10 Commandments for Anti-Social England

This is a short post to say, the stereotype is true. Scottish people are epically friendly and the English…not so much. CONTROVERSIAL.

I’m not just saying this because I am Scottish (let’s be honest, I am). In my own weirdo way, I am quasi-English now. When I am in London, I am busy, I am often rushed and most importunately I don’t want to be bothered – I want to be left alone. That’s the case with a lot of people in London and where England gets its unfriendly label from. However, its also because there is a mirage of weird anti-social, social rules that you must not break. So, if you want to blend in, here are the 10 anti-social commandments of England. 

1. One must not make eye-contact with anyone on the underground.

2. One must not smile at strangers, this will only lead people to believe you are some kind of psychopath.

3.  One must not eat snacks on the tube. It’s completely unacceptable. This includes bars of chocolates and crisps.

4. One must not talk to one’s friends on public transport. Laughing is an absolute no no.

5. One must not slow down the pace of human traffic. Walk quickly and with purpose and correctly identify the flow of traffic and join the right one.  

6. One shall not make small talk with any stranger under any circumstance.

7. One will not apologise or even acknowledge one’s mistake when one bumps into a member of the public.

8. One shall not speak to people’s children. This will only arouse suspicion.

9. One should never offer a stranger help without it being solicited. This includes providing directions to places even though almost everyone who visits London is lost.

10. One is to treat anyone who breaks any of the above rules with contempt.

In Scotland, none of these rules apply. As soon as I get onto a virgin train bound for Glasgow this becomes evident. 99.9% of the time, when I am travelling (for some reason) my train is late, delayed or cancelled and its an epic journey for me to get to where I want to go. But the situation is not quite as bad when you are on a train full of other Glaswegians. There is a type of comradery in the situation and while the English are utterly fed up, the Scots, while annoyed, are in good enough humour to have a laugh about it with other passengers.  

As soon as I am on a Glasgow train, I also change. For starters, I talk to strangers (that’s right, talking to strangers and that too on public transport…I even laugh sometimes.) Today, while I’ve been on a delayed Virgin train to Scotland, I’ve made friends with the girl next to me, I’ve smiled at the lady sitting diagonally from me, I’ve laughed about dropping my laptop (less funny if it had broken) with the guys sitting across from me. I’ve successfully broken every single rule, but it makes for a friendly atmosphere.

Having said this. I feel I should add a disclaimer. English people themselves, as individuals, are equally lovely. It’s just as a social group, there are some weird rules that make it feel unfriendly.

But, at least you now know what you need to do to go native. The aim of the game is to be completely unapproachable. 

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