As a public service, and with deep respect for my British colleagues, I’ve decided to reveal the results of my research on why the British take so long. We know it’s not because they are excessively outgoing, or slap-the-knee humorous. Fortunately, I’ve narrowed it down to two factors:
1. The rhetorical question. The British have a strange habit of asking a non-question, an interrogative cul-de-sac. For example, they will say, “It’s a cloudy day, isn’t it?” Now, is that a request for a comment, or simply for agreement, or is silence expected? Or is it sarcastic, as in a New Yorker’s, “Nice day!”? Do they sincerely want an answer? I don’t know, because the conversation goes like this:
“We’re in a bit of a spot, aren’t we? The traffic seems tied up for miles, doesn’t it? There’s a chance we’ll be late, won’t we? We could take the Standwith Circle Circus Rotary, couldn’t we?”
I just don’t know. Should I respond? (That was a real question.) It’s like talking to someone with hiccups. You just don’t know when to squeeze in a comment. It takes so long.
2. Addresses. Here’s the address of the last package I mailed to GreatBritain: 43 Foulward, The Baskings, Hastings on Tweed, 44 Donnelly (Near Gladstone), Pluxbury Gardens, Level 4, Flat 3, 130 Cobblestone Chuck. This is why it takes so long. Imagine making out Christmas cards, or a spread sheet of contacts. The British seem to want to capture every historical nuance in current names. (In London, there are two Tate Museums. Perhaps they’ve run out of names.)
This follows my research on why the Irish take so long, which is due to only one reason: They begin every sentence or question with: “After 800 years of British oppression….”
© Alan Weiss 2013
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