What British people say vs what they mean

Louis Dor
Friday 05 August 2016 15:30
Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

If passive aggression were a national sport then I'd bet you'd know where this is going, wouldn't you?

We're the masters of double-meaning, the unsurpassed champions of the veiled slight.

We also like reading about national stereotypes.

Strap in for a rollercoaster ride my compatriots:

1. "Excuse me."

Unless preceded or followed by another apology, this in no uncertain terms translates as:

Watch where you are going.

2. "How's things?"

I have completely forgotten every detail about your life and I have no in depth questions to ask.

3. "The weather's extraordinary at the moment isn't it?"

Please connect with me on something for goodness' sake. We're British, please just say it's too hot! We can both fill the deafening silence with a chuckle about the stupidity of wearing a jumper to the office.

4. "You should definitely come round for dinner."

I am leaving and have no idea how to end this conversation. Please don't come to my house.

5. (Post 11am) "Would you like a hot drink?"

Order tea or your citizenship will be revoked.

6. "Fine."


7. "Pub?"

Please drown in alcohol with me because it's 5pm on Friday.

8. "I just had a quiet one in, yeah."

I ordered a Chinese, binge watched Peep Show and wept through a bottle of wine at the Big Suze parallels with my own life. I am an emotional black hole today.

9. "Not bad, thanks, how was your weekend?"

And an obligatory collegial greeting to you too.

10. "Who's your friend?"

Either a)

Why are you chatting to that person? I judge you for that atrocity.

Or b)

Please introduce me to that devastatingly perfect human.

11. "Can you show me how to do this, please?"

Your first instructions were completely incomprehensible.

12. "The thing about Arsenal is that they always try and walk it in."

I too have watched the IT Crowd and am using it only slightly ironically to mask how little I care about sport.

13. "Do you want to go to the 20/20?"

I like drinking for three hours and don't understand the rules of cricket.

14. "Which way did you vote in the referendum?"

If it's the way I don't like I'm about to tell you why you're an idiot.

15. "Where do you fancy going?"

I have one place in mind. So do you. Let the politeness games begin. I shall be victorious.

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