I want to say to the British that I see you. I see the Britishness of you.
On my trip to the UK last month, I learned that some Brits are discouraged. I told them how courteous and helpful their fellow citizens were to me and they were surprised – as if they didn’t expect civility any longer. This has really stayed with me and I want to address it.
With riots and terrorist attacks and surveillance cameras everywhere, I can understand this.
It can be difficult to see the full picture amidst news reports that focus on the negative. It can be easy to miss the millions of small acts that contribute to this fine culture. Yes, in my experience, the essence of the British remains. They are resilient and jolly and honourable (spelled in the Queen’s English of course).
It may mean nothing to a Brit when they are called “luv” or “darling” or hear “cheers” as a thank you but to me it is kindness. It’s civilized. It’s not just in the words. It’s in the actions that go with them. There’s a warmth I don’t see in North America.
Pulling my carry-on through the Tube, not having any difficulty with it, I was twice asked by young men if I would like assistance.
On the DLR platform the fellow charged with directing people, not only did so in a pleasant and helpful manner but was entertaining. He had a voice worthy of a Shakespearean actor.
At Gatwick airport at the painful hour of 6:15am, the security personnel were more chatty and pleasant than I’ve ever seen security personnel anywhere. “It’s an early morning flight luv” the man taking my passport said to me with compassion.
Yes, I love the Brits because they are friendly and courteous and helpful and their language, (luv, darling, mate) makes me feel welcome and cared for.
And one more thing. I love the Brits because they walk in the rain. This fact seems the perfect metaphor for British life – whatever rain may fall they are still out enjoying it.