How to be a Brit: A George Mikes Minibus Paperback – 24 Apr 1986
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In all the miseries which plague mankind, there is hardly anything better than such radiant humour as is given to you. Everyone must laugh with you - even those who are hit with your little arrows. (Albert Einstein to George Mikes)
An instant classic (Francis Wheen on 'How to Be an Alien')
Very funny (The Economist)
Bill Bryson is George Mikes' love-child (Jeremy Paxman)
This is the vital textbook for Brits, would-be Brits, and anyone who wonders what being a Brit really means. Pass me my hot water bottle, please (Dame Esther Rantzen)
Wise and witty (William Cook on 'How to Be an Alien' Spectator)
Brilliantly comical (Pico Iyer on 'How to Be an Alien' New York Times)
Mikes is a master of the laconic yet slippery put-down: "The trouble with tea is that originally it was quite a good drink" (Henry Hitchings)
I love it and read it cover to cover. Also has good tips for talking about the weather, not that we need them (Rachel Johnson)
Full of the very best advice that any would-be Brit should need (and for those of us who have forgotten exactly how it is to be ourselves) it's a jolly good read (The Telegraph)
How to be an Alien inspired me ... Some of his observations remain remarkably fresh and relevant 70 years later, but it's his tone that impressed me (Erin Moore, author of That's Not English) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
George Mikes (pronounced 'me-cash'), was born in Hungary 1912. In 1938 he moved to London to become the correspondent for a Hungarian newspaper, and then he never left. A keen observer of the behaviour and misbehaviour of foreigners and natives in Britain, he is frequently cited by later authors including Kate Fox and Jeremy Paxman. He died in London in 1987.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book deals beautifully with our penchant for queuing and talking about the weather. It includes such phrases as "a bit blowy" meaning there's a howling gale raging outside. There's also the story of the ageing siblings who get together after 10 years of separation: their conversation is probably too accurately described: it's awful really but there you are, that's us for you.
This book reminds me a lot of the Henry Root letters in many ways and if it were ever revealed that Henry root and George Mikes were one and the same person, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised.
So, if you're into reading all about who we are and what we are, this book is a must.
It is very ambitious in scope. In fact this edition is excellent value because it combines several smaller books.
When I say it is ambitious, I mean it doesn't just tell you how to adopt English mannerisms. It even tells you how to build an English town. George Mikes believed that English towns were devised according to a devious set of rules in order to confuse foreigners. He has managed to obtain these rules and has published them so that other nations can build a little piece of England everywhere.
One particular rule is very cunning and I think the Ministry has been very strict in adhering to it throughout the country, but particularly in Devon, where I live:
"Street names should be painted clearly and distinctly on large boards. Then hide these boards carefully."
There are many more nuggets of gold like this.
George Mikes' observations on the British way of life is quite extraordinary considering he was born and brought up in an Eastern European country. His writings are full of anecdotes of the British mannerisms. I would highly recommend this little gem to anyone considering a visit to our shores for the first time, some of the observations appear a bit dated as this book was primarily written many years ago but that shouldn't detract from the quality of the read.......highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Written in 50's/60's context. It's well done and funny in an old fashioned sort of way but not the hilarious read I was hoping.Published 1 day ago by Mr Clive Goodman
Excellent present for Australian friends who don't seem to get our sense of humour.Published 1 month ago by Pxxie
Loved the book, absolutely hilarious, was giggling the whole time I read it. The chapter about how to build an English town got me in tears out of laughter.Published 3 months ago by Lyerra
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