Barmpot (noun): 1. A silly person. 2. A British person.
The world’s biggest sports day kicked off last week. I hope you saw the opening ceremony (or at least caught a highlights reel later on). It was, in the words of Dizzee Rascal, bonkers. Given the fact that this time it’s being hosted in Britain, could it have been any other way? Would we want it any other way? Hell naw.
British people may seem serious and stuffy out the outside, but that’s just a façade. Underneath you’ll find that we’re all absolutely barmy, but we are very much aware of this thank you very much. It’s part of our national pride. It’s how we carry on and get things done. I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world. Being able to laugh at oneself is a skill, and I feel quite lucky that I was born in a country where it’s an innate behaviour rather than something that has to be learned.
Still don’t believe that we’re all certifiably insane, bonkers, barmy and nuts? List time!
1. White Van Man
You’re just driving along (on the left, of course) doing your thing, when suddenly your rear-view mirror fills up with a terrifying sight. A man driving a large vehicle seems to want to overtake you, but why is he riding your rear bumper first? You meet eyes with him and give him an “Excuse me?” look and he returns your gesture by flicking the double Vs. He eventually overtakes and passes you, just barely missing your side mirrors, then veers in front of you forcing you to mash the brake pedal to avoid careening into his rear doors.
Congratulations, you just survived an encounter with White Van Man. An ubiquitous phenomenon in Britain, although nowadays the vans don’t have to be white and the drivers don’t have to be men. A good rule of thumb is that if you spot a vehicle large enough to be used for commercial use, BE AFRAID.
Another great British trait is that rather than tackle an issue head on, we’ll eventually just learn to live with it and accept it as one of those things that you dismiss with a roll of the eyes and a nervous chuckle. Then when you come across somebody driving a van who actually obeys The Highway Code and is a courteous driver it’s a nice surprise and makes us feel good for the future of humanity, while forgetting THAT’S HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE. At least until we turn a corner and another chap threatens to smash your face in for indicating a right turn, and then we’re back to “Oh I know, isn’t it awful? Oh well, can’t be helped, teehee”.
“That building is a monstrosity”
“How much is this national event going to cost??”
“It’ll go wrong. We can’t do anything right.”
“Woooo Union Jack flags woooo!”
We’re a nation of contradiction. We want more effective law enforcement, but we hate CCTV and strict policing. We want to celebrate our history and heritage, but we hate pomp and circumstance. We invented pomp and circumstance. We want to show the rest of the world what we’re capable of, but we don’t want to pay for it. What do we actually want? I’ve been a Britlander for 30 years now and I think I’ve worked it out; we just want to confuse people. That’s it. Then maybe have a nice cup of tea and a sit down, but we mostly just want to mess with other people’s heads. Muwahahahah!
Oh and a quick tip: if you’re visiting Britain and a citizen starts complaining about the skyline, the buildings, the politics or even just the lack of street lights, DO NOT JOIN IN. You don’t get to disparage Old Blighty, that’s our job.
3. Voting for a London mayoral candidate “For a laugh”, turns out to not be such a bad idea after all.
We love the underdog in this country. We also love the buffoon. Which is fitting considering how crackers we are anyway. In 2008 everyone’s favourite floppy-haired overgrown public schoolboy Boris Johnson was a candidate in the running for London Mayor. I don’t live in London so I get to view the role of Mayor as a bit of old guff and can’t vote for my favourite candidate (although it didn’t stop me writing “RED KEN FOR MAYOR” on my school textbooks in 2000… oh dear), I have to admit that the “lol this will be a laugh” movement to get Johnson into power actually worked pretty well.
The London Mayor is responsible for looking after policies and budgets in London while championing the city around the world. Keeping a barmpot in charge of all that means that we get to show other countries what we’re really like, even if some of his buffoonery is clearly for show. It’s like a Barmpot Sampler. Look at what you could win. Be our friend, we’ll make you laugh.
Oh Boris, how did that happen? Oh you!
So yes. British people. We’re all nuts. But don’t point it out if you’re not from here or we’ll tut and you won’t get any biscuits. Well you will, but they won’t be the fancy ones. Yeah.