"Britain, Britain, Britain." So starts HBO's new comedy, Little Britain: USA. The show has been a huge hit in England for years and now it's being tweaked, re-shot and brought to the colonies. But to truly appreciate this new show one must first understand the land from which it came. Therefore I will attempt to bring you an all-encompassing guide to British culture in two parts.
Surprisingly, England is older than America and the British are passionate about their long and storied history. The land was first settled by the Celts many thousands of years ago. Then the Romans invaded. Then the Norsemen invaded. Then the Normans invaded. But since 1066, when William the Bastard defeated the ill-fated King Harold with a well-place arrow shot to the eye, England has gone un-invaded militarily. This relative stability allowed the British to become one of the world's foremost naval powers and it also allowed them to enslave half of the world. As the old saying goes, "the sun never sets on the places where the British have crushed and exploited the native populations." Always the trendsetters, the colonies that would one day become the United States broke free from British rule in the late-18th century and over the next 200 or so years, all of nearly all of Britain's former colonies broke free as well. Except Canada. They half-assed it.
Besides colonial and militaristic history, the British have a rich cultural history as well. Darwin, Newton, Drake, Hood and Jagger; just a few of the famous names that not only belong to the isle of Britain, but to history as well. They've given us The Beatles and V from "V for Vendetta." Their main cultural export is entertainment and we've soaked it up like so many McDonalds-stuffed sponges: The Weakest Link, Big Brother, Nanny 911 and hundreds of other reality TV programs have been graciously brought to our shores. Also Coldplay.
Anyone new to the isle of Britain will no doubt be confounded by the curious, and often foolish, spelling choices that dot their signs and newspapers. Technically, we Americans speak their language, but we certainly don't spell their language. The "British U," as it's known, pops up in words that don't need a "u' with alarming frequency. "Colour," "flavour," "honour," "armour" and "sour" are all misspelled with gusto on their cold little island. Why, this very website would be "CollegeHumour.com" in England and would probably be filled with articles about the royal family's foibles, fanfic about David Beckham and videos of grown men dressed as ladies (I suppose we aren't so different in that department). The British also use 'aluminium' foil, fly on 'aeroplanes,' make 'arses' of themselves and 'snigger' when their 'mums' say something a 'titbit' funny. Thank God George Washington himself banished the superfluous British U as his first official act as President after the end of Revolutionary Waur.
The British invented the newspaper and, strangely, continue to read them to this day. Instead of reporting world news however, 98% of the printed ink in England goes to covering the exploits of large-breasted blonde women who are known only by their first names. The media extensively covers these women to the point of neglecting to report wars, economic concerns and government policy. Thusly, most English citizens are not quite sure who is Prime Minister but know for certain that Keely accidentally flashed her vagina while exiting a car in Ibiza. Most Americans find this celebrity obsession sickening, as many of these so-called "celebrities" have done nothing more for their fame than be born attractive. Some haven't even made sex tapes.
Here are some translations that will help you when watching the show!
Boot A type of shoe
Bobby A fairly common name for boys
Lorry A fairly common name for girls
Lift A verb meaning 'to pick up.'
Toilet A bathroom
Queue The phonetic spelling of the letter "Q"
Fag A derogatory term for a homosexual