• 2024.03.28
  • English people in the mirror
I have interviewed a friend, Sarah J., and a colleague, Finn M., and I have asked them the questions:
“What do you think is unique about being English?”
“What do you think are the common prejudices about English people?”
and also “How do you think English people are perceived by foreigners?”
These are the information I have compiled from their answers.

My friend Sarah mentioned that English people are usually perceived as patriotic, monarchic, multi-ethnic, dull, overweight and fashionable.
She thinks it can be true at times but it is definitely a prejudice to generalize about a nationality.
She thinks it is safe to say that most English people are open to the future though while they are also firmly rooted to traditions.
But not only that: she thinks that they are people with unique habits, which often make the rest of the world raise their eyebrows.
They are the only country in the European continent, for example, to drive on the left and to be convinced that it is the only right way to do it.
Despite this, the English seem to be perfectly aware that they are not perfect and that they are a population with their own quirks.
She mentioned that English people can easily identify a person's exact origin just by their accent, in fact, just by listening to someone's accent, they can understand exactly what part of the country they come from.
Since we started speaking about oddities, she also said to me that English barristers are the only ones in the world still wearing wigs, English people are the only ones having carpeted bathrooms (luckily not all of them) and the only people who love queuing.

queuing is key

It sounds like a joke, but it's not, it is true that queues are started for everything in England.
And they also always apologize for everything, even when they're angry and rude, they start and end their sentences with apologies.

My colleague Finn said that perhaps English people are well known for their unique humour.
It is true that English humour is hard to laugh at and it’s very cultural but if Mr. Bean and other characters became famous worldwide it means that it is a humour which works.
English people often say that Italians are hypochondriacs by nature but great was my shock seeing English children go out early in the morning in January wearing just a short skirt or shorts up to their knees and nothing to cover their bare legs.
My colleague thinks that English people are ‘tougher’ when it comes to harsh temperatures or rain, perhaps because the English weather is so ‘moody.’
Something else is that English people always ask you how you are.
Let's put it this way: we Italians are inclined to ask questions only if we really care about the answer, otherwise we avoid it.
For this reason we don't understand (and sometimes we can't stand) the constant repetition of “How are you?” twenty times a day (often several times by the same person) and the “Plans for the weekend?” as soon as Friday comes along.
Nobody cares, so why ask?
English people try to be polite and show they care about others’ plans, that’s all.
Finn also told me that English people seem only reserved at first but they are party people who enjoy a good laugh and they are very faithful when they make friends.
I had noticed that myself, of course, because I know that sometimes alcohol is used ‘to facilitate things’ but they can be true friends when the time comes and the barriers go down.


  • GianFranco Belloli
  • Jobblogger/musician

I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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