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If you want to form a correct opinion of the British character, you don't have to concentrate on big cities, you should better go forth into the country, you'd better visit castles, farm-houses and villages and see the people in all their habits and humours.
For centuries the British have been known as insular, superior, aloof, hypocritical and unsociable. They look at foreigners in general with contempt and think nothing can be done better than in their own country. But ordinary British people are friendly and sociable. There are indeed two nations, they are defined as the rich and the poor. The traditional opinion about the British in earlier centuries was based on the habits of those Britons who could afford to travel, the diplomats and merchants.
Englishmen are rather conservative, they love familiar things. Most of them in the case of heating remain strongly attached to the open coal fire, although it causes much work and adds to the pollution of the air and sometimes pours smoke into the room which it is heating. The landlady of a large house, when she convests some upstairs rooms to serve as living rooms for lodgers, spends much money and trouble in dummy fireplaces, which would never be used. She thinks that a living room without a "fireplace would be a room without the basic characteristic of cosiness, which it is her hospitable duty to supply. They are not misled by romantic delusions.
They are prudent and careful about almost everything. Their lawns are carefully cropped, their flowerbeds are cultivated. Everything is in order. Drinks are carefully measured, seats in the cinemas are carefully assigned (even if the theatre is empty you have to sit in the seat assigned to you), closing hours rigorously observed.
England is the land of clubs, pubs, gardens, football and the left-hand driving.
The British people are the world's greatest tea drinkers. Many of them drink it at least 8 different occasions during the day. They drink it at meals and between meals. They drink early morning tea in bed and some early-morning tea drinkers have automatic tea making machines connected to their alarm clocks.
In England the national drink is «beer» and the pub is the place where Englishmen go to drink it. The word «pub» comes from «public house», which sounds dull and uninteresting. As a rule they have curious names, such as « Drunk -en Ducks» for a very strange reason. One day the ducks of that pub drank some spirit which had leaked from a f arrel, and they fell into a stupor. The good wife thinking them dead, plucked them and was about to cook them when she observed signs of life — one of the plucked birds was wandering drunkenly round the yard.
But no alcoholic drinks may be served to young people under 18.
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