Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour - Kate Fox What have I learned? England runs on alcohol. When preformed by men all forms of social behaviour, like speech and clothing, are gay. Being middle class, and worse yet middle-middle class, is inescapably pathetic in every respect. People really do hang out in pubs unironically and 'upper class poor' isn't an oxymoron. Who knew?

At the same time, exotic as all this is, i'm not entirely convinced there is such a thing as a national character at all now. I'm from a country who's shorthand attributes are diametrically opposed to the English - intensely opinionated, direct, classless, warm, rude, familial, informal, etc. Nevertheless, talking about money is poor taste, interactions with service workers are self consciously awkward, bragging is obnoxious, and so on. I'm reasonably sure these are human universals and every culture attempts to peg the good implications to itself.

On the other hand...reading this book on a bus at 7 am, filled with loud, pushy religeous fanatics with no sense of private space (ie, your cross section of the Jerusalem population,) could occassionaly be wonderfully soothing. Something about the endless recursive indirectness, the quickly slightly stale humour, the ever so gently patronizing tone, quaint, delicate dullness and, well, general, Englishness of the thing, I suppose.