I recently came across this video featuring a very British reaction to a potentially very serious accident.
NB: USE OF PROFANITY IN THIS VIDEO.
Obviously pumped on adrenaline but even so , pretty typical.
This got me thinking about what an odd lot we are. Take the picture of the guy still holding his pint while fleeing the recent terrorist attack in London . It has no doubt been shown around the world as a symbol of Brit stiff upper lip but the reaction here was to laugh and say “don’t blame him with the price of a pint being what it is”.
I remember a woman in the place where I worked having a heart attack, slumped and ashen she didn’t want ‘to make a fuss !’ which was just as well because as the paramedics arrived and jumped out someone shouted “Eh up John how you doing ?”. I then stood open mouthed while ‘ John’ had a conversation with his long lost mate ! But it gets better, the second paramedic was waiting. smiling and enjoying the reunion also.
I was an Optician and I had a chap come with a 10mm piece of copper wire sticking out of his cornea. Needless to say the pain must have been significant, plus he couldn’t see, a right mess. I quickly wrote out an emergency referral and said take this to hospital. He wanted to wait until the morning because he had a ‘footie’ match that afternoon and he was goalie !!! When I looked with astonishment he said, like something from a Monty Python sketch “ well it’s not a very long piece of wire and I’m sure I’ll get used to the stinging “
One of our customers, a lady in her 20’s, a bit the lights are on but nobody’s home, came in looking rather sad to inform us that her Grandad had passed away. “Oh we are sorry to hear that Karen” we said. Back came the reply “It’s alright cos’ Dad says there’ll be more room now”.
In a similar story an employee of mine, who had done a first aid course came across a man lying in the gutter with a gashed cheek. She was literally holding his face together when a finger came towards her from the crowd and a voice said “Ooh I like your brooch where did you get it ?
One of my own personal memories is as a teenager coming home top of the class in a recent exam. I joyfully explained to my parents that not only was I top of the class but everyone else did rubbish. Their reaction wasn’t “congratulations we are proud of you son” No it was “nobody loves a smart arse” and “it’s not nice to blow one’s own trumpet’.
As well as understatement and self deprecation we have a love of dark humour.
A friend of mine was entertaining an important client who was from Germany. After many strait malts he suddenly got very morose and went on an apologetic ramble over his country’s role in the war. After an embarrassing post ramble silence one Brit said “actually you did it twice mate”, quickly shhhhhd, a second said “you had cracking uniforms though” and a third said “cheer up mate, if it wasn’t for your lot we’d never have got to watch ‘A Bridge Too Far !” which all agreed was a classic. Hitler never stood a chance. What army would come up with a dirty schoolboy song for morale.
“Hitler has only got one ball
t’other is int Albert hall.
Himmler is rather similar
and poor Goebbles has no balls at all”
Take the British empire, what other nation could conquer half the world, give it back saying “awfully sorry”, and then persuade the previously colonised countries to join a club of ex-British empire victims called the commonwealth and be happy !
A pretty strange lot.