8 British Inside Jokes Americans Will Never Understand

"What are you doing today?"  "Train-spotting" "No, really?"   (AP Photo/Christine Nesbitt)

It’s nice day for some train-spotting. (Christine Nesbitt/AP)

We Brits rarely blow our own national trumpet. But if pushed we will admit to having a wicked sense of humor. Foreigners have every right to be perplexed by the stuff we riff on—from gingers to horse meat.

Train-spotters
The term refers to the anorak-wearing British men folk (and it is nearly always males) who chose to spend their free time standing by the side of railway tracks waiting for trains to go by. When this happens, they scribble down the engine’s make and model number in a little book. It’s thrilling stuff. Anyhow, in Britain the term “train-spotter” has evolved to mean “super-nerd” and we use it liberally.

Essex
Some Americans will know this one because they watch The Only Way is Essex, a.k.a. TOWIE, on Hulu. But anyone else will need it explaining why, exactly, Brits give the folks from this particular home county such a hard time. Essex residents, we’ve decided, are shallow, slutty and they wear a lot of fake tan. Tell any curious Americans to think of Essex as Britain’s New Jersey equivalent and they’ll get the idea.

England always losing on penalties
Fans of England’s national football team just know that, not only will we be knocked out of any major international tournament, but it’ll happen on penalties. I think we’re actually quite pleased when this happens, because we were proved right. Which for Brits is often more important than winning. It’s our national sense of fatalism that’s the joke here. Example: when England was knocked out of the World Cup by Portugal on penalties in 2006, the BBC cut straight to “Numb” by the Pet Shop Boys.

“As the actress said to the bishop”
We’ll very often follow an innocent innuendo with this stock punchline. For instance, one Brit says to another: “I need to get my hands on some sausage meat. Ooh, as the actress said to the bishop!” To anyone not in the know, it’s impenetrably peculiar. (“Which actress? What bishop?”) Brits might be interested to note that the American equivalent is, apparently, “That’s what she said.” When The Office was remade for the U.S., the writers had Michael Scott say, “That’s what she said” in place of David Brent’s frequent actress/bishop usage.

Gingers
It’s generous to classify this as a British gag because, let’s be honest, it’s borderline bullying on a national scale. But redhead ribbing simply won’t die out in the U.K. This is bizarre to Americans, who revere the flame-haired. Read all about our national obsession with poor ol’ gingers here.

The excuses used by train companies
Locomotive lateness is a national joke in Britain. We particularly enjoy the corporate justifications issued over the fuzzy intercom when trains turn up hours after their timetabled slot, or are simply cancelled. Favorites include “It’s the wrong type of snow” (no one knows what this means, and we’re too afraid to ask) and “There were leaves on the line.”

Horse meat scandal
When the news broke last year that some major supermarket’s ready meals contained minced equine instead of the advertised cow, we quickly moved from revulsion to hilarity. Now, it’s still considered fair game to refer to any and all ground meat product with a horse reference.

Eurovision
This annual parade of Euro pop is cherished by Brits. Unlike the rest of Europe, we don’t take the competition seriously. We watch mostly for the so-bad-they’re-good entries, and the comedy voting. Eastern block countries only ever award top marks to their best mate, even if they entered a donkey in full national dress, with scantily clad donkey backing singers. We also cherish the fact that Britain will never win. Britain could enter Led Zeppelin and still come joint 29th with Serbia.

See more:
8 American Sports Idioms Brits Won’t Understand
Coming to America: 10 Everyday Phrases Brits Need to Know
10 British Insults Americans Won’t Understand

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis
  • Rin

    Gingers don’t do any better in the US, they still get teased mercilessly.

    • MontanaRed

      Quibbling… Not always… No one teased my dad who had red hair of a deep, vivid hue (he was also 6’2″, which might have had something to do with it)… And no one has teased me (strawberry blonde), my daughter (auburn), or my niece (true redhead), either. Red hair is a cause for pride for our family.

      • expatmum

        And I’ve never seen a running TV skit about Gingers either (ie. as in the Katherine Tate show.)

        • MontanaRed

          Exactly. Adorable, red-haired tots are a favorite of casting directors for adverts and sitcoms in the US, too. Whole different attitude towards gingers here.

          • SMStauffer

            I don’t recall ever having been teased as an adult by adults — as a kid by kids was a different story.

          • happybana

            I don’t get teased as much anymore, but I do still frequently get a lot of questions about my pubic hair. Also, although I get a lot less flack as an adult, the 18 years of constant belittling and bullying I experienced during school have somewhat tinted my personality. Didn’t make me hate my hair though. I still think it’s about the best thing about me physically, rivaled only by my big booty. The times I’ve dyed my hair were mostly out of laziness – you don’t have to shower near as much when your hair is black or magenta.

        • Sean Bigbabyjesus Ronan

          What about multiple episodes of South Park that state that Gingers have no souls? This is a recurring theme that returns every time a redhaired character is shown on screen.

          I love my red hair now, but I was MERCILESSLY picked on my entire childhood.

          • expatmum

            Ironically I have always wanted a red tint in my hair but the only time I tried it went pink!

          • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

            Funny, I die the red out of my hair. I would kill for your Nordic blonde!

          • happybana

            “Chucky” didn’t help either.

        • Dana

          Although Catherine Tate’s a ginger herself. I rather think she was making fun of all the Brits who make fun of gingers.

    • Irené Colthurst

      Do you know any redheads (the term which is more common in American English) who are teased in the US? Because if anything, I’d say there’s a tendency to find them sexy over here.

      • Claire Olson

        Just to clarify, “gingers” in the US are called so because they are born with the red hair color. “Redheads” are those whose hair is more red, most likely dyed (I dye my hair a natural deep red and I’m referred to as a redhead). As far as your question goes, I’m American, and gingers get teased in a nice way, not malevolently, and many people do find gingers and redheads alike quite sexy.

        • rocketjnyc

          Hmmm, Claire, where did you come up with this reasoning? I’m 50-years-old and have never heard a redhead called a “Ginger” in this country until recently. My MIL who is 76 has always used the term redhead whether referring to natural or dyed-haired people and I can point out vintage beauty advice that suggests “redheads” (not “gingers), avoid wearing pink and wear orange lipstick.

          • Remain Anon

            My grandmother favored “Coral” shades ;)

          • happybana

            Where I’m from (grew up in Southeast Indiana), gingers are natural redheads and redhead is anyone with red hair, natural or otherwise. There are also the more crude terms for a natural redhead you may be more familiar with, mentioned in another post of mine below.

          • Parmenter

            We actually use the term “strawberry-blonde” for ginger, and redhead for auburn. But we are picking up ginger thanks to Harry Potter and the Doctor.

        • Remain Anon

          I am from the US and I have never heard a redhead referred to as a Ginger in the US unless it is by Brit.

          • happybana

            I have been called a ginger, comet-head, and fire-crotch my entire life (way before the recent explosion of brit-humor and the ginger episode of SouthPark).

          • Sean Bigbabyjesus Ronan

            That’s pretty strange. It’s fairly common in the NY/NJ area where I live and grew up, as well as every where I’ve ever traveld on both coasts (haven’t spent much time in the landlocked states). I referenced it here before, but ever since the South Park “Ginger Kids” episode (2005) it’s pretty ubiquitous.

        • happybana

          I’m a ginger. We are not mostly teased in a nice way, as illustrated by the 3 hours I spent consoling a guy a few days ago after notifying him he was a bit ginger, and getting more ginger every day. Also, as illustrated by my childhood and teenage years, when I was both mocked, bullied, roughed-up, and sexualized to an extent none of my blonde or brunette friends ever were. I can’t count the number of times I was told I was crazy, “fiesty,” soulless, a witch, and “untrustworthy” because of my hair color.

        • Dana

          Nope… American here, grew up here, and a redhead is a redhead, born that way or out of a bottle, doesn’t matter.

        • SMStauffer

          Just to clarify, we are not. 57 year old redhead and never heard “ginger” in the U.S. for anything except a spice until Harry Potter too off.

          And was teased mercilessly as a child and young adult, because I have the freckles to go with the hair. “Freckle-face strawberry,” “Torch,” “Carrot top,” “Tomato head” — and those are the ones I remember.

          And then there was the socially-challenged young man in college who told me, “Redheads don’t usually look good in green, but you look all right, I guess,” and then got mad because I did not thank him for the compliment.

          • happybana

            Don’t forget tampon. That’s one of my favorites.

          • SMStauffer

            Not in my day. Or at least, no one dared to say it to me.

          • happybana

            Haha, it only happened once. A face full of very sharp, strong fingernails kept that very clever boy from repeating his offense. (I was small in about every way until my 20s, I had to do what I had to do. Sometimes violence is the answer.)

      • puppetDoug

        Only the boys get teased. The ladies are generally considered desirable. Actually, there’s a strange tendency to consider ginger males as bullies, so a bit of the reverse of the UK view.

        • happybana

          Where I grew up, a red-haired guy would mostly be thought of as inherently awkward, nerdy, and gawky unless his physique was especially brawny. Us girls were expected to be angry, scrappy, over-sexed soul-eaters.

        • SMStauffer

          “Desirable” meaning sexualized and harassed. But that didn’t start until high school in the 70s.

          • puppetDoug

            A lot of that I’m sure by ginger males, if they’re anything like my friends who treat all redhead girls like “fake geek girls” and try to find out if they’re natural. If so, they are then obsessed. So weird. Also, guys in general are stupid.

          • SMStauffer

            Hardly, as the only redheaded male I knew was my cousin. Nope – you norms will have to accept the blame.

      • Alexandra

        I get teased all the time by a friend of mine for being “ginger” but that’s just Ingrid (who’s definitely not British but most definitely Puerto Rican). But that’s what you get for dying your hair a weird burgundy color ONE time, I suppose.

      • TrenchCoatGallifreyan

        That’s news to me…

      • Keela

        Yes. I AM an American redhead and I have been teased my entire life. People assume any time I’m upset that it’s just part of some uncontrollable redhead side effect. And if you think the “gingers eat souls” jokes aren’t teasing, ask a ginger sometime. Yes, there are those who prefer redheads. My husband is one, but for 44 years it’s made me a freak outsider or something to ogle.

        • Dana

          I’m curious what part of the U.S. you’re from. I grew up mostly in the South and I never heard anyone make fun of a redhead. Also lived in Missouri and Washington state for a few years (Navy brat here), didn’t hear it there either. I had some red-headed friends, too, and was always considered a nerd, so I would have heard the teasing if it were on offer.

          • happybana

            You may not notice it because you aren’t one. Sort of like a lot of white people think racism doesn’t exist anymore (note: I am not comparing gingerism to racism, I’m only saying it’s easy to not notice people having a hard time if you aren’t having the hard time yourself).

          • rose1957

            It’s comparable — at least to some extent. If you’re a natural redhead, it’s because of your genes and beyond your purview to change (at least naturally). You shouldn’t be bullied for your skin color, your eye color, or your hair color.

          • happybana

            Agreed, but to my knowledge I’ve never been denied employment or civil rights due to my hair color, so I can’t exactly compare it really. Any discrimination I’ve faced has been entirely related to my social life, and was largely during k-12. Mostly, as an adult, the jokes are a bit less severe and it’s mostly just sexualization (which most women deal with) and jokes about my lack of a soul (which doesn’t really bother me, as I’m an atheist and don’t think anyone has one).

            Also, a lot of people’s grandparents tell them not to trust redheads, so that kind of hangs over my head a little…but mostly, as an adult, it’s old scars and feeling a bit weird, animalistic, and objectified.

          • http://www.iname.com/ Nathan Flatus

            What about the aphorism of being neglected or mistreated as being “treated like a red-headed stepchild?”

          • SMStauffer

            Well, Utah, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, California . . . also in a military family.

          • lafox

            Arkansas here. I’m honestly astounded that so many people haven’t heard redheads being called gingers. I hear it ALL the time, and I’m not even a redhead. Everyone refers to them as soulless and firecrotches. Or leprechauns if they happen to also be short. Maybe its dependant upon the generation you grew up in, but I’ve heard it my entire life.

        • happybana

          I often still feel like another species.

        • SMStauffer

          Oh, God, yes. I’d forgotten that — our anger is never, ever taken seriously. And as a woman, if it’s not being blamed on PMS or menopause, it’s blamed on the hair color.

      • Parmenter

        Right, that changed since my childhood. But if that is so in the UK, why does the Dr. want to be ginger, and why was Pond?

        • SMStauffer

          I think Harry Potter is changing it over there.

    • Brittany

      I have red hair, and live in the US, and I don’t get teased…

    • C.H.

      Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger. – Tim Minchin

    • Carrie

      Growing up with red hair in the US was not easy, I must have been the only student because I definitely stood out to the other students in my school. Sort of an American, Anne Shirley. ;) Combine that with our fair complexion, freckles, etc and it made a difference as a child. As an adult, I’m fine with it and very proud of my red haired children.

    • nic

      I have two ginger boys and wherever we go here in the U.S all we here about is their “beautiful red hair” so I’d have to disagree with you on this :)

      • SMStauffer

        Other kids or other adults? I’d bet it’s adults.

        Ask the boys what other kids say to them.

    • Beowulf

      You really must be American…
      They aren’t ‘teased’ in the UK, that whole red-head hate is a North American thing. Most likely caused by some extent by South Park.

    • Lanus

      depends on what part of the US, as well. I used to love to go barhopping in Boston with my lovely ginger friend, we got free drinks at just about every Irish-American pub in town. And, it should be noted, redheads aren’t exactly in short supply in Beantown!

      • expatmum

        Nice to see someone saying “it depends..” rather than “Well, I’ve never heard that so the author is incorrect”. A lot of people comment that “you can’t generalize” but equally, you can’t insist that someone else is wrong or something isn’t true just because you’ve never experienced it.

  • Troy Lenze

    And the rest of the joke is Brits can’t count? (As in, I seem to be missing the other 7 inside jokes.)

    • Arthur H Johnson

      I tried a couple different browsers blaming it on Chrome. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

      • Brenda

        I’m using Torch browser and it’s working ok for me.

    • Remain Anon

      FireFox didn’t work either…

      • Remain Anon

        Looks like they fixed it.. working in Chrome now.

        • Troy Lenze

          Huh. I use Chrome, and it is still not working for me.

          • Spotted Feather

            Doesn’t work in Chrome or Firefox.

          • Austin Syers

            Working on Chrome for me.

    • Patrick Kniesler

      I think you Brits can’t count how many times you’ve won Eurovision, either…

      BTW what happened in 2006? Krampus won?

  • Joseph Lobosco

    Where are the other seven? This article

    stops at train spotting?

  • Barry V. Evans

    Is one of the jokes saying there are 8 things you’re presenting and then only offering 1, because I definitely don’t get that one!

  • Mike Jackson

    Can’t see anything after the bit explaining that the trainspotters write down make and mode. Which hardly seems like a joke, more a statement of fact. Must be a glitch in the Matrix?

  • Editrix

    Only see one, and apparently I’m not alone. Not the first BBCA quiz fail I’ve experienced, either!

  • Laura Hanjoglu-Goerke

    can you please show DR WHO online the next day after broadcast for us poor souls who do not get BBC America

    • Dana

      It’s offered on Amazon (yes, the American site) not long after broadcast. Yes, you have to buy it per episode (though it’s cheaper if you get the season on TV Pass), but you’d have to pay for it if you had BBC America.

  • Trekkie Gal

    I had to read this in IE *gag* to be able to see all 8.
    For the record, there ARE train-spotters in the US also.

    • happybana

      Especially on the East Coast.

    • Cyn2

      There are also planespotters, usually found at the major airports. The LAX theme building usually has a few on the roof.

    • pak

      For the record, train-spotters here in the US are called “Foamers”
      “A term railroad employees use to describe a railroad
      enthusiast / railfan and the railfan community at large. Most often used
      disparagingly.”

  • sherjami

    For those of you who can see nothing after train-spotting, here is the rest:

    Essex
    Some Americans will know this one because they watch The Only Way is Essex, a.k.a. TOWIE, on Hulu. But anyone else will need it explaining why, exactly, Brits give the folks from this particular home county such a hard time. Essex residents, we’ve decided, are shallow, slutty and they wear a lot of fake tan. Tell any curious Americans to think of Essex as Britain’s New Jersey equivalent and they’ll get the idea.

    England always losing on penalties
    Fans of England’s national football team just know that, not only will we be knocked out of any major international tournament, but it’ll happen on penalties. I think we’re actually quite pleased when this happens, because we were proved right. Which for Brits is often more important than winning. It’s our national sense of fatalism that’s the joke here. Example: when England was knocked out of the World Cup by Portugal on penalties in 2006, the BBC cut straight to “Numb” by the Pet Shop Boys.

    “As the actress said to the bishop”
    We’ll very often follow an innocent innuendo with this stock punchline. For instance, one Brit says to another: “I need to get my hands on some sausage meat. Ooh, as the actress said to the bishop!” To anyone not in the know, it’s impenetrably peculiar. (“Which actress? What bishop?”) Brits might be interested to note that the American equivalent is, apparently, “That’s what shesaid.” When The Office was remade for the U.S., the writers had Michael Scott say, “That’s what she said” in place of David Brent’s frequent actress/bishop usage.

    Gingers
    It’s generous to classify this as a British gag because, let’s be honest, it’s borderline bullying on a national scale. But redhead ribbing simply won’t die out in the U.K. This is bizarre to Americans, who revere the flame-haired. Read all about our national obsession with poor ol’ gingers here.

    The excuses used by train companies
    Locomotive lateness is a national joke in Britain. We particularly enjoy the corporate justifications issued over the fuzzy intercom when trains turn up hours after their timetabled slot, or are simply cancelled. Favorites include “It’s the wrong type of snow” (no one knows what this means, and we’re too afraid to ask) and “There were leaves on the line.”

    Horse meat scandal
    When the news broke last year that some major supermarket’s ready meals contained minced equine instead of the advertised cow, we quickly moved from revulsion to hilarity. Now, it’s still considered fair game to refer to any and all ground meat product with a horse reference.

    Eurovision
    This annual parade of Euro pop is cherished by Brits. Unlike the rest of Europe, we don’t take the competition seriously. We watch mostly for the so-bad-they’re-good entries, and the comedy voting. Eastern block countries only ever award top marks to their best mate, even if they entered a donkey in full national dress, with scantily clad donkey backing singers. We also cherish the fact that Britain will never win. Britain could enter Led Zeppelin and still come joint 29th with Serbia.

  • Jeremy Wessel

    “The excuses used by train companies” – reminds of the classic sitcom ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’. The train was 11 minutes late everyday, always for a different reason.

  • Kari Reynolds
  • Dana

    I hadn’t heard the phrase “as the actress said to the bishop” before, but my brain immediately went to “that’s what she said” as I was reading about it. :)

  • Dana

    Another one we don’t get is “anorak-wearing.” I mean, I understand you mean “nerdy,” but not why it’s nerdy. Clearly more study is needed. Oh noes. :)

    • http://frustratedpilot.livejournal.com/ Stephen R. Bierce

      Supersmart/nerdy/awkward DOCTOR WHO companion Adric had an anorak as part of his costume. Probably wasn’t even the original source.

    • expatmum

      There really isn’t a US equivalent especially in the fall/winter since everyone wears them. In the UK, where, most of the time it’s really not that cold, it can be worn as an all-round coat. It’s quilted and padded, but not in a good way. Help me out Brits…..

  • Devon

    Uhm… [Unfortunately] we have national “kick a ginger day” which kids actually partake in. I don’t understand, have these people never heard of the US gingers don’t have souls “joke” or seen South Park ever?

    Personally, I think an attractive gingers are 10x the attractive of regular attractive.

    (US)

    • happybana

      Yeah…I really think the person who wrote this should have done a little more pop-culture research. We gingers have it pretty rough stateside.

  • jersey girl

    My brother was a train spotter when he was. about 12-13. I am sure there are lots of males who do this if they live near train lines.
    And sorry I am from New Jersey and we are not like Essex girls at all. That is a sweeping generalization. You must have watched the Sopranos too often!!! We are quite preppy where I live.
    I know the bit about the wrong kind of snow, leaves on the track, etc.. but I read the British news online. We have our own snow problems here but in general the trains do run!!! The Brits do not know how to cope with snow. I loved it the year they cancelled the buses n London because of snow!!
    I have never heard of redheads bring sexy and I know a few. And have watched the Eurovision program and it is pretty bad!!

  • Blondie

    Red-heads are not called Gingers in the U.S. except by teenagers or people who recently heard Brits using that term. But I would hardly say they are revered or considered desirable in the U.S.! You often see people posting that it’s “national kick-a-red-head day.” Patti who owns the Millionaire Matchmaker show hates red-heads and says 99% of people do not want to date a red-head.

    • frozen01

      I highly doubt that statistic. Then again I’ve never heard of Patti or Millionaire Matchmaker so what do I know *shrugs*

  • H Johns

    For thous that cant read the full piece…

    Train-spotters
    The term refers to the anorak-wearing British men folk (and it is nearly always males) who chose to spend their free time standing by the side of railway tracks waiting for trains to go by. When this happens, they scribble down the engine’s make and model number in a little book. It’s thrilling stuff. Anyhow, in Britain the term “train-spotter” has evolved to mean “super-nerd” and we use it liberally.

    Essex
    Some Americans will know this one because they watch The Only Way is Essex, a.k.a. TOWIE, on Hulu. But anyone else will need it explaining why, exactly, Brits give the folks from this particular home county such a hard time. Essex residents, we’ve decided, are shallow, slutty and they wear a lot of fake tan. Tell any curious Americans to think of Essex as Britain’s New Jersey equivalent and they’ll get the idea.

    England always losing on penalties
    Fans of England’s national football team just know that, not only will we be knocked out of any major international tournament, but it’ll happen on penalties. I think we’re actually quite pleased when this happens, because we were proved right. Which for Brits is often more important than winning. It’s our national sense of fatalism that’s the joke here. Example: when England was knocked out of the World Cup by Portugal on penalties in 2006, the BBC cut straight to “Numb” by the Pet Shop Boys.

    “As the actress said to the bishop”
    We’ll very often follow an innocent innuendo with this stock punchline. For instance, one Brit says to another: “I need to get my hands on some sausage meat. Ooh, as the actress said to the bishop!” To anyone not in the know, it’s impenetrably peculiar. (“Which actress? What bishop?”) Brits might be interested to note that the American equivalent is, apparently, “That’s what shesaid.” When The Office was remade for the U.S., the writers had Michael Scott say, “That’s what she said” in place of David Brent’s frequent actress/bishop usage.

    Gingers
    It’s generous to classify this as a British gag because, let’s be honest, it’s borderline bullying on a national scale. But redhead ribbing simply won’t die out in the U.K. This is bizarre to Americans, who revere the flame-haired. Read all about our national obsession with poor ol’ gingers here.

    The excuses used by train companies
    Locomotive lateness is a national joke in Britain. We particularly enjoy the corporate justifications issued over the fuzzy intercom when trains turn up hours after their timetabled slot, or are simply cancelled. Favorites include “It’s the wrong type of snow” (no one knows what this means, and we’re too afraid to ask) and “There were leaves on the line.”

    Horse meat scandal
    When the news broke last year that some major supermarket’s ready meals contained minced equine instead of the advertised cow, we quickly moved from revulsion to hilarity. Now, it’s still considered fair game to refer to any and all ground meat product with a horse reference.

    Eurovision
    This annual parade of Euro pop is cherished by Brits. Unlike the rest of Europe, we don’t take the competition seriously. We watch mostly for the so-bad-they’re-good entries, and the comedy voting. Eastern block countries only ever award top marks to their best mate, even if they entered a donkey in full national dress, with scantily clad donkey backing singers. We also cherish the fact that Britain will never win. Britain could enter Led Zeppelin and still come joint 29th with Serbia.

  • Xoana Costa Rivas

    I don’t think any country takes Eurovision seriously nowadays. Actually, a few years back, Chiquilicuatre represented Spain. He is a well-known comedian who presented a parody song to contest, and the audience voted him to represent their country – that clearly means they do not care about Eurovision at all, just look him up. And let’s not forget about the russian nanas in 2012. Clearly everyone just wants to have a little fun, and winning the contest doesn’t actually make you neither famous nor prestigious.

    • expatmum

      We never took it seriously. OK, perhaps when Abba won. (I was little but I remember). It was obvious when they did that song that it was good. Little did we know how far they’d go.
      These days, it’s a cheese fest but a beloved one.

  • PK

    “It’s the wrong type of snow” is from the early 90s, when all the trains came to a standstill for an inch or two of snow just a year or so after a massively expensive rehauling that was supposed to keep the trains running in–you guessed it–snow. BR’s press release claimed that the problem was that the latest storm had resulted in “the wrong kind of snow” for the system. We all had a laugh over that one.

    • expatmum

      And then there was the “Wrong kind of leaves” when the wet leaves on the tracks caused problems. Oh my, that caused a laugh.

  • rose1957

    I don’t get the ginger hatred, whether it’s based on the whole Viking invaders or some long forgotten superstition. In America, red hair is highly desirable. Heck, I pay good money to get my hair just the right shade of fire!

    • happybana

      It’s not long-forgotten everywhere. Where I grew up an alarming number of people still believed in witches.

  • Cory

    Essex is awesome.

  • Diguitr

    I grew up in Essex County New Jersey. Interesting…

  • SeaLaughing

    To join the “Are gingers the object of teasing?” debate: in my experience, they are. The one that got really old fast was “Is it red all over?” (Correct responce: “You’ll never know!”) My mom used to call me ‘carrot top’ when I was little, and it always confused me because carrot tops are green!

  • Juli

    Hey!!! Im from new jersey and i can tell you, i do not know a single person who uses fake tan. Stupid ‘Jersey Shore’ gives our state a bad rep

  • Lisa Venezia Giannotti

    Firstly, there are 7 things here, not 8. Secondly, we have trainspotters and ginger jokes. Thirdly, unless your residents of Essex are extremely wealthy and/or multicultural, they’re nothing like New Jersey (which also has an Essex County). You can keep the horse meat lol

  • Rniche

    I now understand Baby Spice’s joke on Spice World!

  • Angie Poole

    I can also vouch for being teased in America for my red hair, and being asked if the carpet matches the drapes (by total strangers). I take a lot of flack with my coworkers for stealing souls and so forth, but it’s a joking thing as an adult. It was completely hurtful as a kid, though. I’m in my 30s, so this is not a new trend.

    • Ian Bertram

      The British version of carpet and drapes is ‘Do the collar and cuffs match’ – it would be seen as rude to say this though. I think Sean Connery used it in one of the Bond films

    • Sheila Carty

      Why do men feel like they can say awful, sleazy things to redheads? I’m not attractive by any stretch, but still had complete strangers walk up and say the lewdest things when my hair was red! Even old men would tell tales of every redhead they ever knew! Ugh!

  • Lorene Gilleland

    But the Eurovision Song Contest is not the sme without Terry Wogan.

  • Tyler

    Hey, Serbia won Eurovision in 2008! My great great grandma was Serbian. Not that cool to claim that ethnicity in America though after the Kosovo thing.

  • Brenda

    But what about Gordon Bennett? I’ve read who he was but I still just don’t get it.

  • kdramas1

    UK won in 1967, 1969 (in a four way tie), 1976, 1981, 1997, but you haven’t won in a while. Most of the winners in later years were either Scandinavian or Eastern European.
    Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, and Spain seemed to win a lot in the earlier years.

  • jumbybird

    I get most of those, and I understand why Led Zeppelin wouldn’t win.. they’re crap, their music sounds like noise, much like the Stones.

  • Terry

    Brits don’t “blow their national trumpets”? Maybe, but I still notice a sphincter-tightening when an American house band plays “The Battle of New Orleans” in the presence of British military men.

  • Ian Bertram

    The thing about ginger tends not to apply to the rich auburn colour – especially females, where it is usually seen as sensual and desirable. It tends to be directed at the carrot coloured. Strawberry blonde isn’t ginger here – it’s the pinky blonde colour.

    I don’t recall it being an issue when I was growing up in the 1950s. It seems to be relatively modern as a term of abuse. I’ve never come across the idea that ginger people have no souls. That seems to be something peculiar to the US – but then the UK is much more of a secular society than the US, which is strange given the lack of separation of church and state here.

  • dm10003

    Americans are also not familiar with Coca-Cola’s Dasani water factory scam in London.

  • GemmaSeymour

    A. We’re quite familiar with trainspotting, here. Perhaps it is less noticeable when your country is this large, but we have our railfans.

    B. Losing on penalties is also familiar to any fan of the US Soccer Women’s National Team, since that’s how we lost the last FIFA World Cup to Nadeshiko.

    C. Excuses used by train companies. Most Americans don’t ride trains, and thus never hear excuses for them.

    D. We have our own jokes about horsemeat. Some of them are even about Britain.

  • Denise

    I always thought that the term ginger came from Gilligan’s Island because the character Ginger was a redhead.

  • Michael Schosser

    google train watchers and you will find that there are just as many in the U.S. plus a bunch of youtube videos. if you search Plaistow trains you’ll find a combination from both sides of the pond.

  • Steve Waclo

    “Tell any curious Americans to think of Essex as Britain’s New Jersey equivalent and they’ll get the idea.”

    That’s a terrible thing to say about Essex

  • Piper

    Since when does America revere gingers? My entire 33 years of life in California, at least, it’s always been a joke that they were evil. That red hair is hellfire bursting out from their heads, be careful with that one, you know how crazy they can be! Etc.

  • Marli

    South Park watchers are equally ungenerous to gingers. They have no souls, you know.

  • Marie Shanahan

    Too funny. :) Now I know what a “train watcher” is. Like the American “Vegetable.” Very sad to see mostly British ire against America these days. Hope that when Obama is done insulting the heck out our *family* there, we get a President with better taste LOL and we can go back to being family and partners – as we always have been.

  • Guest

    Wait, wait, ISRAEL? Isn’t that in the middle east, which is part of Asia?

  • tommyk

    Redheads in america are uncommon enough to be teased for it. Humans insist on sameness in almost everything… being differant only works if you are lucky enough to be rich and famous, ie..a rock star, maybe a comedian, but it is few and far and a crap shoot to boot. We pretend we want to admire and celebrate diversity..but the truth is most are afraid of anything but 100% complicity and conformity in everything..not only boring, but dangerous. We preach how important it is to be your own person, not to follow the crowd, just because etc..but when it comes down to it that is a lie..a big one..accounts for racism, bigotry, and oppression. Not pretty..but pretending it is no more than the butt of a joke keeps the hipocracy alive and the “bullies”comfortable!