British Exceptionalism

Sunday, September 8, 2019 – British Exceptionalism

The British are supposed to be particularly averse to intellectuals, a prejudice closely bound up with their dislike of foreigners. Indeed, one important source of this Anglo-Saxon distaste for highbrows and eggheads was the French revolution, which was seen as an attempt to reconstruct society on the basis of abstract rational principles. ~ Terry Eagleton

It’s certainly true that I was brought up in that British amateur tradition, the one which always held that if you were reasonably good at cricket, knew one or two Latin texts and a few zingy Oscar Wilde quotes for dinner parties, you were pretty much ready to go and run some outpost in Hindustan. ~ Damian Lewis

If the truth be told, we are a society that is dripping in racism. This is not in the least surprising. For the best part of two centuries, we British ruled the waves, controlled two-fifths of the planet, and believed it was our responsibility to bring civilization to those who allegedly lacked it. ~ Martin Jacques

Why should we not form a secret society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for making the Anglo Saxon race but one Empire? What a dream, but yet it is probable; it is possible. ~ Cecil Rhodes

In the end it may well be that Britain will be honored by historians more for the way she disposed of an empire than for the way in which she acquired it. ~ Lord Harlech

There’s a particularly British wariness of appearing to try too hard. It’s somehow distasteful. Everything should come to us seamlessly and, if you have to work at it, you’re somehow a loser. ~ Kate Reardon

I get nostalgic for British negativity. There is an inherent hope and positive drive to New Yorkers. When you go back to Britain, everybody is just running everything down. It’s like whatever the opposite of a hug is. ~ John Oliver

I’m British. Pessimism is my wheelhouse. ~ John Oliver

The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst. ~ Winston Churchill

The British do not expect happiness. I had the impression, all the time that I lived there, that they do not want to be happy; they want to be right. ~ Quentin Crisp

I think what is British about me is my feelings and awareness of others and their situations. English people are always known to be well mannered and cold but we are not cold – we don’t interfere in your situation. If we are heartbroken, we don’t scream in your face with tears – we go home and cry on our own. ~ Michael Caine

His face was the sort of British face from which emotion has been so carefully banished that a foreigner is apt to think the wearer of the face incapable of any sort of feeling; the kind of face which, if it has any expression at all, expresses principally the resolution to go through the world decorously, without intruding upon or annoying anyone. ~ Edward Lucas White

The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner. ~ Margaret Halsey

The Brit abroad is always the voice of caution. Persons of other cultures are known to be undisciplined, prone to leaning out of car windows and cooking with garlic. ~ Nick Harkaway, Tigerman

I think Americans still can’t help but respond to the natural authority of this voice. Deep down, they long to be told what to do by a British accent. That’s why so many infomercials have British people. ~ John Oliver

I love British cursing – the cadence of it, the joy in the sound of the words, and the vulgarity of it. ~ Christopher Moore

The British have a remarkable talent for keeping calm, even when there is no crisis. ~ Franklin P. Jones

The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm. ~ Alexander Woollcott

The British are the only people in history crass enough to have made revolutionaries out of Americans. ~ Shashi Tharoor

America: It’s like Britain, only with buttons. ~ Ringo Starr

Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain Britain. So conform to it, or don’t come here. ~ Tony Blair

The British have always been madly overambitious, and from one angle it can seem like bravery, but from another it looks suspiciously like a lack of foresight. ~ Ben Aaronovitch, Whispers Under Ground

The English are not a very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity. ~ George Bernard Shaw

The reason why Englishmen are the best husbands in the world is because they want to be faithful. A Frenchman or an Italian will wake up in the morning and wonder what girl he will meet. An Englishman wakes up and wonders what the cricket score is. ~ Barbara Cartland

King Louis Philippe once said to me that he attributed the great success of the British nation in political life to their talking politics after dinner. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

You cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine. It is the country with the worst food after Finland. ~ Jacques Chirac

On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners. ~ George Mikes

If the French were really intelligent, they’d speak English. ~ Wilfred Sheed

England is a nation of shopkeepers. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

If people don’t like Marxism, they should blame the British Museum. ~ Mikhail Gorbachev

The whole strength of England lies in the fact that the enormous majority of the English people are snobs. ~ George Bernard Shaw

When it’s three o’clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in London. ~ Bette Midler

The British have an umbilical cord which has never been cut and through which tea flows constantly. It is curious to watch them in times of sudden horror, tragedy or disaster. The pulse stops, apparently, and nothing can be done, and no move made, until “a nice cup of tea” is quickly made. There is no question that it brings solace and does steady the mind. What a pity all countries are not so tea-conscious. World-peace conferences would run more smoothly if “a nice cup of tea”, or indeed a samovar, were available at the proper time. ~ Marlene Dietrich

There’ll always be an England… even if it’s in Hollywood. ~ Bob Hope [born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, in Well Hall, Eltham, London, England]

The biggest difference between England and America is that England has history, while America has geography. ~ Neil Gaiman

I love England from head to toe. I love the weather, the people. I was there in the summer and it was nice. The people are so groovy. ~ Otis Redding

In the old England there was a greater still. The weather behaved itself. In the spring all the little flowers came out obediently in the meads, and the dew sparkled, and the birds sang; in the summer it was beautifully hot for no less than four months, and, if it did rain just enough for agricultural purposes, they managed to arrange it so that it rained while you were in bed; in the autumn the leaves flamed and rattled before the west winds, tempering their sad adieu with glory; and in the winter, which was confined by statute to two months, the snow lay evenly, three feet thick, but never turned into slush. ~ T. H. White, The Sword in the Stone

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. ~ P. D. James, A Taste for Death

Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to be dead. ~ T. S. Eliot

My point is that this Potter business has legs. It will run and run, and we must be utterly mad, as a country, to leave it to the Americans to make money from a great British invention. I appeal to the children of this country and to their Potter-fiend parents to write to Warner Bros and Universal, and perhaps, even, to the great JK herself. Bring Harry home to Britain – and if you want a site with less rainfall than Rome, with excellent public transport, and strong connections to Harry Potter, I have just the place ~ Boris Johnson