Illustrations for The Club by Edu Fuentes

TRAVEL QUIZ • May 2023

How British is your travel etiquette?

Our queues are orderly, our cups of tea are endless and don’t get us started on the weather. But for us Brits, nowhere does our national identity rear its humble head more than at the airport. Care to agree? Take our quiz to find out how British you really are when you prepare to say ‘Cheerio’ to the UK...

Over to American author, Bill Bryson, who has spent a career brilliantly summarising our cultural character...

Notes on a Small Island (2001)
The British are so easy to please. It is the most extraordinary thing. They actually like their pleasures small. That is why so many of their treats – tea cakes, scones, crumpets, rock cakes, rich tea biscuits, fruit Shrewsbury – are so cautiously flavourful. They are the only people in the world who think of jam and currants as thrilling constituents of a pudding or cake. Offer them something genuinely tempting – a slice of gateau or a choice of chocolates from a box – and they will nearly always hesitate and begin to worry that it’s unwarranted and excessive, as if any pleasure beyond a very modest threshold is vaguely unseemly. “Oh, I shouldn’t really,” they say. “Oh, go on,” you prod encouragingly. “Well, just a small one then,” they say and dartingly take a small one, and then get a look as if they have just done something terribly devilish. All this is completely alien to the American mind. To an American, the whole purpose of living, the one constant confirmation of continued existence, is to cram as much sensual pleasure as possible into one’s mouth more or less continuously. Gratification, instant and lavish, is a birthright. You may well say, “Oh, I shouldn’t really”, if someone tells you to take a deep breath. I used to be puzzled by the curious attitude of the British to pleasure, and that tireless, dogged optimism of theirs that allowed them to attach an upbeat turn of phrase to the direst inadequacies – “Mustn’t grumble”, “It makes a change”, “You could do worse”, “It’s not much, but it’s cheap and cheerful”, “Well, it was quite nice” – but gradually I came around to their way of thinking and my life has never been happier.

This article has been tagged Adventure, Culture