The image most people have of London is one that’s constructed by newspapers, glossy magazines and tv shows. It’s always been that way: portrayed as a place of great wealth and fortune. Long before the American dream emerged, it was the fantastical vision of London, the city where the streets were paved with gold, that served as the main icon of aspiration. It was said that everyone from to boot-shines to escorts to merchant traders could make their fame and fortune in the capital’s shadow. When many arrived, they found that even in a city of plenty, there will always be hierarchies. They were left rooted to the bottom, a dark side that never seemed to get mentioned in the fantastical tales of fame and wealth.
Many still have this skewed view of the capital but other myths have sprung up about since then. A classic one corresponds with the American view of the “Brit”. To them, the British live in London, drink copious amounts of tea, wear bowler hats and formal clothing at all times (monocles are encouraged), speak in a curious dialect, lack dental hygiene and have many strange characteristics. There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to start. Just as all Americans are not gun toting, obese rednecks with brains the size of peas, all British people are not this tired and rather boring stereotype.
One of those attributes is perhaps true. When it comes to tea, the British have a love affair that can rival continental Europe’s obsession with freshly brewed coffee. It seems to be ingrained into the national psyche as a safeguard against all the evils of the world. Whenever anything goes wrong, the British response is to put the kettle on. Everyone, from beautiful Sutton escorts to the highest politician in parliament, turns towards the curious infusion in times of need.
Everything else is largely false though. You won’t be ejected from an establishment for not wearing a three piece suit, nor does the typical Brits wardrobe consist primarily of bow ties, bland white shirts and dress trousers. Nor does every British person live in London. That’s surely self contradictory: the British isles don’t just consist of one city. A few references have been made to cities like Manchester and Liverpool in recent times, but that seems to be mainly mocking or as a begrudging response to their rather popular football clubs.
As for the British accent, it doesn’t exist! It’s rather ridiculous to see it referred to as that, seeing as how Britain consists of 4 countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of those has their own distinctive accents, so what people refer to as a British accent is infact an English accent. Even then, England is a rather large place. The accent of a scouse beauty is completely different from that of Sutton escorts. What people mean when they say British doesn’t even reflect any of these regional lilts. It’s a curious mix of the Queen’s English- which is the posh sounding one- interspersed with random cockney words used only by those playing a geezer in terrible tv shows and Victorian street urchins. The kind of person that carefully enunciates their vowels is not going to say things like guv’nor.
The dental hygiene of the British is actually outstanding. According to Americans, even those considered beautiful in Britain have a set of yellowing teeth, riddled with cavities and problems. Again, this is contradictory; if one cares to scratch beneath the surface they may wonder why a nation with comprehensive national healthcare would be so be troubled by these sorts of problems. The accusations are particularly odd considering that Americans have, on average, one of the most sugar filled diets in the world and have a privatised healthcare system.
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