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The truth about being British

by RogueTrooper Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:08:08 PM EST

This was sent to me in an email. Apparently it was a submission, from a Swiss gentleman, to a British newspaper regarding the question: what it means to be British?

"Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for A Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign."

Hah! Hah!

And let me be quintessentially French and complain that, again, this is a dig against the French as we are not even mentioned. It's an obvious plot, and typically British!


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:15:13 PM EST
Why do you complain? As Jack Straw said, Britain is an old European country, founded in 1066 by the French...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:16:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually by the Vikings...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Er... Last time I looked the Saint Clerc sur Epte treaty got those "vikings" as French (Rollon in 912 AD) so in 1066, William (or Guillaume le bâtard) was duke of Normandy, not Viking !

But then in 1337 started the 116 years war with the "perfide Albion" :-)
It finished really with the "entente cordiale" (8 april 1904) that is still believed to go on (maybe someone should say a word to Blair about it ?)... :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 06:12:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, do you know where Richard Lionheart died?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 06:33:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shot in Chalus,Aquitaine,1199, buried in Anjou... At the Fontevraud Abbey...

So, with Merlin and maybe King Arthur, that makes some of the great English icons buried in France... :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 01:48:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He died at Chinon Castle, which was the preferred seat of Plantagenet kings - the same castle where two centuries later, the Dauphin would receive Jeanne d'Arc.

(I learned this when I visited the castle. To counter the French geography illiteracy anecdotes in another thread, I note that the ticket seller at Chinon greeted us in Hungarian - she learnt the words at an exhibition of Hungarian painters at another castle nearby.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 04:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Richard was showing off by riding up and down beneath the castle walls when, not unreasonably, a defender shot him with a crossbow. It was considered to be bad form in those days to shoot a king when he was showing off (especially if you were not an aristocrat) so the poor man was dragged before the dying king. Whereupon Richard forgave him. Although it didn't do him any good, as soon as the King died he was executed on the spot. Ah, the days of chivalry!.
by Taffywasawelshman on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 12:17:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The great English what buried in France? (I hope the "i" is not a typo...) ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 08:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it was always about the 'cons' wasn't it? Paleocons, Neocons... ahhh feels good talking 'bout dead cons.
by Euroliberal on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 12:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
William the Bastard was not French but Norman - ie from the families of "Norsemen" who took over various parts of more southerly Europe from Britain(Brittany/Bretagne) round the Iberian peninsular to Sicily. Great Britain is called that to distinguish it from what is now part of France.

BTW, Be careful about insulting other people's cuisine, after all Chirac did that- putting Britain in second worst place behind Finland - and it cost Paris the Olympics in 2012. Those three Finnish votes proved decisive.

by Londonbear on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 11:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
William the Conqueror and his band of continental thugs, did not found England. They made a hostile takeover of Greater Wessex Inc. (fighting Vikings with varying success for two centuries) and replaced the Godwinson brothers as its management.

More seriously the Anglo Saxons considered themselves essentialy one people, evem when they were split into many Kingdoms.

The seven Anglo Saxon Kingdoms were consolidated into one by the 10th century. The combination of agressive expansion by the southern and south-western Kingdom of Wessex combined with the Viking attacks on the northern realms of Northumbria and Mercia, left only one Anglo-Saxon monarch standing.

"After Egbert defeated Mercia in 825 and the Northumbrians accepted his overlordship in 829 Egbert became the first King of England".


The Anglo-Saxon English state was one of, if not the, most administratively advanced countries in 11th century western Europe. I would put it down to King Alfred the Great (the only English King accorded that honorific).

Either Alfred was good or he was really clever at getting on well with the monks, who wrote the source documents for the period and started the Anglo Saxon Chronicles at the Kings command.

by Gary J on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 07:16:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read somewhere recently that the Anglo-Saxon landtaking wasn't that a simple matter either - that is, today's Englishmen do have Celtic blood, too. I also wonder about this one:

More seriously the Anglo Saxons considered themselves essentialy one people, evem when they were split into many Kingdoms.

What does this mean and what is the evidence for it? I mean, is this a statement about the people, the aristocracy, the kings and their scribes? And is it based on contemporary evidence, or history written for kings who conquered the other kingdoms? Also, did the three tribal identities (Angles, Saxons, and the often forgotten Jutes) disappear fast?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 03:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the Romans conquered Britain the inhabitants were a Celtic people.
Roman Britain was attacked by Saxon pirates. The Romans built a chain of formidable Saxon Shore Forts to defend the island.
After the Roman legions were withdrawn from Britain in the early 5th century the Romano-British were left to defend themselves. Vortigern, the Romano-British ruler of Kent, adopted the common Roman tactic of hiring one group of barbarians to fight off others.
Enter Hengist and his Jutes. Vortigern then made the mistake of not paying the mercenaries so they took over the region. This example encouraged other groups from southern Denmark and northern Germany to move to Britain and take over what became England.
No doubt many of the pre-existing celtic population stayed where they were. I think it is a matter of dispute how many people came from the European mainland. See the discussion of the historical evidence and genetic studies in the Wikipedia article on the Anglo Saxons. Whatever the exact composition of the population the Angles, Saxons and their subjects came to be called Anglo-Saxons.
"The term "Anglo-Saxon" is from Latin writings going back to the time of King Alfred the Great, who seems to have frequently used the title rex Anglorum Saxonum or rex Angul-Saxonum.
The origin of this title is not quite clear. It is generally believed to have arisen from the union of six of the seven kingdoms of the Heptarchy under Alfred in 886.
Other early writers do not bear out consistent distinctions, though in custom the Kingdom of Kent presents the most remarkable contrasts with the other kingdoms. West Saxon writers regularly speak of their own nation as a part of the Angelcyn and of their language as Englisc, while the West Saxon royal family claimed to be of the same stock as that of Bernicia in the north. On the other hand, it is by no means impossible that the distinction drawn by Bede was based solely on the names Essex (East Seaxan), East Anglia, &c.
We need not doubt that the Angles and the Saxons were different nations originally; but from the evidence it seems likely that they had practically coalesced in very early times, perhaps even before their invasion of Great Britain. At all events the term Angli Saxones seems to have first come into use by Latin writers on the continent, nearly a century before Alfred's time, in the writings of Paul the Deacon, historian of the Lombards. There can be little doubt, however, that there it was used to distinguish the Teutonic inhabitants of Great Britain from the Old Saxons of the continent".
To some extent this may be propaganda by the ruling elite of Wessex, as part of their campaign to absorb the other Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms. However there are other sources which suggest the different Anglo Saxon Kingdoms were seen as linked.
The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms did have cross border links. A powerful King could become Bretwalda, which Wikipedia translates as overlord. The Venerable Bede, writing in Latin, refers to Kings holding imperium.
The evidence is scanty, but I believe it supports my generalization that the Anglo Saxons saw themselves as one people.
by Gary J on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 05:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell that to Huntington...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 05:51:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anglo Saxons - Just a bunch of German upstarts!
by Taffywasawelshman on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 12:08:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You only need to add:

reads an Australian-owned newspaper that bashes the French
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:38:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, you may attribute the ommission to their, how shall we say this, lack of cultivation...  


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 02:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being British is about driving in a French car ( Renault of Ctiroen ) to restuarant to edible ( thank you France ) food ( preferably French ), the food washed down with a nice French wine or some nice French Beer ( Stella or Kronenberg ), then travelling home, where you and your date cuddle up on a chaise long to watch a French movie ( Amelie because you want to impress her with your quirky sensitivity ). If she is impressed you might get a French kiss; If she is really impressed ( and also likes the French aftershave you are wearing ) you might need a French letter.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 09:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being British is about saying "sorry" when someone bumps into you. Being French is about not saying "sorry" when you bump into someone.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 04:41:30 PM EST
This is dreadful, I do both.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 08:44:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Famous British quote: "it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery (pronounced: mystereh), inside an enigma". (W Churchill)

Famous French quote: "a citizen is a pedestrian of the Republic" (JP Raffarin)

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 05:18:27 PM EST
I got this email:

"They say that European heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the chefs Italian, the mechanics are German and it's all run by the Swiss.  European hell is where the mechanics are French, the lovers Swiss, the police are German, the chefs are British and it's all run by the Italians!"

I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 03:01:17 AM EST

This is a fine joke, but let it be noted that the German police of today is rather different from the never-to-die Prussian stereotype, they in fact are closer to the British policeman stereotype. Very polite and professional. (At least in my experience.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 04:08:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I always tell my American friends who ask me how do I find the French: "go to London and turn right."
by Lupin on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 06:04:42 AM EST
paying the bill of your holiday to Spain using arabic numbers and an hindu software while you take a good cup of Colombian coffee with cacao from Cote d'Ivory after two days in bed using israely anthibiotics and Morroco tomato juice...two days really boring  exccept for the great football game you watched the Brazilian Ronaldinho play...defeating a French team :)

and of course... still some people hate foreginers

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Dec 16th, 2005 at 07:48:50 AM EST

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