Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Five Most Annoying Things about the British

Once upon a time, the first foreign leader that the newly elected President of the United States met with was the Prime Minister of Canada. President (sic) Trump today welcomed the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who only inherited the job when the elected Prime Minister resigned, and who half the British population probably wouldn’t recognize if she slapped them in the face. In honour of this snub of Canada, I have compiled a list of the 5 most annoying things about the British.

1.       You have to buy a licence in order to watch television in Britain.

That is not a joke or an alternative fact. I’m not talking about the cost of cable, satellite, or Pay-per-View. I mean that if you want to own a television, stick some rabbit ears into the top of it, plug it in, and watch TV, you need to buy a licence. This isn’t just some nominal fee either; a TV licence in the UK costs 145 pounds, which is about $240 Canadian. They actually put a lot of effort into enforcing this law have inspectors and TV detection vans that drive around neighbourhoods looking for TV signals in houses that don’t have licences. What kind of Orwellian dystopia is that?  

2.       85% of British people are drunken soccer hooligans.   

I did graduate studies in Leeds, and before I went there I had a picture of British people as highly educated, cultured, and well-mannered with a slight touch of pomposity and misplaced arrogance. This was based on my interactions with British ex-pats while studying in Spain and Russia. It turns out that only about 15% of Brits and the snobby intellectuals, and those studying at foreign universities are disproportionately from this group. The other 85% are binge drinking hooligans.

 I come from Newfoundland, where the people have a reputation for enjoying a few drinks. Before leaving for England I had spent plenty of time at most of the bars on George Street, the Majestic, and even the Top Hat in Manuels, and I thought I knew what excessive drinking was. Then I went to Leeds. You couldn’t go to a McDonalds after 7pm on Wednesday without seeing some Brit staggering or falling over drunk on the ground. They literally have private “drinking clubs” over there.

3.       They drive on the wrong side of the road

Civilized people drive on the right side of the road. The British drive on the left side of the road because they are disagreeable by nature and believe that if they do the opposite of what the rest of Europe or North America does it somehow makes them superior. In fact, all this does is make it more expensive for them to buy a car since there are vastly fewer options for buying cars with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car. If they would just drive on the correct side of the road they could buy a one way ticket to Spain, have a nice holiday, then buy a cheap car and drive it home just like Canadians do in Florida.   

4.       They are ridiculously elitist

British people often look down on Americans as uncultured, racist hicks. They view themselves as a progressive, multicultural, and cosmopolitan place. The United States, though it has its share of racists and uncultured people, just had black (technically half black, but still) President, and before that, it had a black secretary of state. Next time you see a British delegation take a look and tell me how many people aren’t white. Don’t be fooled though. It isn’t a question of race; it’s one of class. The people who lead the United Kingdom not only go to the same universities (Cambridge or Oxford), they almost all went to the same grade school, Eton, a ridiculously expensive private school. Just try to imagine if virtually every Prime Minister of Canada went to the same junior high school. The UK is an old country run by old money. 

5.       They can’t speak proper English

I’m not sure what the most annoying English words and phrases are; there are just so many to choose from. The way they put the stress on the wrong syllable for GA-rage and Con-TRO-versy are at the top of the list. Saying “lorry” instead of truck in another aggravating one, though nothing can compare to “tea-time”. British people drink tea from morning till night, yet they for some reason decided to substitute lunch (or supper, I’m never exactly sure), with “tea time”. In fact, many Brits just say “Tea”. God that’s so annoying. Two thirds of the country are having beer with their lunch anyway.

What in God’s Name Happened to Rex Murphy?

Rex Murphy is a national treasure. I’ve loved him for decades. I’ve been reading and watching his columns and commentaries my entire adult life. No living (Mordecai Richler is sadly no longer with us) Canadian writer or commentator can match his unique combination of eloquence, intelligence, and wit. Though he has never been a partisan commentator, his views have generally been right of center, and he has always been a strident opponent of political correctness. In recent years it seems as if he has been drifting a little more to the right, particularly with his increasingly vocal skepticism of threat of climate change.

I assumed that his climate change skepticism was less about climate change and more about an aversion to what he perceived was overzealousness and hysteria on the part of the most fervent environmentalists. I always assumed he was the same old Rex, the brilliant man who remained an independent thinker no matter the prevailing opinions of the day. Then I watched the worst inaugural address in the history of the United States. Then I read Rex Murphy’s more or less positive review of it in the National Post.

I’ve often looked at Rex Murphy as a wittier, less politically ideological version of George Will, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. Mr. Will is an openly conservative commentator and a decades-long supporter of the Republican Party. Shortly after the inaugural address, the conservative Mr. Will wrote a column in the Washington Post titled “A Most Dreadful Inaugural Address”. As you might guess from the title, the column was scathing, no more so than when he wrote “Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.” He also wrote that Mr. Trump “vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric”. By contrast, Mr. Murphy wrote that Mr. Trump’s address “amounted to a noble, though forgotten, truism. The purpose of a government is to serve the people of that country whose government it is”.

There are some things to admire about Donald Trump. I can see why some people find his candor and off the cuff style refreshing. In an era when politicians have staffers sending out bland tweets and press releases on their behalf, I get why some people kind of like a politician who thinks nothing of ripping on Saturday Night Live or Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe speech in the middle of the night. I think Mr. Trump could probably make a great mayor or even governor, but the idea of him being in command of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal should be frightening to all intelligent people no matter their political persuasion. He literally said that protection is the key to prosperity. Every respected economist in the world will tell you that protectionism is actually a recipe for global financial disaster. I understand why Rex Murphy would admire some things about President Trump, but I am shocked that he is not at least a little concerned about some of the havoc that the newly elected President can wreak on the world.