Mstation Book Reviews
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Sat, 28 Feb 2009

Watching the English

Kate Fox, Watching the English, Hodder

Ah, Hodder, or rather Hodder and Stoughton as it used to be before it was sold off to the Americans some years ago. It's actually fairly amazing just how much of British publishing disappeared. Gone are the clubby offices and three hour lunches. Quite sad in a way but Hodder has endeavoured to keep its brand alive - and that brand is about Englishness.

People love to read about their own national characteristics - Japanese, English, American, Australian, French amongst many others. It's an enjoyable sort of navel-gazing - "Oh yes, we are like that" *giggle*

And sometimes, in more class bound societies, some might use such books to get a few posh pointers. I wouldn't advise using this one though as it's quite often off the mark or oversimplified.

There's still lots of fun to be had for English people, and perhaps others as well. Kate Fox starts off with the vexatious question of different words for the same item ... which is made even more tricky by the habit of using the "wrong" one to be jokey. It's really best not to play this game at all (and most people don't) unless you were born to it.

There is much more than this though and quite a few giggles to be had and, perhaps, something useful to be learnt. And we can hope that the best of the traditions will somehow muddle through - like good manners. (Baron K)

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