I could talk about all the wonderful people I’ve met in England who I’ll miss when I leave, but that wouldn’t be very English, would it? One must control one’s emotions and remain self-deprecating in all social situations, including when blogging.
So here are five of the best THINGS about the UK that have made my time here unique and enjoyable. Who knows, maybe I’ll miss these things so much that I’ll come back?
BBC Radio 4 – the best English-language spoken word radio station in the world? Some people accuse Radio 4 of being too white, middle-class, and biased towards the Home Counties. But nowhere else can you hear John Humphries mercilessly grill Gordon Brown, follow Sandi Toksvig up the Amazon or get advice on which side of the house to plant your camellia bushes. Oh, and every night at 7pm Tom Archer will be worrying about feeding his cows.
Beer – more specifically, ale and bitter, which I learned to love through many visits to venerable Oxford establishments such as The Turf and the Lamb and Flag. People must be truly mad to buy Amstel or Fosters when in Oxford. To drink lager in historic and well-oiled pubs such as these would surely be sacrilege. Bottoms up!
Comedy – Like beer, comedy makes life in Britain tolerable. The best British comedy and humour relies on self-deprecation, wit and a dose of surreal silliness, and there is so much of it to enjoy in the UK. Personal favourites include Peep Show, the ubiquitous Paul Merton, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Private Eye and of course I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.
Choral music – I wrote about the long English tradition of choral singing in a recent post. Even if most English people don’t realise it, English choirs are the envy of the world. Whether you believe the theology behind it or not, sung Evensong must be one of the greatest pieces of English art ever devised.
Sandwich shops – Nowhere else in the world has sandwich shops quite like Britain. I’m not talking about Subway, Greggs or Pret. I mean the little independent shops squeezed into alleyways off high streets, where a husband and wife team (or their Polish assistant) will customise your favourite tuna and sweetcorn sandwich while you wait. Personal favourites include A Patch of Blue in Calne, Wiltshire and the Oxford Sandwich Co in the Covered Markets.