I’ve had a busy day at work, so perhaps I’m a little more touchy than usual but, in all honesty, articles like this do irritate me. It’s a Telegraph review, by Rob Temple, of Rob Temple’s new book, “Very British Problems”, in which he argues that social awkwardness is “quintessentially British”.
As soon as I see the phrase “quintessentially British” used, in any context, I become annoyed, partly because I don’t know what on earth it means (hint: it doesn’t exist at all), but mostly because I don’t think the user ever does either. All I know is that it certainly shouldn’t be used to define a whole nation as being founded on the principles of fuddy-duddy manners, tweed coats and the ability to say “flabbergasted” with a straight face.
By all means, identify comic situations in your own life and share them with others so we can titter sympathetically. But please don’t conclude, simply because others can relate to it, that “feeling you must press the train door button within a millisecond of illumination or be judged an amateur” is all Britishness boils down to. What a waste of time.