this is not your sawtooth wave (kineticfactory) wrote,
this is not your sawtooth wave

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Watching the English

Yesterday, whilst browsing in the Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill, I picked up a rather interesting book titled "Watching the English", by Kate Fox (she's an anthropologist, probably best known for essays on the unwritten rules of flirting in bars and such). Anyway, this book attempts to codify the unwritten rules of behaviour and social interaction in the English culture, in a professional, anthropological fashion.

So far, it's pretty fascinating. The book starts discussing the phenomenon of talking about the weather, identifying it as a social grooming ritual, going over the acceptable and unacceptable responses, the hierarchies of types of weather to be discussed, and also mentions the BBC's Shipping Forecast being a national ritual. Just from the subject of talking about the weather, she manages to get several tendencies, such as dislike for extremes, acceptance of eccentricity and social inhibition.

I skipped a bit further in the book, and a passage caught my eye arguing that the public mourning over Princess Diana's death, then decried as an "un-English" expression of sentiment, was characteristically English, in that there was very little wailing and no rending of clothes or melodrama, but rather a lot of orderly queueing.

I look forward to reading the rest of this book.

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