As the London Olympics countdown reaches just 100 days, the city is bracing itself for an influx of thousands of tourists from all over the world.
For many visitors, this will be their first trip to England, which led English etiquette expert William Hanson to give Associated Press a few tips for the wary tourist on how to act while in England.
IBTimes UK listened to Hanson's tips, before giving a few of its own:
- Don't talk about money: According to Hanson, the English hate to talk about money and it is considered rude to do so. The real reason for this is, of course, the fact that nobody has any money. The majority of English people are so depressed by the state of their meagre wage slips, while tax increases limit their abilities to wallow in alcohol and pasties, that to ask them what they take home every month is tantamount to a slap with a duelling glove.
Meanwhile those who do have money do not want to talk about it, lest the long arm of the taxman finds its way into their corporate accounts.
- The English love to apologise: Hanson claims the English are keen apologisers, even when they themselves are not at fault. While an accurate comment on the national propensity to avoid a scene, Hanson misses out on certain events for which the English will never apologise. These include subtle shifts in body weight to coax a person through the open door of a Tube train, relieving a lost tourist of their wallet from the shadows of a hooded jumper and drunkenly urinating in shop doorways.
- Tip discreetly: The English favour the subtle, sleight of hand method when it comes to a tip, rather than the brash "staple a note to a waiter's back" style of their louder American counterparts. In fact, most English waiters will not kick up a fuss if you decide not to tip at all, although they will quietly feel less guilty about sticking their thumb in your shepherd's pie.
- Afternoon tea: The stereotypical view of the English regularly sitting down for a quaint afternoon tea like extras in an Austen novel is inaccurate. Tourists looking for a typically English culinary experience should head to their nearest greasy spoon for a brew and breakfast that injects you with a piping bag's worth of cholesterol. A handly guideline: the quality of a greasy spoon directly correlates with the number of customers therein wearing high-visibility jackets.
- Social kissing: There is no escaping this one. The English have absolutely no idea what to do in the social kissing stakes. Many will panic, opting for the oddly informal handshake or even an unnecessarily boisterous pat on the back. Any tourist so inclined could easily amuse themselves by seeing how long they can keep an Englishman kissing opposing cheeks, like some sort of socially anxious metronome.
- Sporting gentlemen: During football (which is not to be referred to as soccer), the smallest tap or push by one player on the other will be considered an act of unspeakable violence and hate. During rugby, anything short of attempted homicide is considered "jolly good sport".
- Gift of the gab: If in doubt during conversation, end a sentence with the word "mate".
If you are one of the 450,000 tourists set to come to London during the games, you are most welcome. Do not let our angry faces put you off. Think of the English as the homeowner during a particularly rowdy house party. We have organised it poorly and we are worried about how much it is all going to cost.