Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to be a Brit by George Mikes

I think I've found the other Guy Browning. Or perhaps since he came first (I think), Guy Browning is the other George Mikes? At any rate, these two authors make me laugh.

How to be a Brit was an impulse purchase from a bookstore (yes, I paid full price and my wallet scolded me for it) and consists of three works: How to be an Alien, How to be Inimitable and How to be Decadent. Unfortunately, the 'Alien' in the first book isn't about little green man, but the more traditional foreigner (by the way, if you aren't British, than that's you).

Personally, I loved the book, but that's mainly because I love British humour. I used to think that was universal, but after loaning friends my Guy Browning and Terry Pratchett books and receiving them back with a "I didn't think they were funny", I've learnt that I really have to add a disclaimer. So if the following quotes make you laugh, there's a good chance you'll like the book:

"In principle, the British Civil Servant stands always at the disposal of the public. In practice, he is either in 'conference' or out for lunch, or in but having his tea, or just out. Some develop an admirable technique of going out for tea before coming back from lunch." 
"Britain - to its true glory- is the only country in the world where the phrase, 'it isn't fair', still counts as an argument." 
"Other nations need occasional outbursts of madness and violence; the English need occasional excesses of self-discipline. Other nations, under unbearable stress, shout, howl, and get into brawls, run amok; the English queue up for a cup of tea." 

By the way, I do not pretend to claim that this book is accurate about the character of the British people. Although if they really do like queuing half as much as the book says, then it explains a lot about Singaporeans and our love of queueing.

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