After three years of living in the US, I've heard plenty about Americans' loooove of Harry Potter and my sexy accent. But certain asinine questions and themes frequently crop up in our transatlantic exchanges. In order to educate you on all things Blighty, and to get you to stop asking me what the Queen does, I've compiled this list of all the dumb stuff Brits hear when they leave the UK.
Here's a field guide to everything you need to avoid saying to any of your British mates.
1. “Is that a British accent?”
Why yes, it IS a British accent. Well done on successfully identifying it. Now what to do about it?
2. "G'Day, mate!"
This is Australian. Take this, "bloke," and any other slang term of uncertain origin and tuck them safely away in your otherwise-empty head.
3. “Say something British!”
Oh, sure. Let me drop everything and do a song and dance. "Allo guvnor, 'ow do you do? Can I interest you in some Marmite crisps? Grand, innit?" Because all my friends and family speak like that. You should totally do this too the next time you visit London. Everyone will think you're hilarious.
3. “Is that near London?”
Believe it or not, a lot of places in the UK aren’t in London. Like Stonehenge, Brighton, and Bath (yes, that’s a real place). And for the last time, no, Buckingham is NOT in London; it’s nearly a two-hour drive away. Buckingham Palace is in London, though.
4. “Your accent is SO cute.”
OK, I don’t mind this one, but, please, stop saying it when I’m in a rush. When I ask where the loo is, I want to pee, not discuss how pleasant I sound. It's not some trendy accessory. I don’t wake up in the morning and open my magic accent drawer and pick one out as the mood strikes me. “Hmmm, today I think I’ll wear my Peruvian accent with this skirt.”
5. “My third cousin twice-removed lives in England! I forget where... but maybe you know them.”
Yeah, actually if you just show me her Facebook photo, I could tell you exactly where she lives. Like, the street and everything. As it happens, I’m familiar with the entire American expat community in the UK. It's a small world!
6.“What did they teach you about WWII in England?”
Oh, not a lot... my history teacher just made the class watch the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. What did they teach you about manners in the US?
7. “If it wasn’t for us, you’d be speaking German right now.”
Well, that’s not entirely true. But for the record, you wouldn't be speaking English if it weren't for us. How about we just avoid WWII talk?
8. “Where in Australia are you from?”
At this point, I won’t even bother to correct you. Now bugger off.
9. “Oh, I'll just make tea in the microwave."
You Americans really are lazy. Skip the taxing task of pressing buttons and just throw that slag down the sink, would you? Because that’s exactly where it’ll end up if you try to serve me a cup of microwaved rubbish you have here.
10. "Are there double-decker buses everywhere in London?"
Are there yellow taxis everywhere in New York?
11. “Do you watch 'Doctor Who'/'Downton Abbey'/[insert other British show here]?"
Yes, I'm British, therefore I've watched every BBC series before you and know it by heart. But wait, I'm dying to know -- did you watch the last episode of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians"? That defines America, right?
12. “Are you Irish?”
No. How could you possibly get those accents confused? Not that there's anything wrong with the Irish. I'm also frequently asked if English people hate the Irish, FWIW.
13. "What did you do for Will and Kate's wedding?"
The whole village had a big viewing party. The streets were lined with Union Jack bunting. The girls dressed up as Kate and Pippa, the boys as William and Harry. There was much bottom-pinching. And there were tea and crumpets for days.
14. “Oh my god, you’re like Hermione Grangerrr!”
There are worse things in the world than being compared to a (mildly annoying) character played by Emma Watson. In real life, Emma Watson is awesome. But if I had a pound for every time someone's asked me to say "Wingardium Leviosa" I'd be... well, I'd have a couple quid on me. And no feathers.
15. “What's it like to meet the Queen?”
While the UK is small, it’s not that small. Queen Lizzy doesn’t have time to meet all 64.1 million of us. I did meet Prince Charles once, though.
16. “But what does the Queen actually do?”
As well as being the UK's no. 1 recipient of corgis and flowers, the Queen is the Head of the Armed Forces, Fount of Justice. But she doesn't actually rule the country; she has a more "symbolic role" in the justice system, and does a lot of ceremonial stuff like knighting the Richard Bransons and Judi Denches of the world. She also gives a speech on the telly at Christmas. She's like a more important, less funny Betty White.
17. "Wot do you fink of me accent?"
Here's the truth: Remember Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins? It's like that... but you sound way dumber.
18. "Doesn't it rain all the time there?"
Alright, British weather isn't the best. And yes, on rainy days, walking down the road is more like wading through a sea of umbrellas. But it's not constantly miserable; the UK gets all kinds of weather: there's cumulus, stratocumulus, and cumulonimbus... OK, those are types of clouds. But honestly, it's not so bad. Besides, you've still got Seattle and Buffalo, and everything north of the Mason-Dixon line where winter lasts six months.
19. “Wait, so is it England or the UK? I don’t get the difference.”
England is IN the UK (United Kingdom, and if you didn't know that, lord help us), which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. You might want to crack open a geography book every now and then. Or look into this thing called Google.
20. “Do they have Halloween in England?”
No, actually. I didn't know what trick or treating was until I moved here. We also don’t have Christmas or Easter. And the month of May doesn’t exist. But we do have unicorns year-round. It's amazing.
21. "How do you feel about Zayn leaving One Direction?"
I'm fine. But how are YOU holding up?
22. "You watch soccer, right? Arsenal or Chelsea?"
First off, it's football. And second, just because I'm from London doesn't mean I support one of the two London teams you happen to know the names of. Actually, I support Manchester United. Again, there are things outside London. Shocking, I know.
23. “So what do they think of Obama over in the UK?”
Well, because I can speak on behalf of everyone in the UK, I'm TOTALLY qualified to say that everyone in the UK thinks he's splendid. No one understands what Congress does, other than disagree with your President, however.
24. "Do they listen to the Beatles a lot in England?"
Who...? Never heard of them.
Just kidding!! Of course everyone listens to the Beatles. In fact, we have an entire radio station that's dedicated to playing the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Except on Sundays, when they play One Direction.
25. “You Brits apologize too much.”
If apologizing were an Olympic sport, the British would have all the gold medals. I'll admit, it's annoying, and since I've moved here, I've tried not to apologize as much. But it's really just another way to say "pardon," "excuse me," or "what did you say?" And sometimes, of course, it just means sorry.