Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Jokey-but-serious one-upmanship behind Britain's Brexit talks approach (Subscriber only)
In her classic study, Watching the English, first published in 2004, the anthropologist Kate Fox analysed the bonding rituals of her compatriots. She found that English men (though not English women), bond through what she called "the Mine's Better Than Yours game".

"`Mine', in this context, can be anything: a make of car, a football team, a political party, a holiday destination, a type of beer, a philosophical theory - the subject is of little importance. English men can turn almost any conversation, on any topic, into a Mine's Better Than Yours game. I once listened to a 48-minute Mine's Better Than Yours conversation (yes, I timed it) on the merits of wet-shaving versus electric razors."

Essential to MBTY, Fox found, is "a mutual understanding that the differences of opinion are not to be taken too seriously". To take umbrage and storm off in a huff would be incomprehensible. "The game is all about mock anger, pretend outrage, jokey one-upmanship . . . Earnestness is not allowed; zeal is unmanly; both are un-English and will invite ridicule."

Crucially - and you can see where I'm going with this - "It is also universally understood that there is no way of actually winning the game. No one ever capitulates, or recognises the other's point of view. The participants simply get bored or tired and change the subject, perhaps shaking their heads in pity at their opponents' stupidity."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 12:09:48 AM EST

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Occasional Series