I really wanted to like this book and to give it five stars - I love dip-in books that can be picked up and chuckled over again and again. Some of Iain Aitch's observations on the essential nature of Britishness are spot-on,("Other popular imperial measurements are the double-decker bus and the size of Wales") but others have a faint whiff of bigotry mixed with the satire that I found a little unsettling. The book describes itself as "The Real Citizenship Test," I had toyed with the idea of passing the book on to some Polish friends as a joke, but thought ... no,in its heavy use of irony, it's TOO British.
The book cross-references itself throughout, with the entry for Pot Noodle neatly linking to the Corner Shop for example. This could prove an interesting way of reading the book rather than the A-Z format- it would have been possible to have created more original categories, perhaps. However, the book does have a good index, though with a plethora of bogus facts inserted for joke purposes, would one really want to use this as a reference book?
I suspect that the male members of any household this book finds itself in will quietly spirit it away to the smallest room to take its place alongside the QI series, and others of that ilk. It should live quite happily there.
This is an A-Z format book which makes it ideal to have by the bed and dip in or out of. It gave me a few smiles but no belly laughs and doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact, if you feel the author has missed anything out, you can email him and he will include the best five in the paperback edition, which made me pay even more attention to the book.
Its certainly contemporary, containing amusing class conscious descriptions of how the posh love Harrods, the middle class love Habitat and for the rest, there is Argos! Its interesting to read about how a simple fried breakfast varies around the country from the basic bacon and eggs to the black pudding, square sausage slice and soda farls you have in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Although being Welsh, I can't say I have ever had laver bread with my bacon! I also found it a bit too flippant in places but I realise that's the general tone of the book, after all- its not a volume of history, although there is some history in it.
Overall, its a very affectionate book and it doesn't do any harm to count your blessings and think what a lovely, odd, unique sort of country we live in. A great gift book for ex pats or overseas relatives or anyone who loves Britain.
This book is the sort of thing that is good for dipping into when waiting for something to happen and so will find its natural place either next to the loo or in the dentist's waiting room. The other possibility is as use as a Christmas stocking filler (when the book will migrate to the "smallest room" anyway and you will be able to read it, if you wish, when visiting the person you gave it to!).
This is hardly great humour and is also nothing to wondered about too much: the British have been good in recent years in sending themselves up, but there is a certain self-congratulation about this. Whoever Mr Aitch is (obviously a nom-de-plume) we assume he (she?) is British and so are prepared to allow the gentle "digs" at our idiosyncrasies. Should he/she, however, turn out to be French then there is enough material for a major diplomatic incident.
Recommended as an impulse buy that you will want to pass on very quickly.
A somewhat irreverent look at everything British, or what defines the British, We're British, Innit is arranged alphabetically by subject and includes entries as diverse as Ants, Boudica, The Beatles, Harrods, Net Curtains, Queuing, Rhubarb and Grammar (errors of which can be found in the book). More entertaining or amusing than outright funny, it provides a pleasurable diversion; probable best taken in small doses.
It is far from a substantial book at a little over 200 pages, each encyclopaedic style entry on average occupying just over half a page of extravagantly line-spaced text. Also included is short quiz to test How British Are You, as well as an Index.
While this is clearly not the place to look for the facts, it does yet give a fairly good, if clichéd, overview of what makes the British so very British.
The curate's egg was good in parts and I couldn't better sum up this book than by using this description.
There are some genuinely laugh out loud items, quite a lot of them, in fact. Interestingly, most of these feature in the first half of the book. I did not find the second half nearly so funny.
However, the book is definitely worth dipping into and would be very useful to have with you on a journey if you needed to be constantly checking changing departure times and couldn't allow yourself to get too absorbed in what you were reading. It would be useful to read out loud to the members of your party in waiting rooms and departure lounges.
I do recommend this book as it will give some really good laughs. However, be warned, it isn't quite so funny as it thinks it is.