What Aussie ex-pats find annoying about Britain

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This article comes from Aussie IT site www.Brainbox.com.au

I’m British and actually spent most of my life living there. I love my home country and visit it regularly. I’m not an IT worker (as you may have guessed from my Tech-sceptic article) but know that many of you go to Britain to work. I feel it’s only fair to warn you about some of the annoying things you will discover while there.

Xenophobia is rampant

Football isn’t Britain’s national sport, xenophobia is. British people have an obsession with foreigners that’s bordering on pathological. Aussies, Americans, the French and the Germans are particular targets of British love, loathing and ridicule. Pub conversation, television shows and newspapers are rich with tales and theories of outsiders. Travelling Poms are generally disappointed to discover that most foreigners spend more time choosing toothpaste than thinking about the British.

The entire country is one big rip-off

Free enterprise in Britain largely consists of extracting the largest possible amount of money and providing the smallest possible amounts of value and service in return.

Nothing works properly

Nothing in Britain works the way it’s supposed to. From plumbing, to buildings, to the railways, almost everything has some fundamental design flaw. Sometimes I wonder if they’re doing it on purpose. How we ever built an empire is beyond me. The British are well aware of this and complain about it constantly. Britain supports more national newspapers than any other country, largely filled with whining about the state of the nation. Nothing ever changes though. Most Brits would rather whinge than actually do something about their problems. In fact, attempting to solve something is positively dangerous as vicious attacks by the press are certain to follow whatever the outcome. If Brits put half their whining energy into actually fixing problems, they would live in the best run country on Earth.

They think that they, and they alone, won the Second World War

Not really surprising as this is pretty much what we’re taught at school. I was in my late teens when I discovered that countries outside Europe were even involved. If pushed, most Brits will admit that the Americans might have helped a bit at the end, but deep down they suspect the involvement was minor.

The lack of civil liberties

Walk down any street in Britain, and you’re the star of a show called “”We’re watching you so don’t try anything funny””. Almost every public space in the country is under the watchful eye of closed-circuit television cameras. A recent poll estimated that the average person is filmed 300 times a day. Curiously, the Brits find this all very warm and secure rather than intrusive. George Orwell understood his countrymen well.

The hypocrisy

The British regularly accuse others of faults that they themselves are guilty of. They do this without the least hint of irony. I recently read a hilarious (and very serious) article in The Spectator in which the author accuses Australia of abusing civil liberties because he was given a random breath test while here. He also said our Aussie cousins were obsessed with rules. To see why this is so funny, see the section on civil liberties above and the one on closing time below.

The government is useless

Regardless of whether the Tories or Labour are in power, British governments are largely useless. At last count, they extracted 38% of GDP from their citizens (compared to 35% in Australia). God knows where this money goes. Almost everything the government touches turns to garbage. The health service stinks, the roads are clogged, social security is a joke and public transport is poor to non-existent. Don’t be surprised if you walk into a police station to find it devoid of policemen. British government departments have more in common with those in India than the well-oiled affairs you find in Australia. At least in Italy you know your taxes are being stolen by corrupt officials; in Britain they just seem to vanish.

Closing time

Almost all English pubs are required, by law, to stop serving at 11pm. They kick you out all together at 11.20 on the dot. Most new arrivals are vaguely aware of this, but thought it had been ended in the 60s. The government talks about changing the law sometimes, but never does. Communist China has more liberal licensing laws.

The population thinks they’re superior to that of any other country

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the British believe they’re superior to any other people on Earth. They think they’re smarter, better at sport, more stylish and more cultured. Their dad could definitely beat yours in a fight. This superiority doesn’t have to be earned or proven, it is their right by birth. Australians with a high-school education or better may be tempted to prove them wrong on the smarter front. Personally I think it’s cruel: a little like proving to a child that Santa doesn’t really exist.

Darren Samson

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