Who are “the British”? How do they live ? What do they believe? What to they enjoy? How do they behave?
The following text, I hope, will answer to these questions, determine and typify the British way of life- the lifestyle of ordinary, as well as extraordinary, Englishmen. And here I have to stop.
Foreigners usually call all British people “English”, but the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh do not consider themselves to be English. So remember once and forever: The British Isles today are shared by two separate and independent countries: the Republic of Ireland, with its capital in Dublin, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland, which contains three different ‘nations’: England, Scotland and Wales. Immediately after the Second World War, Britain looked like a prosperous and friendly country for immigrants, and they were free to enter and look for work, until successive governments have introduced regulations to restrict their number. However, Jews, Russians, Germans, Indians, West Indians, Pakistani, Africans, Arabs and Chinese settled in UK and formed their communities. They still have their own traditional way of life, speak their own dialects – it’s strange, but 22.7 per cent of London schoolchildren at home speak not English, but 173 other languages, including Bengali, Turkish, Chinese. Racial discrimination and poor living conditions have contributed to violence, especially in the day- to-day form of relations between young blacks and the police, inner city riots, which represent not so acceptable style of life. So in this multicultural society it’s even difficult to find a typical Englishman, but let’s try.
“(…) The British are habitually secretive… but how nice they are. By nice I mean ironical, witty, polite and rational and law-abiding (…)” .
A typical Englishman believe in “ Her most excellent Majesty Elizabeth the Second by the grace of God (…) Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”. The Queen is the official Head of State and, for many people, a symbol of unity of the nation. He also believes in Royal Family. Remember, how popular was Princess Diana?
Young people live in Britain
Despite media reports, not all young people in Britain are punks or football hooligans. There is a wide cross-selection of youth from young conservatives to Rastafarians, from skinheads to pupils of private expensive schools. Being independent and free to choose are priorities. Ever since the media discovered the world of the youth, films, TV programmes and the magazines have all been marketed towards them. Since the Pop Revoliution in 1960’s the youth became a rarther separated social group with their own ideas : “flower power” by hippies, the only aim of punks – to die young. However, nowadays young peope in Britain are not so rebellious, much more materialistic. Young, persistent, full of energy city-dwellers are called “yuppies”.
Ages you can legally do things
Leave school 16
Ride a small motorbike
Drive a car 17
Education is compulsory from he age of five to sixteen. Most parents choose to send their children to free state schools, but an increasing number of pupils attend fee- paying independent boarding schools outside the state system, many of which provide accommodation for pupils during term time. But only 45 per cent of them continue with full – time education after 16. What do the rest do? 12 per cent school-leavers are left without jobs , 10 – are full-time employed and 27 per cent join youth training schemes, which provides a living allowance during 2 years of work experience. Unemployment among school leavers is a particular problem, with many facing a bleak future with little hope. But there are young centers and clubs provide the youth with information on a wide range of issues from health problems and leisure problems to training and jobs.
Undergraduate courses normally take 3 years of full- time study, although a number of subjects take longer (it include a year abroad) – medicine, architecture and foreign languages.
The most common type of British family is a nuclear family – parents and perhaps 2 children. There are no “grandmamas” and “grandpapas” to moralize and teach how to live, that’s why just look: Britain has one of the highest divorce rates in Western Europe (approximately one in three marriages ends in divorce), and 23 per cent of babies are born outside marriage. However, the traditional division of family responsibilities still persists: men do repairs, women – washing, ironing, cooking, only washing dishes and disciplining children are equal. Of course, we shouldn’t forget other family members, most commonly dogs and cats. The British are renowned as animal lovers, there’s even a saying :
To sum up, the standart of living rose. More people drive cars, shop in big supermarkets, have bank accounts, the average family moves once every seven year, spend more on leisure activities.
Leisure activities and ways to relax
Favourite pastimes include watching TV (average viewing time – 25 hours a week), reading, do-it-yourself, house repairs, gardening, listening to the music, going for a meal or drink, undertaking voluntary work. The British love reading newspapers – more daily newspapers are sold for every person in Britain than in other developed countries. 70 of them get to know the latest news on Sunday mornings, other 30 read national morning papers. Among the most popular sporting activities walking, swimming, golf (golf courses can be found all over the country), snooker, billiard, pool and darts, while the most popular spectator sport is football. What is more, the British believe in football, and the most supported and cherished club is, of course, Manchester United. And there’s nothing many British people enjoy more than watching a game of cricket on a summer’s afternoon. Gambling is also a popular activity with horse racing being one of the biggest attractions, particularly of famous horse races such as The Grand National or The Derby. Other forms of racing includes dog racing, pub games, casinos, and the weekly football pools where prizes of a million pounds or more can be won. A very small percentage of men and women like visiting art galleries and museums, relaxing in the country or park. All of them prefer pubs, which vary from quiet rural ones with traditional games such as skittles and dominoes, to city pubs ,where different sorts of entertainment such as drama or live music can often be found. British drinking habits have changed, with lager and continental beers now more popular than traditional forms, but all in all the British spend the largest amount of money on drinking out. Particularly increased the amount of alcohol drunk by women. Holidays are the next major leisure cost, followed by eating out, TV, radio, books, magazines and newspapers. The most popular destination for summer holidays is seaside, and no wonder, because all the British people live near the seaside (remember, Britain is an island!). Action holidays, like sailing, are increasing in popularity.
People in Britain have widespread access to the arts, which cover drama, music (mostly pop and rock ), opera, cinema and visual arts. About 650 professional arts festivals take place every year, some of which are celebrations of national culture, including Edinburgh International Festival, the largest of it’s kind in the world. As well as being spectators, many people are keen participants: there are thousands of amateur dramatic societies, an estimated 6 million people take part in dance, making it one of the leading participatory activities.
Folk festivals and dancers draw the crowds. The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance in Staffordshire is thought to be the oldest dance in Europe.