Foreigners have souls; the English haven’t. On the Continent if you find any amount of people who sigh deeply
for no conspicuous reason, yearn, suffer and look in the air extremely
sadly, this is soul.
The English have no soul; they have understatement instead.
If a continental youth wants to declare his love to a girl, he kneels
down, tells her that she is the sweetest, the most charming and ravishing
person in the world, that she has something in her, something peculiar and
individual which only a few hundred thousand other women have and that
he would be unable to live one more minute without her. Often to give a
little more emphases to the statement, he shoots himself on the spot. This is
a normal, week-day declaration o f love in the more temperamental conti
nental countries. In England the boy pats his adored one on the back and
says softly: ”1 don’t object to you, you know.” He is quite mad with pas
sion, he may add: “I rather fancy you, in fact.”
* * *
Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s are an American export but
other countries also have fast food. For example, in the Far East, open-air
food stalls serve hot food quickly and cheaply.
In Britain however, these open-air food stalls of the orient became
the Chinese takeaways, which you can find in many of the cities, towns and
villages of Britain.
Takeaways sell hot food you carry out to eat in another place.
However, the most famous British takeaway is still the fish and chip
Wimpy is a trademark for a fast food chain in Britain. J Wellington
Wimpy was a friend of cartoon character Popey who loved hamburgers.
Britain’s appetite for convenience foods is growing. Instead of meals
many people eat crisps, snacks, nuts and cereal bars.
Less than half the population of Britain take part regularly in sport.
The majority of those who do are men between the age of 20 or 45. The
most popular outdoor sporting activity is walking (two miles or more).
The most popular indoor activity is snooker ([snu:ke] - вид биль
ярдной игры) and the similar' games of billiards and pool.
This table shows the top eight indoor and outdoor sports, games and
physical activities that adults in Britain take part in.
Athletics (incl. jogging)
Football fans sometimes damage trains and property near football
grounds, attack supporters of other teams and fight on the terraces of the
In Britain they are known as ‘football hooligans’.
In Europe, football hooliganism is known as the English disease, al
though there are hooligans in other countries too.
In Britain, a twenty-first birthday party traditionally marks ‘the com
ing of age’. Today, this tradition is less important because young people get
so many rights before they are twenty-one. For example, in Britain young
people have the right to vote at the age of eighteen. Now, the eighteenth
birthday is becoming as important as the twenty-first.
There are six and a half million dogs and six to eight million cats in
Britain. This means that approximately one in ten people own a dog or a
cat. Every year the British spend over 1,5 billion pounds on pet food such
as tinned dog food. They also support over 380 charities and societies
which aim to protect animals. These include donkey sanctuaries, horses’
rest homes, and dog and cat sanctuaries. The RSPCA (The Royal Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the largest animal welfare so
ciety in Britain. It provides practical help to animals in homes, hospitals
and clinics. However, it also campaigns against animal cruelty. It has over
250 inspectors who make sure nobody breaks the laws which protect ani
In Britain, marriage is a relationship where a man and woman make
a legal agreement to live together.
The agreement can be religious (such as in church) or in a civil
ceremony. Today only 50 % of people get married in church. Young people
under sixteen can’t get married. When you are sixteen or seventeen your
parents must agree. The number of teenage wedding is dropping. Only 28%
of brides and 11% of bridegrooms are under 21. 32% of brides and 33% of
grooms are aged 21-24.
The average age for men to get married is 25,5. The average age for
women is 23.
One in ten British couples get divorced in the first six years. The
younger the couple, the more likely the divorce.
In a church the bride and the groom take the marriage vow :
“I James take thee Carol to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and
to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in
sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, accord
ing to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.” The vicar
blesses the wedding ring and places it on the third finger of the bride’s left
hand. These days, the groom often wears a ring too. As they leave the
church together, their friends throw confetti and rice. The friends and fam
ily go to a reception where there is a lot of food and drink. They drink a
toast to the bride and groom, eat a slice of wedding cake and listen to the
16. Food and Drink English cooking is heavy, substantial and plain. The ideal English
breakfast consists of cereals, either porridge (borrowed from the Scots) or
com flakes with milk and sugar followed by bacon and eggs, or sausages
and tomatoes, toast and marmalade, and finally, of course, a cup of tea.
Tea is part o f the prose o f British life, as necessary as potatoes or
bread. It must be made "just like mother makes it", one teaspoonful of tea
for each person and "one for the pot". Boiling water is added and the tea is
allowed to stand, brew or draw. It is drunk with or without sugar but almost
always with milk. No self-respecting Briton would drink a cup of tea which
has not been made in a teapot in a civilised way; he would certainly never
accept a cup with that monstrosity, a tea bag, dangling in it.
The midday meal is called lunch. This meal consists on week-days
for example, o f stew, fried fish, chops, liver, or sausages, and some kind of
vegetable, usually carrots, cabbage, cauliflower or peas, and potatoes. Meat
is rather expensive in Britain and the working class tend to buy the cheaper
cut and imported rather than homeproduced meat. Rice and macaroni are
seldom served. Vegetables such as carrots, peas and cabbage are cooked for
long periods in lots of water, then strained and served. They are not sea
soned with sweet-sour sauces or with herbs. The sweet, sometimes called
dessert, may consist of fruit and custard or the famous steamed or boiled
pudding. Another favourite sweet is rice pudding or sago. There are many
varieties o f pie. Fruit baked in a covering of pastry with a "lid" is called a
pie; without a lid it is called a tart. These pies or tarts are eaten hot or cold,
often with custard.
Sunday dinner is a special occasion, a week-end joint of beef or lamb
being bought and eaten hot with vegetables. After this there will probably
follow a large, heavy pudding with custard; a cup of tea completes the
meal. The English occasionally like to drink water or beer with their meal,
but only in the expensive restaurants or among upper class people are spir
its taken with the meal. Spirits are generally too expensive for the normal
household, except at Christinas time. Supper is usually a snack of bread
and cheese and cocoa. The English have a popular speciality known as fish
and chips. This meal, fit for king, is only appreciated by those with a spe
cially trained palate. Fish and chips can be made at home but the best fish
and chips are sold in fish and chips shops. Fish coated in batter are fried
golden-brown and served with chips on a piece o f paper, salt and vinegar
are added and the meal is then wrapped in a final sheet of newspaper. One
hurries home with the precious bundle, its delicious odour wafting through
the newspaper, or else the fish and chips are simply eaten out of the news
paper, in the street, with one's fingers. This is one of the joys of being Eng
17. Invitation to Dinner The two features of life in England that possibly give visitors their
worst impressions are the English weather and English cooking. The for
mer is something that nobody can do anything about but cooking is some
thing that can be learned. English food has often been described as taste
less. Although this criticism has been more than justified in the past, and in
many instances still is, the situation is changing somewhat. One of the rea
son that English cooking is improving is that so many people have been
spending their holidays abroad and have learned to appreciate unfamiliar
dishes. However there are still many British people who are so unadventur
ous when they visit other countries that they will condemn everywhere that
does not provide them with tea and either fish and chips or sausage, baked
beans and chips or overdone steak and chips.
One o f the traditional grouses about English food is the way that
vegetables are cooked. Firstly the only way that many British housewives
know to cook green vegetables is to boil them for far too long in too much
salt water and then to throw the water away so that all the vitamins are lost.
To make matters worse, they do not strain the vegetables sufficiently so
that they appear as a soggy wet mass on the plate.
It would be unfair to say that all English food is bad. Many tradi
tional British dishes are as good as anything you can get anywhere. Nearly
everybody knows about roast beef and Yorkshire pudding but this is by no
means the only dish that is cooked well. A visitor if invited to an English
home might well enjoy steak and kidney pudding or pie, saddle of mutton
with red-currant jelly, all sorts of smoked fish, especially kippers, boiled
salt beef and carrots, to mention but a few.
A strange thing about England that the visitor may notice is that most
of the good restaurants in England are run and staffed by foreigners - for
example there is a larger number of Chinese, Indian and Italian restaurants
and to a less extent French and Spanish ones.
Have you ever heard about a Scottish breakfast?
The first thing you have for breakfast in Scotland is porridge. It is
made from oatmeal, and the Scots put milk and salt on it. Then you have
eggs (or fish, or sausages), with bread or toast; and then toast and marma
lade. With your breakfast you drink tea.
When people from other countries eat a Scottish breakfast, they don't
want to eat anything else for the rest of the day. But the Scots are hungry
again by lunch-time.
One of the most famous Scottish dishes is haggis. It is made of meat
and oatmeal. It is large and round, but looks like a pudding. You usually
buy haggis at a butcher's. You can also buy haggis in tins.
"Если бы Вам вздумалось вскрыть сердце англи
чанина, Вы обнаружили бы в самом сердце его
клочок подстриженной лужайки". Н. Казантаакис
Perhaps the commonest of all hobbies in Britain is gardening. Most
English people love gardens and have many times been described as "a na
tion of flower-growers". This may be one of the reasons why people prefer
to live in houses rather than flats. Nearly all houses have a small piece of
garden at the front of the house and a small enclosed garden at the back.
The garden usually consists o f a small well-kept lawn, a garden path and
some flower beds or flower border. There might be a "kitchen garden",
where vegetables and herbs are grown, hidden away not to spoil the attrac
tiveness of the rest. People who have no garden of their own sometimes
have patches of land, often in specially reserved places, known as "allot
ments", where they grow vegetables.
You can hear gardening being discussed on trains and buses and over
the garden fences, as well as at the innumerable flower and vegetable
shows of the spring and the summer, from the famous Chelsea Flower
Show, to the small local affairs which cause such deadly rivalry among
gardeners. Prizes are awarded for the best exhibits. Frequently it is the gar
dener's aim to grow the biggest carrots or cabbages, but this does not mean
that the quality and taste will necessarily be the best. Gardening clubs and
evening classes attract a large number of enthusiasts.
One of the newer forms of entertainment is Bingo, a game of chance,
played by groups of people for money-prizes. It is organized throughout the
country in converted cinemas, club rooms and village halls, providing di
version for the elderly and lonely, and does not involve large sums of
19. Special Days MOTHER'S DAY Mother’s day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in England.
On Mother's Day people visit their mothers if possible and give them flow
ers and small presents. If they cannot go, they send a "Mother's Day card".
The family try to see that the mother has a little work to do as possible.
Sometimes the husband or children prepare breakfast. They help with the
other meals and do the washing up. They try to make Mother's Day a day
of rest for their mothers. On Mother's Day children say "thank you" to their
mothers for taking care of them during the whole year. They give a card to
their mother, and a little present - some flowers or a box of sweets.
ST. VALENTINE’S DAY (February 14) "I'll be your sweetheart, if you will be mine,
All of my life I'll be your Valentine..."
On this day greetings of affection, sometimes of a comic character
are sent in the form of Valentine's cards to a person of the opposite sex,
usually anonymously. The first Valentine was said to be a Christian martyr,
who before he was put to death by the Romans sent a note of friendship to
his jailer’s blind daughter. The Christian Church took for his saint's day
February 14, the date of the old pagan spring festival, when young Roman
maidens threw decorated love missives into an um to be drawn by their boy
HALLOWEEN Halloween was first celebrated many centuries ago in Ireland and
Scotland by Celtic priests called Druids. They observed the end o f autumn
and the beginning of winter. The Druids thought that Halloween was the
night when the witches came out. As they were afraid of the witches they
put on different clothes and painted their faces to deceive the evil spirits.
They also placed food; small gifts near the door of their houses for the
witches. This was, as they say now, the beginning o f the expression "trick
or treat" (meaning "give me something or I'll play a trick on you").
BONFIRE NIGHT (GUY FAWKES' DAY) Remember, remember
For I see no reason
The Fifth of November Gunpowder,
Why gunpowder treason
Treason and plot,
Should ever be forgot.
These are the words of a song children sing on November 5. The
Gunpowder Plot (1605) was conceived by Robert Catesby, who organized
a Roman Catholic attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, during the
ceremonial state opening o f Parliament by James I. Guy Fawkes, an experi
enced soldier stored the barrels of gunpowder in a vault under the Houses
of Parliament. The plot was discovered in time and the conspirators were
arrested and executed. Right up to the present time the Gunpowder Plot is
commemorated in Britain on the fifth o f November and marked by fire
works displays and bonfires on which the "guy" is burned.
20. Christmas What does it mean to you? Cards and presents, good things to eat,
trimmings and decorations, carols and nativity plays, crackers and panto
The word Christmas means Christ's Mass. The Mass is an ancient
Christian church service at which people give praise and glory to God.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem about
two thousand years ago and was the Son of God.
The story o f Jesus' birth explains many of the things we see and do at
Christmas time. It explains why we sing carols about Jesus, and why we
sometimes put a star on top of the Christmas tree, like the star the three
Wise Men followed. It explains why we put on nativity plays, why we
make Christmas cribs and why we give presents, just as the Wise Men gave
gifts to Jesus.
All over the world, traditional gift bringers visit children at Christ
mas. Santa Claus is the best known o f these. His name comes from the
Dutch for 'St. Nicholas', which is Sinterklaas. St. Nicolas was Bishop of
Myra, in Asia Minor. He was a rich man who used his wealth to help oth
ers. Although his feast day is on 6th December he was so famous for his
generosity that his name is always linked with Christmas itself.
On Christmas Eve the final preparations are made for Christmas Day
(December 25). Some families may have a young fir tree. This is "Christ
mas tree", its branches draped with tinsel and hung with shining ornaments,
and perhaps coloured lights. Paper chains hang across the rooms and paper-
balls bob up and down from the ceiling. Sprigs of holly and ivy decorate
the rooms and a large bunch of mistletoe hangs in a prominent place in the
hall, or over the door. It is a custom to kiss under the mistletoe. Christmas
cards are displayed on the mantelpiece, i.e. the shelf over the fireplace.
They bring good wishes to the family -
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
The Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year.
Carol-singers come round after dark, and are invited in for some re
freshment. They usually collect a few coins from each house, either for
themselves or some charity.
On Christmas Eve tired but reluctant the children go to bed early,
looking forward to the morning. Young children hang up a large stocking
or a pillow-case at the foot o f the bed, hoping to find it filled with presents
when they awake.
Christmas dinner on December 25 is a great occasion. There is roast
turkey with chestnut stuffing and roast potatoes and Christmas pudding.
Plum pudding is sure o f honour on the Christmas dinner table. We could
dispense with turkey and goose, we could even dispense with mince-pies,
but a Christmas dinner in Britain without the traditional Christmas pudding
would be strange indeed.
Nowadays, in addition to the basic mixture of flour, breadcrumbs,
suet and eggs, the ingredients of Christmas pudding include raisins, cur
rants, sultanas, candied peel, chopped almonds and walnuts, carrot and (in
place of the discarded mutton broth) a good measure of brandy, whisky or
old ale. In many households the mixing of the pudding is quite a ceremony,
with all the members of the family taking turns to stir and make a wish. A
wooden spoon is normally used - in accordance with the old custom by
which our ancestors honoured the memoiy o f the wooden manger at Beth
lehem - and the mixture is still stirred from east to west to commemorate
the visit of the Wise Men. After being boiled for several hours, the pudding
is stored until the time comes for heating it on Christmas Day, when it is
brought to the table adorned with sprigs of holly and glowing from the
flames of lighted brandy.
There is a legend about how Christmas puddings were invented.
One Christmas Eve, a king of England found himself in a forest with
no food. Night was drawing on, so he stopped at a woodcutter's cottage and
asked for food and shelter. The woodcutter was very poor, but he and the
king mixed together all the food they had. The king had only some brandy.
The result was a sweet, sticky mixture which they put into a bag and
boiled. Lo and behold! They had made the first Christmas pudding.
A traditional kissing bush is easy to make - simply cover a frame
work o f hoops with evergreens and hang a sprig o f mistletoe йот the cen
tre. Any girl who is kissed beneath the bush will be sure of good luck and a
Some nations celebrate the New Year, but for the English the most
important festival is Christmas.
Telling your fortune in the pudding.
Some cooks put silver coins and lucky charms into the pudding mix
ture. But many years ago, other simple things were added and it became
part of the fun to see who got what! A dried bean in your portion meant
that you were going to be a king.
A dried pea meant that you were going to be a queen, A clove meant
that you would grow up to be a rascal. A twig meant that you would grow
up to play the fool. A bit of rag in your pudding meant that you were lazy
and would rather buy a Christmas pudding than go to the trouble of making
In parts of Northern England and in Scotland the old custom of First-
Footing is still observed. Tradition says that the first person to enter a
house on New Year's Day should be a dark-haired man, otherwise ill-luck
will follow. It is also advisable that the person should bring with him a gift
- a piece of coal, a fish, a bottle of whisky or a piece o f bread are traditional
gifts. Curiously enough, in a few other parts of the country, the First-Footer
is required to beat fair-haired man. In the past, a young man of the right
colouring and with an eye to business would offer his service as First-
Footer to house holds in the district - for a small fee.
Making spirits bright.
What fun it is to ride and to sing
A sleighing song to night.