Weird Stuff The English Instinctively Know
13th June 2016
The news is too depressing to contemplate today. Let’s cheer ourselves up by looking at the secret stuff most British people know without even realising it. Here are the ten I’ve noticed. Feel free to add to the list…
- No matter how badly they did in maths, they can work out the speed and distance of an approaching taxi and when they need to hold out their hand in order to have it stop in time on a wet road and not go flying past.
- They instinctively understand that the staff in pubs operate behind the counter in separate sections ranging right to left, and know where to stand in order to get served quickly while tourists are still looking confusedly at the pumps, trying to work out what Old Speckled Hen is.
- They can give instructions to a place by saying ‘Turn left at the statue of Bomber Harris and right at the Charles II’ not because they have a good sense of geography but because they read ‘1066 and All That’ as children or ‘Horrible Histories’ to their kids.
- While they understand that rain makes you wet, they also know that it will not require you to take shelter or do anything that you had not been planning to do anyway, unless it’s torrential, which will require that you stand under a tobacconist shop awning for 8-10 seconds.
- They can get through the busiest station from booking hall to platform in around 30 seconds using the patented ‘speed chess’ technique of filling any gap and moving forward. They have a built-in gyroscopic ability to remain upright and steady on a hurtling train without needing to hold onto anything and arrive while tourists are still trying to work out why heading from King’s Cross to Euston is classed as ‘North’ and not ‘West’.
- They know that certain questions will merely induce helpless laughter, like asking if a pie is gluten-free, or whether the barman can make a decent martini. They also realise that ordering chips for the table in a pub is nothing to do with nutrition but rather to act as an absorbent tissue for beer. If drinking alone they will most likely be carrying a book.
- It is tacitly understood that no matter how good the service is in a restaurant, one never leaves extra, pointing out that ‘It already says 12.5% on the bill’.
- They only visit the doctor if there are actual signs that they may be dead before nightfall because ‘it’s not a good time for me to be out of the office.’
- They will bravely seek out screenings held in abandoned railway tunnels, food festivals conducted on rooftops and salsa lessons taking place in weird overlit rooms at the back of evening colleges, but will still buy a lunchtime crayfish & rocket sandwich every day at Pret.
- They know that all signs exhorting you to Walk, Stop or Mind Your Step are not aimed at them, and get to their destination via an inbuilt ‘As The Crow Flies’ mental Satnav that involved cutting all corners and crossing roads diagonally.