The long good-bye – it’s an English thing

According to social anthropologist Kate Fox, author of Watching the English – The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, her fellow Brits are awkward, hasty and uneasy at introductions (as touched on in my previous post). But, she says, “partings, as if to compensate, are often tediously prolonged.”

Ever been in on one of these? “Good-bye … yes, good-bye then … thank you … it was nothing … well, we’ll be off then … we must have lunch … I’ll send you that file by email … do you have your salad bowl? No? Let me wash it …” And on it goes. On. And on.

Everyone, Kate says, wants it all to end, but it would be rude to act that way, “… so everyone must make a great show of being reluctant to part. Even when the final final final good-byes have been said… a window is often wound down to allow a few more parting words.”

Children are indoctrinated with these dilatory tactics from an early age: “Say goodbye to Granny now. And what do we say? We say thank you Granny…and say bye-bye to Pickles… come on now, wave bye-bye.”

Now that I know this is a studied-and-proven anthropological truth, all kinds of things are falling into place!

Check out this book for more on the importance of not being earnest, pub rules, the Marks and Spencer test and the use of ‘come of it’. Of note to me is the author’s analysis of who-reads-what-newspaper. Hint: The Guardian reader is a bit left wing or as she puts it, “a woolly, lefty, politically correct, knit-your-own-tofu sort of person.”

A great read!


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