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British Problems
January 9, 2013 9:31 AM   Subscribe

A few select posts from the politest, most quietly despairing subreddit, r/Britishproblems (background)
posted by The Whelk (76 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
If these were geocoded we'd discover that most of them were done by Decemberists fans in Portland and Brooklyn.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:35 AM on January 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


Was this also a Buzzfeed list or something? I seem to remember it popping up as one on my UK friends' Facebook accounts.
posted by Kitteh at 9:38 AM on January 9, 2013


I'm pretty clear where I stand on the whole Marmite thing.
posted by tommasz at 9:38 AM on January 9, 2013


I always thought r/proper was polite and quietly despairing but on checking again it seems to be mostly "Pip-pip monocles, indeed! *chomps pipe*"
posted by yellowbinder at 9:41 AM on January 9, 2013


The door opening one is basically my entire life when I am out in public. Which is why I prefer hiding under the bed.
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also I apologized to all my teacups last week after having used my new Fat Pony mug every day for two weeks in a row, because I thought they might have felt neglected.
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on January 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Now I am recalling that I apologized to them as a group and not individually and this is going to bother me until I get home and set things right.
posted by elizardbits at 9:44 AM on January 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


elizardbits: "Also I apologized to all my teacups last week after having used my new Fat Pony mug every day for two weeks in a row, because I thought they might have felt neglected."

Woo, Kate Beaton!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Marmite: you don't have to love it, but at least be good enough to hate it.
posted by gilrain at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I held a door for someone to go through first today - then the classroom nearby opened up and I ended up holding the door for three classroom's worth of students and staff to go past, having to think up ways to nod, and smile, and say 'no problem', 'quite alright', 'my pleasure', 'thank you' for the many of them that thanked me, while I was just dying to get to the loo.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I read it as Dragon Ball Zed"

We have a winner.
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I liked this way more than I thought I would.
posted by slogger at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2013


benito.strauss: "If these were geocoded we'd discover that most of them were done by Decemberists fans in Portland and Brooklyn."

"Music store was out of autoharp strings"
posted by boo_radley at 9:51 AM on January 9, 2013


"I read it as Dragon Ball Zed"

So do the Japanese. (Well, "Zetto.") We Yanks are the ones screwing it up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:52 AM on January 9, 2013


We have a winner.

I don't know. "Morrissey called for the Beckhams to be flogged because THEY are insufferable. This is surely the irony bomb that will kill us all." has a lot going for it.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:55 AM on January 9, 2013


From the subreddit:

Accidentally signed off an email with 'sorry for any incontinence' instead of 'inconvenience' and did nothing about it.

I aspire to that level of sangfroid.
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:55 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also the microwave tea thing in Avatar would have also upset me throughout the entire film had I noticed it; instead, I was too busy concentrating on suppressing my almost overwhelming outrage at the use of Papyrus in the titles and subtitles.
posted by elizardbits at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm not British, but I actually once thanked an ATM. And in the wrong language too...

That anecdote pretty much sums me up: multilingual, polite and absent-minded.
posted by Skeptic at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh dear. Reading r/Britishproblems I have only now realised that 'Word War Z' is supposed to be a play on World War Three. Genuinely had no idea until now.

I not only identify with these, but I have also apologised on two occasions when asked in the street if I knew anywhere to buy drugs and did not.
posted by Coobeastie at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


Whenever I have my two year old nephew round, I know at some point he'll lead me into the kitchen and say "tea!" If he doesn't get his cup of tea, he throws a mard.
posted by Jehan at 10:01 AM on January 9, 2013


I left my cup of tea in the kitchen, and when I came back for it the kitchen was so full of empty mugs I couldn't find my one.

After I made tea this morning I wandered through my tiny apartment and had to sample three mugs with tea in them before I found the one that was the correct variety (Irish Breakfast).
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2013


First World Problems are ok, but I much prefer to discuss Fifth World Problems.
posted by mysterpigg at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


This sort of thing reminds me of this video. It's just a video of some bloke testing out his new coffee machine, but with a perfect mix of innocence, curiosity and quiet despair that had me in tears of laughter by the end.
posted by metaBugs at 10:07 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always find it annoying when the British Rail announcement changes voice. She'll be talking nicely, like "this train calls at Darnall, Kiveton, Kiveton Bridge, Retford Low Level..." and then suddenly breaks to some dodgy man saying "...Gainsborough Lea Road..." before switching back to the woman "...and arrives in Lincoln at 3.34pm." It's very disconcerting, and makes me feel a mixture of sorrow and fear for Gainsborough. What did they do to the woman to deserve that?
posted by Jehan at 10:10 AM on January 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


The apology thing is not exclusively British. Once, when travelling in Hungary with a mixed group of Brits, Canadians and Kiwis, we decided that the most important Hungarian word to learn was 'sorry': people from each of these countries are able to communicate almost any concept solely through the medium of apology.
posted by Dreadnought at 10:10 AM on January 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think someone should do a study: who says "sorry" more in a given day, Brits or Canadians?

My old British roommate would win on an individual level, but for a country average I think it might be Canadians (Brits don't apologize when you bump into them, which is quite rude).
posted by jb at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


First World Problems are ok, but I much prefer to discuss Fifth World Problems.
posted by mysterpigg at 10:03 AM on 1/9
[+] [!]


what is this I dont even
posted by graphnerd at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh dear. Reading r/Britishproblems I have only now realised that 'Word War Z' is supposed to be a play on World War Three. Genuinely had no idea until now.

Huh, oh yes,

Gosh.
posted by brilliantmistake at 10:18 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jehan: "I always find it annoying when the British Rail announcement changes voice. She'll be talking nicely, like "this train calls at Darnall, Kiveton, Kiveton Bridge, Retford Low Level..." and then suddenly breaks to some dodgy man saying "...Gainsborough Lea Road..." before switching back to the woman "...and arrives in Lincoln at 3.34pm." It's very disconcerting, and makes me feel a mixture of sorrow and fear for Gainsborough. What did they do to the woman to deserve that?"

The automated announcements on the NJTransit Trains into New York City did something similar. All of their automated announcements were recorded in the same voice, except for a short security message that screamed "BE MINDFUL OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS" right before the train stopped in New York. It was pretty handy, given that it would reliably wake me up from the naps I inevitably took every morning due to the insanity of taking the 5AM train to work.

I also remember the announcements on some British trains being relentlessly incessant (albeit narrated in a very pleasant voice). I still have all the stops between Glasgow and Edinburgh memorized. The announcer always over-enunciated 'Falkirk High'.
posted by schmod at 10:19 AM on January 9, 2013


Had one of these last night on the train, as the person sat next to me was coughing and hacking and spluttering and jerking around and couldn't figure out how to move to another seat without being rude.

I changed trains.
posted by fightorflight at 10:19 AM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Tesco Value.
posted by schmod at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do Scottish people sound so insincere when they say "sorry"? It's most likely only the accent, but it always sounds to my ear like, "yeah I'm sorry, did I hurt your delicate English feelings?".
posted by Jehan at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I left my cup of tea in the kitchen, and when I came back for it the kitchen was so full of empty mugs I couldn't find my one.

Oh God, this is my life. Except I ran out of tea this morning, before finding some Twining's Irish Breakfast stashed in the back of the cabinet. Except it's pretty foul (I think the issue is that Twining's tastes weird unless you let it get really strong), so I didn't finish that mug of tea. Now my sole goal of the day is to go to the shop and buy more tea.
posted by hoyland at 10:23 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I have in the past gotten off at the wrong stop on public transportation solely to get away from people who were ignorant of the fact that decent human beings cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing huge sloppy wet coughs and/or sneezes.
posted by elizardbits at 10:23 AM on January 9, 2013


I have also apologised on two occasions when asked in the street if I knew anywhere to buy drugs and did not.

I'm Canadian. Why would one not apologize for this? I swear that I've spent about two minutes looking at this in wonder, confused that a person would think to do different.

But yeah, World War Z makes slightly more sense now.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:25 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tesco Value.
Kwiksave No Frills.

The worst thing about Tesco Value is that they don't stock it in smaller outlets like Metros. You're driven to "upbuy" only cause you can't get what you want cheaper. Lidl and Netto are godsends (though Aldi can go to hell).
posted by Jehan at 10:27 AM on January 9, 2013


Incidentally, a question for British people in this thread: does the time "half twelve" mean 1230 or 1130? I have heard it used both ways and it is most vexing.
posted by elizardbits at 11:01 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Russian it means 11:30. This is a relevant answer because wait what's that over there behind you
posted by griphus at 11:05 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I asked the Brits around me and they said 12:30, so did the Irish people in the room.

The Irish may be fucking with me however.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on January 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Incidentally, a question for British people in this thread: does the time "half twelve" mean 1230 or 1130? I have heard it used both ways and it is most vexing.

I'm pretty sure my British friends use it both ways just to mess with me, so there's that...

(but also, the Marmite one, genius!)
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2013


half-twelve means (usually) 12.30; half'pa'twelve is always 12.30, while half't'twelve is 11.30. Depending upon accent, the middle t on the last may be silent.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


You tricksy bastards.
posted by elizardbits at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2013


See also the Twitter VeryBritishProblems
posted by vacapinta at 11:19 AM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Incidentally, a question for British people in this thread: does the time "half twelve" mean 1230 or 1130? I have heard it used both ways and it is most vexing.
posted by elizardbits at 7:01 PM on January 9 [+] [!]

It actually means six o'clock.
posted by dng at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


only in so'east wessix where they observe the traditional hey-clock hour system
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2013


Bloody hell vacapinta, that twitter feed is so accurate, it's scary.
Getting stuck in a "fine thanks, how are you?" loop
Especially this one.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Half twelve is always (in my experience I suppose to avoid being absolutist) 12.30 to a British or Irish person. I think it's a German (or maybe continental Europe in general) thing for it to mean 11.30.

Also Twinings + Irish breakfast tea = does not compute
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like the person who posted that they are "The friend who likes bountys", I am the friend who likes Peeps, those weird marshmallow things that pop up for every holiday in the US. They’re pretty tasty, in very small amounts, when left to get stale, (it’s all about the chew), but I get tons of Peeps from well-meaning friends every Easter, Christmas and Halloween. Because they’re so happy to present me with these uber-sweet confections, I feel obliged to eat them. Sometimes they’ll even unwrap the packs early, and give them to me pre-staled. How can I say no to such largess?
posted by but no cigar at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Half twelve is 12:30 in UK English
posted by Bwithh at 11:44 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh dear. Reading r/Britishproblems I have only now realised that 'Word War Z' is supposed to be a play on World War Three. Genuinely had no idea until now.

As a result of the comment thread, I've only just realised I've always said Jay Z wrong. Whoops.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:59 AM on January 9, 2013


Apologized to the moose I hit with my car.

r/Canadianproblems
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:11 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love that subreddit and am alarmed it may be getting more exposure. My favourite recently was "I accidentally said hello to someone I walk past every morning on my way to work. Now I'll have to change to a longer route, or quit my job. Or kill them." Some of the comments were amazing.

There's an /r/Irishproblems too, but it pains me to say it's not nearly as funny or smart.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:32 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am reading the reddit post aloud to myself in a terrible british accent and laughing wildly. Coworkers think I am talking to a weird british person on speakerphone.

i winar
posted by elizardbits at 12:34 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's very disconcerting, and makes me feel a mixture of sorrow and fear for Gainsborough. What did they do to the woman to deserve that?

Scotrail did this on the Glasgow to Wemyss Bay line for a while, because the original announcer pronounced 'Wemyss' as 'Wee Miss' instead of 'Weems'. So for a while, the announcement was the clipped-voiced semi-computer-like female announcer saying "This train will stop at Drumfrochar, Branchton, IBM, Inverkip -" and then a gruff Glaswegian bloke adding "and Wemyss Bay."

It makes me sad that they fixed it.
posted by Catseye at 12:41 PM on January 9, 2013


My father-in-law this Christmas, Heathrow airport.
"I just bumped in to somebody and they said sorry! What do I say?"

First time in the West, just barely crossed the border and already a British problem...
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I created the subreddit, it's proving popular :)
posted by Skuld at 1:12 PM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]




There's an /r/Irishproblems too, but it pains me to say it's not nearly as funny or smart.

Are anyone of them getting all the gas sucked out of your car while you're looking at a nice castle cause that happened to me like two days ago.
posted by The Whelk at 2:13 PM on January 9, 2013


On the subject of the telling of time, the back of twelve means any time after twelve but before half twelve (though I'd really expect someone around 12.10). I think that this may be more of a Scottish than a British thing, though.

Are anyone of them getting all the gas sucked out of your car while you're looking at a nice castle cause that happened to me like two days ago.

I'd have thought that they'd have gone after the petrol first.
posted by MUD at 2:17 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


you're not supposed to talk on the tube

My best moment of tube schadenfreude was being in a carriage with two other people, one a man in his 20s, the other a US tourist in her 50s or so. She leaned across to the man and in a breezy tone said 'Hi! How are you?'. The man looked aghast, was silent for 10 seconds then said 'Do I know you?'.

My own worst moment was being approached by German teenagers on the Jubilee line around Remembrance Sunday to ask why everyone was wearing paper flowers in their lapels.
posted by greycap at 2:17 PM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The train station announcement where they say "We are sorry" is not an apology. It's a description.
posted by srboisvert at 2:20 PM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Someone once asked me for a lighter, so I apologized for not being a smoker and I have since considered picking up the habit just to not have that sorry feeling again."

I read that or a variation of it once, and I think this one's the winner.
posted by vidur at 2:38 PM on January 9, 2013


I'm not British, but I actually once thanked an ATM. And in the wrong language too...

I haven't yet thanked an ATM but the other day, whilst using one, I found the following going through my head:

"Now to put my PIN number into the ATM machine. Ha ha! I bet that's exactly what stupid people think."
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:48 PM on January 9, 2013


My boss said something about a PIN number the other day and I gave him a look of such smug, superior revulsion that he actually hung his head and made a sad little noise.
posted by elizardbits at 2:53 PM on January 9, 2013


Though it's not an acronym, I will always love that the La Brea Tar Pits translates to "the The Tar Tar Pits"

but if you say the Rio Grande River I will kill you filthy
posted by nicebookrack at 3:01 PM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it was Neil DeGrasse Tyson on twitter that pointed out that the baseball team from Anaheim's name is effectively "The The Angels Angels"
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:27 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is much funnier and cleverer than the First World Problems meme, which almost immediately got tedious unless you're 12 or something
posted by Bwithh at 8:26 PM on January 9, 2013


Here, from the film The Great Escape, is a perfect example of a British Problem: when you really shouldn't say "Thank you" to a politely offered "Good luck".
posted by Hogshead at 5:34 AM on January 10, 2013


It's come to my attention that some of my problems are somewhat British. Like how they have tea at my therapist's office on the way in from the waiting room and he offers me a cup, but I don't know if they have milk for the black tea or if the black tea they have is even acceptable, so I pick green, but then he grabs a mug and FILLS IT for me before I turn around and I'm like WAAAUUUUUUUGH NOOOOO in my head.
posted by clavicle at 5:49 AM on January 10, 2013


I've been a US citizen my entire life, yet only now found out that I am British. Sorry.
posted by orme at 7:36 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm neither here nor there on Marmite. I'd better keep quiet about it, though, given that I'm planning to apply for British nationality at some point.
posted by acb at 8:59 AM on January 10, 2013


the twitter feed just posted:

Getting locked into an "after you, I insist" battle of wills with a stranger

if guns are involved, we have called this a Canadian Standoff.
posted by bl1nk at 2:09 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Running out of tea is completely unthinkable. It would never happen in my house. And none of that dustings-off-the-floor crap either.
posted by RedEmma at 3:39 PM on January 10, 2013


God, reading these things makes me wonder if I wasn't somehow abducted from the UK at birth by people from Brunswick, GA.
posted by JHarris at 6:02 PM on January 10, 2013


Douglas Adams posted the best I have ever heard.
posted by bystander at 9:21 PM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Douglas Adams posted the best I have ever heard.

While nowhere near as good as Adams' story (what possibly could be?), I have my own version of a story like this.

I am incredibly bad at recognising faces, and pretty bad at recognising people generally. Most of my ability to recognise people is based on their voice, followed by a mix of haircut/mannerisms/clothing/gait. The upshot of this is that I'm very accustomed to meeting apparent strangers and working out who they are just after we start chatting. It's not that hard: most people who already know each other don't actually use names that much, and talking about the present instead of the past avoids most other pitfalls. I've spent most of my life practicing this skill, and think I mostly get away with it, at least until I get the cues I need to recognise them.

Anyway, one day about five years ago I was walking East along High Holborn to meet some friends, when I notice that I'm being looked at by a woman my age, who's walking toward me. Could be nothing, could be someone who I'm supposed to know, so I look away for a couple of seconds and look back: eye contact again. I slow down fractionally, look away, look back with a slight smile: she's still looking at me, has slowed slightly, and is smiling in recognition. We repeat this pattern together, until we're standing face to face, grinning at each other, about a foot apart. In silence.

About ten seconds pass, which doesn't sound like much but I swear I felt most of an ice age slide past. I offer "Hey, it's great to see you again!" and the conversation gets rolling. It is indeed far too long since we last saw each other, life is going well for us both since university, I'm studying X subject in the Y institute, her new job is in Z bank, and my girlfriend ("of course, how is she?") is having fun up north. All the while, I'm wracking my brain to place her: she could be the roommate of a friend of mine from undergrad, the accent, build and haircut are about right. After a few minutes of catching up, I realise that I'm running late to meet my friends, make my excuses ("yes, send me an email, we should meet up properly!") and carry on up the street. Replaying the conversation in my head to convince myself that it really was Michelle, it dawns on me that in the entire conversation, neither of us mentioned our own or each other's names, anyone else's name from the past that we might both know, or from which uni we know each other.

To this day, I have no idea whether I spent a few pleasant minutes catching up with my university friend's old roommate, or if some woman who's bad with faces has spent the last few years telling her friends exactly the same story, about some guy she couldn't quite recognise, who she met when walking West along High Holborn.
posted by metaBugs at 10:19 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


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