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Why I Love Britain

Posted: 23/11/2012 00:00

This was the plan: an undergraduate degree in Britain, then head to the other side of the pond for a slice of America. But now it's my last year in the UK, and suddenly I am overwhelmed by a new sensation. For possibly the first time in my life, I don't want to leave. Good people of Britain, I came, I saw, and I fell head over heels in love.

I recently went to a talk given by Bill Bryson, and he spoke about the reasons he loves England. While other people in the room were appreciatively chuckling at his quick wit, I was struck by the truth in his words and was actually quietly weeping into my scarf. I don't think people realise how much I relate to what he was saying. When I went travelling around the UK in the summer after my first year, I happened to be reading Notes on a Small Island. I wonder if it was then that I first properly fell for Britain. Here are some of my own notes on your wonderful island.

I love Britain, because people here call me "love" and "darling", even though we've only just met. At first I thought everyone was flirting with me, and just walked around feeling quite flushed and flattered all the time. Then one day an elderly lady told me to "move the f*** out of my way, love" and it clicked.

I love Britain because you have structured the world according to two unfaltering axioms: tea and the weather. Life is so much easier when come rain or shine, it will probably rain. Best to just sit inside and have a cuppa.

I love Britain because you fill up your pints to the very top. Anywhere else in the world, you ask for a pint and they bring you a glass about 3/4 full. I find this pretty insulting. When I tell this to bartenders outside Britain they tell me to leave, and don't even call me "love" or "darling".

I love Britain because the single best thing to come after a night at the pub with pints filled to the top is a full English. I'm not scientist, so I don't understand exactly what the curing factor is. But I've tried croissants, chow mein, burritos... nothing else comes close. You've absolutely nailed it.

I love Britain because I can do this thing where I sit on a train and listen to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, while looking at the rolling hills of the glorious English countryside, and feel like a ridiculous, but deliriously happy, human being.

I love Britain, because you are literally the most polite nation ever. My dear Britons - when I run into you, or step on your toes, or accidentally spill my drink down your shirt, don't say sorry to me! It makes me feel way too smug and self-righteous about my clumsiness. You're so polite that even your supermarket products seem to want to have pleasant conversations with me. Like the messages on Veg Pots telling me how to recycle a pot into a pen pot - how adorable is that?

I love Britain, because if it wasn't for Harry Potter, I would probably be illiterate.

I love Britain because of your accent. Since I watched my first Hugh Grant movie I have loved the way you sound. Two years later and it's still music to my ears. I still occasionally meet someone named something like Wentworth Archibald, who sounds like the Queen herself taught him to read. When they then talk to me about things like elderflower cordial and walking the dog in the countryside, I resist the urge to undress on the spot, and also thank the heavens for all the American universities that rejected me.

Equally, I love Britain because of the people who don't sound like Wentworth Archibald. My downstairs neighbour from first year is from Lincolnshire. For the first two weeks of university, I didn't understand a thing he said. I'm not even sure how we became friends, given I probably only ever nodded and smiled at him no matter what he said to me. But he has since become one of my best friends, and I have learned just how wonderful it is to be a northerner. I've visited the north many a time, and now can happily say I have more to contribute to conversations about the north than just occasionally mentioning I know where London is.

I love Britain, because since pictures of Kate Middleton have appeared all over the internet, I have found motivation to exercise like never before.

I love Britain, because regardless of your opinions on monarchy, the Queen is pretty damn cute.

I love Britain, because despite being the cradle of the industrial revolution, you resolutely plough on with two taps per sink in the year 2012 - one to boil and one to freeze. As a result of this, I have learned to wash my hand at superhuman speed, and thus saving water as a precious resource for our planet.

I love Britain because you understand sarcasm. I was being sarcastic. Change your taps. They are terrible.

I could go on, for a long time. It's a pretty great island, boys and girls. So maybe I'll stay. I'll conclude with these touching words from Bill Bryson.

"Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realised what it was that I loved about Britain - which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad - Marmite, village fetes, country lanes, people saying 'mustn't grumble' and 'I'm terribly sorry but', people apologising to me when I conk them with a nameless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, stinging nettles, seaside piers, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, hot-water bottles as a necessity, drizzly Sundays - every bit of it...

All of this came to me in the space of a lingering moment. I've said it before and I'll say it again. "I like it here. I like it more than I can tell you."

 

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