On a continental bus approaching a request stop the conductor rings the bell if he wants his bus to go on without stopping; in England you ring the bell if you want the bus to stop. On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners.
On the Continent public orators try to learn to speak fluently and smoothly; in England they take a special course in Oxonian stuttering.
On the Continent learned person love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge; in England only uneducated people show off their knowledge, nobody quotes Latin or Greek authors in the course of a conversation, unless he has never read them.
Continental people are sensitive and touchy; the English take everything with an exquisite sense of humour they are only offended if you tell them that they have no sense of humour.
People on the Continent either tell you the truth or lie; in England they hardly ever lie, but they would not dream of telling you the truth.
Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game.
Lunch at 1 oclock
Many foreigners are sometimes taken aback when they are faced with this typically English custom for the first time.
Whatever one is doing, no matter how important it is, or seems to be a parliamentary debate or any kind of business routine as soon as the clock strikes one everybody breaks for lunch.
The time from one to two oclock is a “sacred” hour in England. And it appears to be not only good for health having meals at regular times is certainly healthy but it is very convenient socially as well. Everybody knows that there is no use trying to get in touch with some official, business executive or firm representative at this time. They wont be in. it is no use no waste your time going from one shop to another at one oclock sharp they will open. For punctuality is also one of the English traditions.
The so called Sunday Observance laws* prohibiting all kind of public entertainment on Sunday date back to the 17-18 century. The idea was to encourage people to go church and not to allow them “to profane the Lords Day” by amusing themselves.
Three hundred years have passed since then. Church services are attended by fewer people now than some decades ago. But the old custom of having a quiet Sunday is still alive. This is another English tradition preserved by law.
On Sunday you may visit a museum or go to a concert but all shops, theatres, dance and music halls are closed. This is rather illogical when compared with the unrestricted variety programmes on radio and television or the fact that one can always go to the bingo-club to enjoy himself or to the cinema to see a “thriller” or the latest American “hit”.
Pubs* and restaurants are open only from 12 to 2, and from 5 to 10 p.m. The police are very strict and do not hesitate to withdraw the licence from the proprietors who disregard closing time.
The trouble with the tea is that originally is was quite a good drink. So a group of the most eminent British scientists put their heads together, and made complicated biological experiments to find a way of spoiling it. To eternal glory of British science their labour bore fruit. They suggested that if you do not drink it clear, or with lemon or rum and sugar, but pour a few drops of cold milk into it, and no sugar at all, the desired object is achieved. Once this refreshing, aromatic, oriental beverage was successfully transformed into colorless and tasteless gargling-water*, it suddenly became the national drink of Great Britain and Ireland still retaining, indeed usurping, the high-sounding title of tea.
There are some occasions when you must not refuse a cup of tea, otherwise you are judged an exotic and barbarous bird without any hope of ever being able to take your place in civilized society.
If you are invited to an English home, at five oclock in the morning you get a cup of tea. It is either brought in by a heartily smiling hostes or an almost malevolently silent maid. When you are disturbed in your sweetest morning sleep you must not say: “Madame (or Mabel), I think you are a cruel, spiteful and malignant person who deserved to be shot.” On the contrary, you have to declare with your best five oclock smile: “Thank you so much. I do adore a cup of early morning tea, especially early in the morning.” If they live you alone with the liquid, you may pour it down the washbasin.
Than you have tea for breakfast; then you have tea at eleven oclock in the morning; then after lunch; then you have tea for tea; then for supper; and again at eleven oclock at night. You mast not refuse any additional cups of tea under the following circumstances: is it is hot; if it is cold; if you are tired; if anybody thinks that you might be tired; if you are nervous; if you are gay; before you go out; if you have just returned home; if you feel like it; if you do not feel like it; if you have had no tea for some time; if you have just had a cup…
In English homes, the fireplace has always been, until recent times, the natural center of interest in a room. People may like to sit at a window on a summer day, but for many months of the year prefer to sit round the fire and watch the dancing flames.
In the Middle Ages the fireplaces in the halls of large castles were very wide. Only wood was burnt, and large logs were carted in from the forests, and supported as they burnt, on metal bars. Such wide fireplaces may still be seen in old inns, and in some of them there are even seats inside the fireplace.
Elizabethan fireplaces often had carved stone or woodwork over the fireplace, reaching to the ceiling. There were sometimes columns on each side of the fireplace. In the 18th century, place was often provided over the fireplace for a painting or mirror.
When coal fires became common, fireplaces became much smaller. Grates were used to hold the coal. Above the fireplace there was usually a shelf on which there was often a clock, and perhaps framed photographs.
Do you know what a pub is? The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines it as a public house or building where people go to drink and to meet their friends. English men like to get together in the pub in the evening. The usual opening hours for pubs are on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. On Sundays pubs may remain open for not more than 5 and a half hours.
Pubs usually have two drinking rooms called bars - the public and the saloon bar, which is more comfortable but more expensive. "Bar" also means the counter at which drinks are served.
Pubs serve alcoholic and other drinks and often light meals. The main drink served in pubs, is, of course, beer, light or dark. Light beer is usually called bitter. As for other kinds of alcohol, most pubs serve whisky, gin and wine. Beer is always sold in pint or half-pint glasses. A pint is equivalent to 0.57 liter No alcoholic drinks may be served to young people under eighteen under British law.
In Great Britain today there are some 80,000 pubs situated in different cities, country towns, villages, and so on. Of London's 5.000 pubs some of the most interesting are right by the River Thames, downstream as well as up. Every English pub has its own sign and name. Some people refer to pub signs as a great open-air portrait gallery, which covers the whole country. But actually this gallery includes far more than portraits.
Some pub signs present different types of transport such as coaches, trams, ships, airplanes and even flying boards. There are signboards depicting animals, birds, fish as well as kings and queens, dukes and lords, sailors, soldiers, fat men and giants. A first class example of an heraldic pub sign is found near Leeds in
Yorkshire at Burley. The Butcher's Arms can be seen in Gloucestershire on a small typical English country pub near Sheepscombe.
At Cheltenham also in the same county you will see a sign showing the head of a horse, the name of the pub being Nags Head. At the village of Slad, also in Gloucestershire you can have a pint of lager in Woolpack and this pub sign shows a horse with two heavy packs of wool slung over it.
In Wales the most attractive sign in a number of pubs share the name of Market Tavern because all of them are on the pubs adjoining the market place.
In London the famous Sherlock Holmes pub with the big portrait of the famous detective smoking his favourite pipe attracts thousands of visitors to Northumberland Avenue.
History, geography, fairytales are kept alive by the name or sign of the "local" (the neighbourhood pub). As history is being made, so the owners of the pubs - usually the brewery companies - and individual publicans are quick to record it by new signs. Typical example is the "Sir Francis Chichester" named after the first man to sail alone around the world.
Not all British pubs have individual signboards, but a considerable effort is being made now to retain old signs. Jerome K. Jerome, the creator of the internationally known book "Three Men In a Boat" over a hundred years ago revealed himself at probably his most authoritative intro matter or pubs. He clearly was a pub man and you can consider his famous book not only a guidebook to the Thames but as the first of those now familiar surveys of recommended places where to sleep, eat and enjoy beer. But in many pubs one can