How to be terribly British


In a couple of weeks, everyone in Britain will be taking a day off work to heartily celebrate The Royal Wedding. People in other countries will be celebrating too because the Royal Family is absolutely marvellous.

To get the most out of your day, I’ve prepared a little guide so you can practice being all British before the big day. Splendid.

A quick geography lesson

It’s quite confusing to people who don’t live here to understand what the difference is between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and the British Isles. Get it wrong and you will look quite the fool. But fear not! For I have prepared a geographically inaccurate Venn diagram.

Diagram of the British Isles

Partaking in tea

In Great Britain, we drink a lot of tea; 165 million cups of the stuff a day to be exact. Tea is so important to us that we have a Tea Council. People who work in an office take it in turns to do a “tea round”, and drinking tea is considered a social activity. People from the Tea Council perform regular checks in offices to make sure people are doing their rounds, brewing the tea for long enough, and not buying inferior biscuits.

Afternoon Tea

We have a special time of the day to drink tea, mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner. In Unix time, teatime is at 4pm. A pot of tea is brewed and we get together to drink tea with some scones, a slice of cake or biscuits, and talk about the weather, the price of petrol, the Royal Family, and what was on Coronation Street.


The great milk debate

There is a long and raging war in Great Britain over whether the milk should be added to the mug before or after the water. I put it in first because science says so.

The important thing is to use good quality milk. Not UHT. Yeuck. The tea shouldn’t look too pale, or too dark. I like mine around #DDBB88.

Making a good cuppa

Make sure you get the appropriate tea for your water, such as Yorkshire Tea, which you can get for hard or soft water.

I also recommend warming up the pot/mug first, and using loose leaf tea and a strainer. Only the best china will do. The water must be boiling when it’s poured in, and don’t boil the water more than once or it won’t be well oxygenated.

If you’ve never made a good British cup of tea before, you should watch this charming video by charlieissocoollike on how to make a cup of tea.


@Sazzy has been tweeting a few Britishisms recently under the hashtag #britishisms. Here are some more that you may find handy if you want to sound awfully posh:

Americanism Britishism
Awesome Jolly good
Radical Spiffing
What’s up? How do you do?
Who’s that guy? Who’s that chap?
Nonesense! Poppycock!
Isn’t it cute! Isn’t it quaint!
Really good Frightfully good/Jolly good/Terribly good/Awfully good
Laters, dude Cheerio
Cheers! Chin-chin!
Restroom Loo
Vacation Holiday
Pants Trousers
Underpants Pants
Trash/Garbage Rubbish. Also used to say something is nonsensical. “That chap is talking utter rubbish.”
Sidewalk Pavement
Fries Chips
Chips Crisps
Candy Sweets

If you want to sound exceptionally posh, try adding “what-what?” to the end of random sentences. It’s meant to sound a bit like a duck, so practice saying it very quickly while pinching your nose.

Extra reading

If you follow the rap star 50 cent on Twitter, you should also follow the English translation service, @english50cent, and if you’re planning on visiting for the big day, don’t forget to learn how to walk like a true Brit.

Also, we pronounce “niche” as “neesh”, mobile as “mo-biyal”, and Birmingham is pronounced “Bur-ming-um”. Any place names ending in bourough are pronounced “burrah” (not “burg”), and we like to add extraneous letters to words like “colour” and “through”.

I hope you have a jolly good Royal Wedding celebration, and a spiffing time being awfully British.