I’ve met some British tourists here and there, but never the kind that is getting all the press these days.
“They scream, they sing, they fall down, they take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit,” the mayor of Malia, Greece, told The New York Times. “It is only the British people — not the Germans or the French.”
Not Americans, either. So how is it fair that we’re “Ugly Americans?” Maybe we do talk too loudly and refuse to learn other languages. But c’mon. At least we keep our pants on in public.
The Times story referred to a report, recently released by the British foreign office, entitled British Behaviour Abroad. The story suggested that, in addition to throwing the letter “u” into words that clearly don’t need them, British people like to get drunk, disorderly and, umm, amorous, particularly in the warmer parts of Europe and Asia.
The reason cited by the tourists quoted in the Times story was that British people feel repressed back home (“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way,” quoth Pink Floyd) and are looking to cut loose a little. To relax the stiff upper lip, as it were.
The report cited relatively few serious incidents (although lots of minor ones) involving British tourists in the United States, which squares pretty well with my experience. I find British visitors quite well-mannered, though perhaps slightly prone toward indignation about the things we put ketchup on. (We have to take this from people who eat kippers? Without ketchup?)
In fact, I haven’t heard of many complaints about the Brits since they burned down the White House — and that was nearly 200 years ago. Besides, I think maybe that was really the Canadians.