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Is there a canon of British culture? Watch

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    Ok here's the context. I'm 39 years old, born in Amsterdam, NL, and living there. I've travelled to my family in the UK (Hampshire) about twice per year, for many years.
    I've been a member of the church of England here in Amsterdam for the past ~18 years. During my childhood I listened to BBC World Service every day, for hours.

    All this to say, even though I'm a foreigner, Britain is a home away from home for me.

    Now my little brother, 24 years old, is currently working on his first Ph.D. in theology, at St Andrews in Scotland.

    When he left for Scotland to finish his MA, I gave him and his wife the "Word Power Dictionary", and a good grammar book, to use as coffee table books. Because even though they could make themselves understood in English, their language was still a bit inadequate, especially for academic students.

    Now at his last visit back to Holland, he challenged me. He said: "Vocabulary and grammar is all great, but I'm living and working mostly with international students. So what I have trouble learning is this: culture, references, literature, poetry, history, television series that everyone knows, jokes everyone understands but me, beautiful sayings everyone knows and I don't understand, etiquette, and so on and so forth."

    He challenged me: "You did write up a list with '56 places you should know in Amsterdam' for your foreign friends who live there. Can you collect a list of one hundred things I should know about British/Scottish culture for me?"

    And he's right. When we talk on the phone, I notice that there's often many things I take for granted he'll understand. But then he doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about.

    I have a blind spot for those things. So could you please help me compile the list? That's my question.
    The list of one hundred things you must know about British/Scottish culture to live there as a foreigner.

    In Holland, we have, among many other useful books on this topic, the Dutch Canon (book with a list of elementary cultural items you should know about in Dutch history and culture), and a wonderful and very concise book about Dutch society and social history, written by two sociologists.

    I'm sure something of the sort must exist about Britain. Anyone's got tips?

    Just to reinvent the wheel. I want to show him I want to help him and write up a list. But I can't do it by myself.. Any suggestions are welcome.

    Think:
    - Cockney rhyming slang
    - Marillion
    - Different cities and their reputations
    - Yes, minister
    - Wordsworth's "I wandered lonely as a cloud"
    - Comics anyone?
    - Where each newspaper stands, politically, and what their reputations are
    - Fawlty Towers
    - Monty Python
    - The museums of London, and in any cities near St Andrews
    - Cricket
    - Golf
    - Runrig
    - Folk songs (Loch Lomond, ..)
    - Haggis
    - The hierarchy of the church of England
    - The history of the Dissolution
    - How to entertain guests properly
    - Salt and vinegar crisps (my favourite)
    - Gardening
    - Shakespeare
    - Lord of the Rings
    - What American English NOT to use in the wrong way when you're in Britain
    - Tea
    - Breakfast
    - The War, and the Great War
    - The Germans, the French

    And so on.

    Anyone cares to add suggestions? Just suggestions, I'm not asking you to do my work, I'll turn it into a useful piece of reading myself.

    It's going to be important for him and his wife. They'll spend at least the next three-four years there.

    Thanks in advance,
    Bert
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    (Original post by Lambertus)
    Ok here's the context.
    Thanks in advance,
    Bert
    Sorry for posting this in the wrong subforum, it's my first visit and my first post here. If there's an admin who can put it in the proper place?
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    Real ale
    The Goons
    Doctor Who
    Sunday roast dinners (called Sunday lunch)
    Taxi drivers who are never happy
    Being hung up about nudity (having been to Spa Zuiver in Amsterdam you could never have the same in the Uk)
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    Words which means totally different things depending on which region you're in tend to be useful to know (e.g. 'dinner' means your evening meal in the south, but means 'lunch' in the north).
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    We have poor customer service

    We love queuing for things for some reason

    Fish and chip shops are just called ‘Chippies’

    When drunk, brits tend to sing with each other…even though we may not know the people we are singing with

    English people don’t like Scottish people, Scottish people don’t like English people

    Welsh people don’t care

    If it’s not Bisto is it even gravy

    Tea

    Fry ups are the cure for hangovers

    Even though we don’t admit it, most of us are pretty patriotic

    We apologise for everything, but inside we are judging every move you make

    ‘Carry on’ films
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    Thanks everyone so far! I've started the work, more input very welcome!
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    Nursery Rhymes

    Fairy tales... although many originated on the Continent :teehee:

    Pork Scratchings

    Poppy Day

    Cambridge

    The Cambridge Boat Race

    Pimms

    ....
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    The scone pronunciation debate
    The bath pronunciation debate
    The bread roll proper name debate


    In other words, debates surrounding regional accents/dialects
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    i like to eat skonns in the barth.
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    (Original post by Lambertus)
    ...........
    As far as books go, there is no single book that delivers all that, but there are various books that offer insights into specific sectors.

    If you are looking for the 'bible' of manners and etiquette then 'Debretts' is the place to go.

    If you are looking to understand what the 'country set' are interested in, then the magazine Country Life is a classic

    There are lots of recent books about English grammar, such as Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

    About the British more generally, try things like Watching the English by Kate Fox, The English by Jeremy Paxman, or for an outsiders view, you might read something by Bill Bryson.

    Cricket - a very strong following in the Netherlands, so the rules will be available and far more intelligible in Dutch.

    Look up the books derived from Radio 4s Poetry Please programme - the 'best of' for a pretty good anthology of the most popular poems that might be referenced in popular culture (tv programme titles etc)
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    Morris dancing!
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    (Original post by Lambertus)
    Sorry for posting this in the wrong subforum, it's my first visit and my first post here. If there's an admin who can put it in the proper place?
    After a bit of thought I've moved the thread to the History forum (in our Debate & Current Affairs section). I did consider others including Chat but I fear you might have attracted less, er, helpful replies.

    Good luck in here!

    (I can move it elsewhere if you prefer... )
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    I know my place:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxpZkKKbDgA
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Good luck in here!
    Why thank you sir.
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    (Original post by Lambertus)
    Why thank you sir.
    :hat2:

    And here's a couple more resources
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/18211612

    Bill Bryson:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Notes-Small...sap_bc?ie=UTF8
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Road-Little...KEWG6FWMNYD3KJ

    And most importantly:


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    British politeness
    Talking about the weather
    Drinking culture (pubs, real ale, binge drinking in town on a Friday night)
    Moaning
    Regional characteristics, stereotypes, cuisines and dialects
    Cultural differences between Scotland and England (& Wales & NI)
    Shakespeare OBVS but also some others e.g. Dylan Thomas, William Blake, Thomas Hardy
    British humour - maybe something more modern than what's in the OP - e.g. The Thick of It, Little Britain, Peep Show, The Office
    Bonfire night
    Beans on toast
    Potato waffles
    Tea, tea, tea - Earl Grey, Yorkshire, Lady Grey, Breakfast - the great debate on how to make a cup of tea (see Orwell's essay on this)
    Ice cream vans
    Council estates
    Brunch



    That's all I can think of off the top of my head.....
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    That obviously explains the Brexit negotiations.
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    Harry Potter
    Tea
    Jane Austen
    Hot Cross Buns
    May Day and it's History
    The Monarchy I guess?
    Guy Fawkes, 5th November etc.
    Any British invasion artist from the 60's up till the 90's e.g Rolling Stones, Cream, The Beatles, Pink Floyd...
    Tbh the whole history of that era is fascinating and very British
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    Everything on Very British Problems twitter
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    (Original post by sduls1)
    Harry Potter
    Tea
    Jane Austen
    Hot Cross Buns
    May Day and it's History
    The Monarchy I guess?
    Guy Fawkes, 5th November etc.
    Any British invasion artist from the 60's up till the 90's e.g Rolling Stones, Cream, The Beatles, Pink Floyd...
    Tbh the whole history of that era is fascinating and very British

    Eh? What is May day? (Other than a day off work)
 
 
 
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