It’s kind of ok being British, you know. We don’t get a lot of good weather, but we enjoy moaning about it and that gets us by. So here are some British stereotypes and their ideal moments from the master of all things British: Sherlock Holmes.
1. Saying You’re Sorry
Even if you don’t mean it or it’s not your fault. ALWAYS apologise. Especially if you’re threatening someone’s life:
‘I am sorry to cut off your view, Mr. Melas,’ said he. ‘The fact is that I have no intention that you should see what the place is to which we are driving. It might possibly be inconvenient to me if you could find your way there again.’ – The Greek Interpreter
2. Drinking Tea
It’s an essential British quality. If you want to emulate our fair British heroes, Holmes and Watson, it’s a must.
Watson: ‘I had just finished my tea when [Holmes] returned, evidently in excellent spirits, swinging an old elastic sided boot in his hand. He chucked it down into a corner and helped himself to a cup of tea.’ – The Beryl Coronet
3. Talking About the Weather
In Britain, whatever the weather, you must act surprised and say things like, ‘It’s awfully wet/dry/warm/cold for this time of year, isn’t it?’ Bonus points if there’s a rainbow. Watson describes storms rather wonderfully.
‘It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional violence. All day the wind had screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life and to recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney’ – The Five Orange Pips
4. Maintaining a ‘Stiff Upper Lip’
It does not matter if your leg is about to fall off or if you’re drowning, don’t make a fuss and better yet, make a joke out of it. Holmes once beat up some country folk, ending up battered and bruised, but did he make a fuss? Of course not!
‘Holmes’s quiet day in the country had a singular termination, for he arrived at Baker Street late in the evening with a cut lip and a discoloured lump upon his forehead, besides a general air of dissipation which would have made his own person the fitting object of a Scotland Yard investigation. He was immensely tickled by his own adventures, and laughed heartily as he recounted them. “I get so little active exercise that it is always a treat,” said he. “You are aware that I have some proficiency in the good old British sport of boxing. Occasionally it is of service. To-day, for example, I should have come to very ignominious grief without it.”’ – The Solitary Cyclist
5. Having an Alcoholic Beverage
There’s no denying us Brits like a good drink. You never say no to a trip down the pub and you always go ‘just for one’ and end up having six. On your lunch break.
Even Holmes has his priorities straight:
Holmes: ‘”They drove away in different directions, and I went off to make my own arrangements.” “Which are?” “Some cold beef and a glass of beer,” he answered, ringing the bell.’ – A Scandal in Bohemia
6. (Ignoring) the British Countryside
For such a small island, we have an amazing range of beautiful views at our disposal that we like to ignore and/or moan about. Watson knows:
‘Rolling pasture lands curved upward on either side of us, and old gabled houses peeped out from amid the thick green foliage, but behind the peaceful and sunlit country-side there rose ever, dark against the evening sky, the long, gloomy curve of the moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills.’ – Hound of the Baskervilles
7. Loving the Royal Family
We Brits love having a royal family. Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, all of these events remind us that we get an extra day off work. It’s truly heart warming. Holmes wasn’t a big fan of the aristocracy, but he knew the benefits of a ‘secret’ powerful ally:
‘Sir James carried away both it and the precious saucer. As I was myself overdue, I went down with him into the street. A brougham was waiting for him. He sprang in, gave a hurried order to the cockaded coachman, and drove swiftly away. He flung his overcoat half out of the window to cover the armorial bearings upon the panel, but I had seen them in the glare of our fanlight none the less. I gasped with surprise. Then I turned back and ascended the stair to Holmes’s room. “I have found out who our client is,” I cried, bursting with my great news. “Why, Holmes, it is—” “It is a loyal friend and a chivalrous gentleman,” said Holmes, holding up a restraining hand. “Let that now and forever be enough for us.”’ – The Illustrious Client
8. Appreciating British Humour
It can be an acquired taste. We laugh especially hard when things aren’t funny and even cold, calculating Holmes liked to make a dark joke or two:
‘“The law cannot, as you say, touch you,” said Holmes, unlocking and throwing open the door, “yet there never was a man who deserved punishment more. If the young lady has a brother or a friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoulders. By Jove!” he continued, flushing up at the sight of the bitter sneer upon the man’s face, “it is not part of my duties to my client, but here’s a hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat myself to—” He took two swift steps to the whip, but before he could grasp it there was a wild clatter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy hall door banged, and from the window we could see Mr. James Windibank running at the top of his speed down the road. “There’s a cold-blooded scoundrel!” said Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down into his chair once more.’ – A Case of Identity