"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.
The British are currently ruled by HM Queen Elizabeth II, of the House of Windsor. Presiding in various palaces around the country, Her Royal Majesty dispenses justice, creating new laws, levying taxes and commands the mighty British army. Serving Her Majesty is an extensive group of people known as the noble class. This includes princes, barons, counts, dukes, lords and earls. Below the noble class are the various knights of the realm. Some knights belong to special orders such as the Knights of the Garter and the Knights Templar, thought most are mere humble warriors hoping to rise socially through adventure and proving themselves in combat. If a knight acquires enough wealth while on crusade he may buy himself a dukedom or lordship and rise to be a member of the noble class. Below the knights are the common folk. These common folk are of many varieties but most are cash-poor peasants who farm rented land, paying an annual tithe to the land's lord, who will, in turn, pay his tithe to Her Majesty. Some common folk, however, are in serfdom, meaning they must work the land for the land's lord and are owned by him as well. Many serfs are lost each year to plague.
The flag of the United Kingdom is one of the most intricate, beautifully designed examples of flag making in history. A beautiful red cross is lain atop a tilted white cross and another, slimmer red cross, all set on a majestic blue field. The "Union Jack" as it is affectionately know is made up of three different flags, representing the three countries that make up the United Kingdom: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales, as usual, is not included. Individually, the flags of those three countries couldn't be more boring, but when put together they create something beautiful and, perhaps, remind the citizens of those lands how well all four countries have always gotten along.
British cuisine for many years has been subjected to undeserved scorn. The general opinion of British food is that it is heavy, un-seasoned, un-refined, tastes terrible and is made from unappealing parts of the animal. However, in recent years the United Kingdom has seen an influx of delicious American fast food restaurants like Subway, McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. No longer are the citizens of England forced to choose between pig's eye stew and knuckle milk pie, thanks to American commercial interests. Some British fast food restaurants have even come to America, like this one place off the highway near Newark.
Here are some translations that will help you when watching the show!
"I'm knackered." I am currently feeling knackered.
"Wait a tick" A popular catchphrase from the "Austin Powers" films