It’s time to dip into the search engine questions that lead unsuspecting souls to Notes from the U.K. and see what it is they want to know about this green and pleasant land. The questions are in boldface type and I’ve reproduced them in all their oddity. And because my goal in life is to enlighten the ignorant world, I’ve done my best to provide the information they wanted. Even though the people who asked the questions will never wander back to find the answers. It keeps me occupied and mostly out of trouble.
CULTURE & LANGUAGE
good manners of britain
Yes, Britain has good manners. So do other countries, but no one notices because we’ve all been trained since early childhood to think British manners are good manners and other countries’ manners are rude flaming ignorance. We’ve also been trained to think a British accent is classy and other accents need a bath. This is all rampant bullshit, of course, and a hand-me-down from the British empire, but good luck convincing anyone of it.
When I say “a British accent,” what I really mean is an accent the listener can identify as British, which won’t come anywhere close to the full range of British accents. And when I say “no one” and “we’ve all,” what I really mean is the group of people I happen to be thinking about. I’m not quite silly enough to think I’m talking about everyone.
why do americans say derby instead of ‘darby’
Because that’s how it’s spelled. D e r b y: derby. Americans are naive like that. In spite of all the evidence that points the other way–and, boy, does the English language point the other way–they still think that if a word’s spelled with an E it gets pronounced as if it had an E.
brits think americans are too loud
THEY DO? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME?
swear words england vs american
If you have to look up swear words, they won’t work for you. Swear words are very particular about who they’ll work for. Stick with the vocabulary you understand. It’ll have more impact.
should word anglophile be capitaluzed?
Capitaluzed? No. Some people capitalize it, though. Others don’t. Because I’m retired (I used to be an editor; now I’m just an everyday fussbudget), I’m not going to chase down definitive sources. You’re probably safest capitalizing it, but you could defend either choice.
Which isn’t much of an argument. People defend all kinds of stupidity. That doesn’t make it right.
should all male mps wear a jacket in the commons
Oh, absolutely. Otherwise British politics would degenerate into the kind of farce where people who support staying in the EU throw all their weight behind leaving because it keeps them in power for another twenty minutes; where people argue against a second referendum in the name of democracy; and where amateurs run the government. Heavens to Betsy, we wouldn’t want that.
stockings in the house of commons
It’s not smart to make guesses about anything as improbable as the British parliament, but I’m about to: I’m fairly sure Christmas stockings don’t play much of a role there. The MPs are too old to believe in Santa Claus, although a few still claim to. On top of which, they go home over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so if Santy exists, he has to look for them there.
mps are not allowed to wear armor
This is as shocking as it is true: They are not allowed to wear armor in the House of Commons, and it’s a stain on British democracy.
On the other hand, they (like everyone else in the land) are allowed to wear armor outside the House of Commons. On the train going home, say. At the corner store. It’s heavy, it’s expensive, and they’ll get some odd looks, but I’ve never heard of a law that prevents it.
If search engine questions are a fair representation of what the world’s interested in, the world is obsessed with brussels sprouts. I could turn Notes into the leading (and only) brussels sprouts blog and make a real success of it. Depending, of course, on how we define success.
Here’s a sampling of the brussels sprouts questions.
why do we eat sprouts at christmas
To make sure we’re on Santa’s good list.
why do we have sprouts at christmas bbc
Good question, BBC. The world’s waiting to hear from you on this important topic. Why are you leaving it to amateurs like me to fabricate answers? This is the height of irresponsibility.
the tradition of why we eat spr54otes
The truly traditional Christmas dinner doesn’t involve spr54otes, it involves plain sprouts, of the brussels variety. The 54 was added in recent years as people became aware of how important fiber is to a healthy diet. And the U? It still feels bad about Americans having dropped it from so many words and it’s sitting out this round to make a point about how much it has to contribute.
why do cross a sprout
To get to the other side?
No, people. There is a limit. Never put brussels sprouts in your plum pudding.
|OTHER FOOD & DRINK
what percentage is american beer
That depends on what percentage of what. The world’s beer output?
what do they call brownies in england
why are english roads so narrow / why are english streets so narrow
Because of the houses on either side, some of which were there before cars came along. Also because of the fields. And the hedges, and the stone walls. And because, you know, they’ve been that size for a long time and it works, so why mess with it? And incidentally because they take less space.
Isn’t it odd how people go to another country, full of excitement to see something different, and then judge if by the standards of the place they left. And find it failed to meet them.
why is britain called great britain when it is small
Because it has an inferiority complex and needs to puff itself up as much as possible. We try not to talk about it, okay?
yale door company knob throwing contest
You can find Yale locks in many American doors. And, according to a quick internet search, also in Australian, Indian, New Zealand (New Zealandish?), and British doors. If the company makes doors, as opposed to locks, they’re keeping the information off the internet. But doors have door knobs, and some door knobs have locks in them, and Yale does make those. So we have a connection here.
But the whole thing breaks down after that. The Dorset knob throwing contest isn’t about throwing door knobs, much less whole doors, it’s about throwing a biscuity thing called a knob, which is a bit sweet and, at least as I remember it, too light to throw well, but you shouldn’t take my word on that, you should go and find out for yourself. The next contest is on May 5, 2019.
Leave your door at home. Also your door knob. They’ll provide all the Dorset knobs you need.