Last month the daily Telegraph columinst Allison Pearson wrote a tongue in cheek advice to the new bride of Prince Harry, Meghan. Tongue in cheek it might have been, but oh it was so true and it summed up the psyche of the British people.
In one word, the British hate being demonstrative, boastful or over complimentary. I come from Asia,India to be precise, where we are born with the desire for upmanship , emphasising our own importance ,and are not averse to making up stories to prove a point. If we buy something, everyone in the extended family, the neighbourhood and even the relatives abroad have to know about it. Phone calls have to be made at great expense to inform them of our new house/car/ fridge or even jewellery.
Everyone has a sycophant friend/relative who hangs around simply to agree with you and boost your ego and tell you how unique, beautiful and fantastic you are!
No life is complete without them.
I think my late husband was very suited for the British way of life, he was a man of few words, never overstated anything, always played down his own achievementds and never paid any of us any compliment! I learnt over the years that if he gave an approving smile ,then I have to tell myself that I have made the right effort, and the meal i have cooked or the way I have dressed meets his approval. Our children achieved great things, whereas I was telling anyone who would listen about our son getting into oxford at 17 or our daughter excelling at her medical school, their father just nodded and smiled.
Both my children have the same attitude,I think they were chuffed with the minimal approval they got from their father, and cringed at my boasting. But hey am the typical ,over bearing Asian mother, I had to live up to my reputation!
I think Americans have the similar attitudes, hence Asians feel very much at home there.and find the British to be cold and indifferent. The same goes for being patriotic, British people deride/mock and criticise their leaders and how they are governed.Cartoonists and columnists are merciless when it comes to holding them to account, perhaps that is why we have one of the least corrupt government in the world.
The so called Asian democracies clamp down heavily on their so called ‘free press” , no one dare openly question their administration at any level without facing consequences.
Another remarkable British characteristic is the richer/highly educated ,accomplished someone is the more self deprecating, humble and non demonstrative of their assets/education/status they are. It is very hard to guess an Englishman/woman’s accomplishments by meeting /talking to them. Where as an Asian will have look at me written all over them, they have to have the right attire, transport before they set a foot out, and their houses have to be of a certain type, within five minutes of meeting them , you will know ,as to how rich they are , how expensive their house/car is, how clever their children are ,and then they will look inquiringly at you, expecting you to reel off your own itinerary.
So it seems Meghan has heeded Allison’s advice, she is quietly getting on whatever it is she is meant to do.
And that is the British way!