Dispatches from the South: Annoying the English Locals

I understand. You’re an Anglophile, you’ve been dreaming of visiting Britain your whole life, now here you are on your first trip abroad, delighted to be in the company of real, live Brits. So why do they seem annoyed with you? Maybe it was something you said. In order to avoid spending most of your vacation on your own, take note of the following ten tips:

Ten Ways to Piss Off the Brits

1. If you want your first conversation with the locals to be your last, tell them they only won The War because the Americans came and bailed them out. This is, without a doubt, the single best way to piss off a Brit, especially one aged 60 plus. The only good that may come out of this is, if you say it to the proper person, you’ll receive a sterling lecture on European history and you just might learn a thing or two, such as the movie “U-571,” wherein the gallant Americans heroically capture a NAZI Enigma machine to help out the British isn’t exactly based on fact.

2. On a lighter note, say “a LUM eh num.” Really, that’s all you need to do to make them cringe. I recommend this, however, because the entertainment value of listening to Brits tying to pronounce it the way Americans do is almost as great as listening to Americans trying to say, “al you MIN ee um.”

3. I know this one is difficult to avoid because I managed it many times myself. It’s involuntary, but really, when they show you any national landmark—Tower Bridge, Stonehenge, the White Cliffs of Dover—resist the urge to say, “I thought it would be bigger.”

4. The British are thrifty people, but they hate a cheapskate, especially where beer is concerned. If you find yourself out with a group of locals you will notice a complex ritual involving the buying of pints. Don’t try to understand it, just be assured that they all know whose round it is and who hasn’t put his hand in his pocket often enough. To avoid being that person, insist on buying rounds often, even if you are out with your American friends. This will make you very popular.

5. Don’t correct their spelling; they are quite fond of it the way it is.

6. Refrain from reminding them that we beat them in the Revolutionary War. That won’t annoy them so much as bore them. Trust me, they don’t care.

7. Never jump a queue. The British live and die by queuing and you cut into one at your peril.

8. Don’t ask them if they have met the Queen; they haven’t…

9. …or Paul McCartney, or Rod Stewart, or JK Rowling.

10. Don’t finish a list when you promise them you are going to.


  1. avatarJo says

    #6 so true, we really dont care ;-) great post by the way, very funny. Thanks for the giggle, i always love reading your excellent (and insightful) posts

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