No. 7: Tea

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Image credit: The Littlest Hobo Blog

“Tea isn’t merely a drink. It’s a way of life. It’s the panacea that fixes all curses and cures all wounds. It’s the first thing Brits turn to in the morning and the last thing they prepare at night. Tea is a balm for the soul, a rallying spot for friends, a punctuation point for the day, and, let’s not forget, a nice hot beverage that you can serve with milk and/or sugar.”

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No. 8: Weird Traditions

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The annual Gurning World Championship, Cumbria, UK. Photo credit: Pinterest.

“As the natural world ticks along its endless cycle of birth, growth, and death, there is much to celebrate, much to commemorate, and much to be superstitious about. The Brits have had a long time to work up their own unique reactions to these moments, and their customs and traditions can loosely be split into two subjective categories: those I grew up with and understand (and are therefore Not Weird) and those I do not recognize and do not understand (and are therefore Weird). Of course, if you’re not from around here, they’re all weird.”

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No. 14: Talking About the Weather

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Photo credit: Enrico Natali / Art Blart

“Time to dig out the British cure for all awkwardness: a quick chat about the weather. This is one of the most commonly observed quirks of British social interaction; from Land’s End upward, the British are world renowned for striking up conversations that, to external ears, sound worryingly like banal observations about temperature and rainfall. They know this about themselves too and yet, in the absence of a better option, seem powerless to hold back. Where two British people are gathered together, there will be some talk about the weather.”

Back catalogue: Anglophenia: Iconic British Things No. 9: Talking About The Weather

Anglophenia: How To Discuss the Weather Like a Brit

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No. 15: Marmite

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Photo credit: The Telegraph

“Marmite is perhaps the most contentious item in this entire book, or at least that’s what its marketing department would have everyone believe. The company has been running commercials for years claiming that people either love or hate its product, a breakfast spread that looks like boot polish and tastes like burned meat, and since then Brits have taken to labeling all manner of things that polarize opinion as ‘a bit Marmite.'”

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No. 29: Phone Boxes

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“Stand on a roadside in London and you’d be forgiven for thinking every object that provides a valuable public service has been painted an identical shade of red, so that Londoners can be on a constant state of alert as to where they are and what dangers may be present. These include: postboxes, double-decker buses, Royal Mail delivery vans, and fire engines, but the most iconic of all are red phone boxes.”

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No. 31: Keep Calm and Carry On

 Photo credit: The History Blog

“In spring of 1939, a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War, the British government commissioned a special poster, knowing that dark times were ahead. The slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” appeared in white on a regal red background, set in a specially commissioned typeface to prevent forgery and with a Tudor crown above. The intention was to put the posters up in areas where German bombers would do the most damage, in order to encourage the population not to lose heart. But despite printing around two and a half million copies, the British government kept them in storage, caught between a concern that the slogan would be taken as patronizing — or even frustratingly obvious — and waiting for a moment of sufficiently dire need, such as a full invasion. This never transpired, and so the posters were eventually destroyed, apart from a few exceptions.”

Back catalogue: Anglophenia: Iconic British Things No. 8: A Brief History Of Keep Calm And Carry On

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