of tradition and stability. However, in their private everyday lives the British as individuals are less inclined to follow traditions. There are very few ancient customs that are followed by the majority of families. The British are too individualistic for such things. They have a general sentimental attachment to older, supposedly safer, times. For them it is more prestige to live in an old house, than in a new one; their Christmas cards usually depict scenes from past centuries; they like their pubs to look old. The British can be particularly and stubbornly conservative about anything which is perceived as a token of Britishness. In these matters, their conservatism can combine with their individualism. It’s difficult to imagine that they will ever agree to change to driving on the right, they are reluctant to change their system of currency and the metric system. They are rather proud of being different.

Another stereotype is that the British are rather formal in their general behavior. This is not true. There is a difference between observing formalities and being formal in everyday life. Attitudes towards clothes are a good indication of this difference. Lots of men who wear suits during the week can then be seen in old sweaters and jeans.There are many examples of supposedly typical British habits which are simply not typical any more. For example, the stereotyped image of the London “city gent” includes the wearing of a bowler hat. In fact, this type of hat has not been commonly worn for a long time. Food and drink provide other examples. The traditional “British” breakfast is a large “fry-up” preceded by cereal with milk and followed by toast, butter and marmalade, all washed down with lots of tea. What the vast majority of British people have in the mornings is therefore much closer to what is called a “continental” breakfast. The British are supposed to love queering. In fact, they do form queues whenever they are waiting for something, but this doesn’t mean that they enjoy it.

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