I was always interested what the typical English lifestyle could be.
I was twice in the UK but only for short time, it was not enough for such type of knowledge.
There are a lot of stereotypes about the English life in some books. However, they are not all right and mostly out of date.
I believe that this interview wirth Richard gives a lot of interestuing details about the typical English lifestyle.
In my opinion it can be interesting for all Enlish learners, that’s why I give here the loink to this interview:
I was always interested what the typical English lifestyle could be.
I think it’s kind of hard to generalise about a typical lifestyle - especially in modern Britain where the country has become somewhat fragmented along cultural, religious and economic lines.
Arguably there are now some virtual “solitudes” living alongside each other: the white working class, various ethnic minorities, various religious minorities, lower middle class, middle class and upper middle class, the elite class, the old aristocracy…and perhaps also some subgroups combining some of the above!
It would not necessarily be true to say that there is friction or strife between different groups, it is just that (in many cases) people may live very different lives and have very little voluntary social interaction with each other.
I think it’s certainly the case that the lifestyle, social habits, etc, of a “WASP” professional person would often be radically different from those of, let’s say, a second generation Pakistani immigrant and devout Muslim who is employed as a ticket collector! Equally, however, a white bus-driver may have very little in common with, say, an Indian professional person (a doctor, etc…) But then again, the white bus driver and his Pakistani co-worker might also not have much in common with each other out of working hours, quite honestly. So it’s actually quite complicated!
Then there is also quite a strong division between the rural set and the urban set - something which may also apply (perhaps in differing degrees) to all of the aforementioned groups. A working class person in the country (a farm worker, a gamekeeper, etc) would be very much more likely to have regular contact with an elite or aristocratic class person than would an urban working class person. But there would still be very limited social interactions out of working hours, probably… (Well, unless it’s Lady Chatterley that we’re talking about! :-D)
Going back 40 or 50 years or more, it may have been simpler. Then there were basically just the English class divisions: working class, middle class and upper crust. But even then it might have been hard to generalise too much about what was a typical lifestyle?
(But I think this is true - at least up to a point - about all countries. For example, if someone asked what the “typical Russian lifestyle” is…well…would there be any clear straightforward answer to that…?)
Jay, it’s a very good addition to my interview with Richard. By the way, he didn’t want to generilize as well, at least he said that the British life had changed a lot for 50 years and many streotypes of the typical English life didn’t work now.
The same can be said about the Russian life in spite of some living old traditions in our Russian life and of course in our national character.
Sad but true, long story short - British culture in 2015 is somewhat dead in the water. This question would have been a lot easier to answer 30-40 years ago, where economic separation was perhaps the only key element you would have needed to acknowledge when analysing daily British lifestyle.
This is such an interesting subject.
I grew up in the north west of London, till I was 15. The area I lived in was heavily populated by migrants, in my year group there were only 5 white people. Everyone was from an ethic background. The culture/lifestyle in my entire area seemed to revolve around religion, which ever that may have been for each person. I remember segregation, with each religion keeping to itself, but also with people of a certain country also keeping to themselves. This was very evident at break times at school, outside of school in parks, and presented itself in a lot of gang violence at the time. Each gang being based on the place your family came from. Each one of these groups had a very different culture based on imported family upbringings. I don’t think at this time I had a concept of British/English culture or lifestyle.
When I turned 15, my mum and dad decided the area had become intolerable, and moved 250 miles to the south west of England, to the county of Cornwall. This was the first time I think I experienced culture shock. People of all ages were skateboarding, surfing, drinking alcohol whilst walking around on beaches. No one cared about how much you earned or what brand you wore. Life didn’t evolve around family but meeting up with friends, hobbies, and just having a good time. This was a stark contrast to London, where what you wear, earn, and what you wanted to be seemed to be everything. It is perhaps worth noting, that Cornwall is 99% white British. However many of these people claim to be Cornish not British. Many have known each other’s families for generations. I lived the surfer’s lifestyle for a number of years.
Around 22, I decided I couldn’t stay. Life was too chilled out. I went to the University of Kent, based in Canterbury about 250 miles east of Cornwall. I think, this is where I experienced true multiculturalism. In Canterbury people did everything (sports, dinners, art galleries, invited other religions to religious festivals) everyone mixed with everyone and everyone seemed to dress really well, but without showing off branded clothes. It was very middle class in my opinion, it didn’t try to hide it. Canterbury was also a very progressive place, many protests, social justice movements, political groups could be found, Philosophy and Politics was debated in pubs and bars, perhaps owing to the 3 universities placed in this small city of just 200/300k people. I lived here for three years during my degree, afterwards I went back to Cornwall for so I could work out my next move. I’d picked up a slight accent, folk now thought I was one of those posh people, would ask if I went to school in Eton.
I now live in the South west of London, people drive expensive cars, most 2 bedroom houses are worth over a million. After being here for 4 months, I’m struggling to see a culture. People seem to go to work, finish, and then just go home. People seem exhausted from work and travel everyday, like they have no time for culture. I’ve been getting to know some people around my area, and life seems to evolve around having a few drinks on a Friday after work, or going to the occasional event that pops up here and there. There is a fair ground in central London at the moment called Winter Wonderland, this seems to be the highlight of the last few weeks for many people.
So there is my experience so far of lifestyle in this country. I’d like to say I have never lived above London, so I have no idea of the north. However from just living in the south, areas just 50 miles away have huge differences in lifestyle and culture. There is so much more detail too in the differences but then I’d just be typing forever, you get the gist.
It’s very interesting! Thank you indeed!
I guess there are many stereotypes regarding ‘the typical English lifestyle’, mostly perceived as per novels depicting the same. Speaking from personal experience, our typical English lifestyle is somewhat like this: Me, my husband and two kids live together in our small villa house in a city in the south west corner of England. There’s a courtyard-cum-garden-cum-vegetable patch at the back where the kids play in the evenings when it is not too cold, along with their neighborhood playmates (all the kids generally make a beeline towards our place to play since our garden is a wee bit bigger than the others in the area).
We’re modestly comfortable (that is to say, not ultra rich but comfortably well-off to satisfy our wants) like other families nearby. We have a computer and a tablet at home, plus of course mobile phones for the two of us (me and hubby). The elder daughter has been demanding one lately but her request is rightfully being turned down for the next couple of years.
Our usual day starts at about 6 am when I wake up and do my first chore of the day - putting the clothes in the washing machine, followed by the dryer. By this time, hubby is also up and he’s the one who gets the kids ready for school. Breakfast we make together - usually something quick and wholesome like bacon and eggs - before hubby leaves to drop the kids to school and then he’s off to work.
I mostly work out of home on freelancing projects so I can space out my day as I wish to a certain extent. I run errands through the day and intermittently work on my projects. Before setting out to pick up the kids around 3 pm, I whip up lunch. I drive down to their school which is about 4 km away and all the way back there’s continuous chattering - my favorite part of the day!
After lunch is time for a nap for the kids (and my afternoon siesta too). Once they wake up it’s the typical milk and cookies routine followed by some time spent online, usually on pet games like these which they love to play ( Site verification ). Their father comes in around 7 pm - he has a long day- and then it’s usually quality family time starting with board games and ending with storybook reading (this is an essential practice followed religiously on all days).
Dinner is usually more elaborate and depends on what the kids vote for, like yesterday we had fish fingers with chips and peas. Washing up after dinner is kids helping me while the husband watches the evening news on television. And then the kids are off to bed. Weekends are more relaxed and we generally go out somewhere, say a picnic, or the zoo or something. Otherwise it’s the usual lazing around at home and re-runs of some old all-time favorite flicks.
That’s about it… and I like the way we live. For us, it’s more of a close-knit family of sorts, where we’re both together as well as doing our own things. Given a chance, I wouldn’t change it for anything!
It’s a very interesting family story. But I’ve noticed the US-flag on your icon. Can you maybe compare two lifestyles: the American and the English lifestyles, or they are the same? And everything depends on the specific people, doesn’t it?
I like the British stereotype such as the Woody Allen’s film Scoop". Hugh Jackman and his family represent the British style of life. I recommend this film. Naturally, the stereotype is a joke with an artístic objective.
I didn’t listen to the audio but a lot of English people are socially awkward (not all, but proportionally quite a large percentage I’d say). We’re crippled by our worries about saying the wrong thing, we’re obsessed with being politically correct.
A lot of us are shy and I think that stems from school days where the culture is, or at least was when I was at school, to not step outside of what is seen as “normal.” As a kid (especially as a teenager) it can be social suicide to do anything other than try to “fit in” with social groups, mostly by pretending to enjoy activities, or the company of people you don’t really like. As an adult you become less worried about these things since you no longer have the pressure of your peers. Although it can happen in the workplace too (but probably to a lesser extent).
There are T.V shows like ‘The Office’ (created here in England) which is based on social awkwardness, as well as shows like ‘The Inbetweeners’ which I would say is the most accurate reflection of what it’s like to be of school age in England (and probably most of Britain), all the humour is based on the fear of being an outsider, a social reject, and how desperate English people are to ‘fit in’ and blend in amongst the populous, so as not to become a target. You’ll find a lot of self-deprecating humour here, it’s better to make fun of yourself before someone else does it for you.
If you compare the average American to the average Brit, I’d say we lack confidence in a massive way. Americans (so I’ve heard) are told they can be president, or be an astronaut, or whatever it is they aspire to be is achievable, In England, we’re told it’ll never happen. We’re told not to aim high, but to be realistic. If you say you’d like to be an astronaut you’d probably be ridiculed, or told how unlikely that is.
Again, this is a general rule (as I see it) there will be some Americans who aren’t confident and vice versa. Whenever I see Americans (especially young Americans) I’m always taken aback by how confident they appear, how much more they project their voice whilst speaking. If you observe enough British people speaking you’ll likely find that they don’t really open their mouths fully whilst doing so. Almost like they’re mumbling. I think this might be a confidence thing. I’ve heard it’s similar in Japanese culture.
You perhaps wouldn’t be able to understand the accents but there is another T.V show that was very popular here called ‘The Royale Family.’ (nothing to do with the royal family btw). It’s about a working class family who live in the north of England. It’s a comedy but it very accurately portrays what a typical British (working class) family is like. Most notably, the dad constantly tearing strips out of his own son, reducing him, piece by piece, to a shadow of the man he could otherwise have become.
To me, this is something that happens quite a lot in Britain, if you have aspirations to better yourself, your family and sometimes even your friends will do anything it takes to let you know you’re no better than they are. So for instance, I wouldn’t tell my dad that I’m learning a language because he wouldn’t understand, he’d likely just make fun of me because it’s something different, something he wouldn’t be brave enough to do perhaps. He wouldn’t be comfortable that I’m trying to change certain aspects of myself. This might be just me and my family but I don’t think it is, I think a lot of families behave this way.
I’ve just realised that i’m not really talking about the average British life but rather our psyche. But I think a lot of how we live can be traced back to this psyche. Perhaps there will be British people who don’t agree with me, but from what I’ve observed, and based on my own experiences, I think this is pretty accurate.
I also believe that the moral fabric in this country is slowly being degraded, a lot of our kids are left to do as they please, they have little discipline, and are pretty much allowed to do and say what they want. I’m not sure this was so only a few decades ago. You can take the London riots of 2011 as a clue as to how out of control some kids can be here. Parents are too soft on their children and as a consequence the kids don’t fear punishment for wrongdoings.
In my personal opinion there is a culture here of fending for oneself. Not only where kids are involved, but our elderly too. I heard that in places like Italy, and probably a lot of other places in the world, elders are respected, often as heads of the family. They’re cared for and looked after. Here, as one ages and becomes more dependent, they’re often shipped into homes, kind of like an out of sight, out of mind type thing. That sounds awful, but I think a lot of people here are guilty of it. They feel like they lead far to busy lives (whether that is true or not, I’m not so sure) to be caring for an elderly relative at home, and besides, since families break apart so early and often live far away from one another there aren’t enough family members around to care for an elderly family member. My own family is spread around England, so my aunties, uncles, grandparents (when alive) all lived in different towns/cities, which is quite typical I think.
As I’m learning Spanish, I’ve been hearing that in Spain, young people, historically, live with their families (in their childhood home) for a much longer period than they do here. We tend to move away from our families as soon as possible, and if you’re not out of your family home by at least your mid twenties you’re seen as a loser.
A lot of young people move away and become independent in their teens, whether it be to go to university, or they go and find a job. This isn’t quite as early since the financial crisis, but if they could, they would. There’s a strong desire to become independent here, and often from a very early age. I have my own theories as to why that is, namely that the average family here is often quite dysfunctional, family values aren’t observed so much anymore, for instance, things as basic as sitting down for a family meal are no longer part of family life in a lot of British households.
I don’t want to make it sound like Britain isn’t a nice place, or that we’re all cut from the same cloth though. There are a lot of great things about this country and I love being British, it’s probably one of the nicest places to live in the world (weather aside), but then I am biased.