Where better to start seeing as I am one and I live in this pisspoor excuse of a country. Britain. Land of Shakespeare, haggis, and sheep. History. A rich and glorious Empire. Sitcoms. Beer. Casual violence. Excessive swearing. Shit fucking weather. Constant unnecessary apologising. The Nanny State. And a propensity that you "Musn't grumble", even when every conglomerate on the planet sets up here to charge its citizens more than any other country for exactly the same goods or services.
Britain is dull. Where once she was blossoming, buxom, exciting, vibrant, leading the world with rather large firm breasts pointing the way, Brittania now leads the world in looking haggard and floppy-chested, drinking gin in the corner of the pub and trying to forget that she once ruled a vast Empire. (Although I would like to add in a pathetic has-been sense that 'Our' Empire was the greatest the world has ever seen if territory has anything to do with it: 1/4 of the Earth's land surface owned, run, and sponged off for Her Royal Majesty's gain. Nice.)
Of course, and for the benefit of Americans (more of whom later), Britain now comprises of in no particular order 1. England, 2. Scotland, 3. Wales, 4. Northern Ireland. Prior to 1922, No.4 in this list was all of Ireland, until the locals sobered up enough to want it back. Britain is merely shorthand for 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. Thus, 'Britain', 'Great Britain', and 'The UK' are one and the same. England & Scotland are but 2 out of 4 elements of the whole UK.
Anyway, let's break this down....
1. The English.
The strange thing about the English is that they fall into one of two camps; A. The monied, upper-class landed gentry, who drink and swear rather too much albeit in a somewhat charming way. And B. The shaven-haired, tatooed football hooligans who drink and swear rather too much and, erm, that's it. And that's just the women. Yet the strange thing is, England owes its success to these two groups, or rather, B's willingness to take orders from A, and nick other people's countries. And of course, if you watch Great British Cinema (?), you would notice a depiction of a land 100% populated by those whinnying group A inbreds. Incidentally, I must warn any tourists about to visit my country for the first time that if you're expecting gentility, good manners, pinstipes and umbrellas, you're in for a collosal fucking shock.
I should also add that many of these visitors (particularly from Arizona) are rather surprised at a country they assumed to be resolutely WASP to actually be so, well, ethnic. I like to think of it as the Empire striking back. Our national dish is no longer fish and chips. It's officially curry. And damn right too as it's bloody lovely and by far the best thing to come out of England.
Erm, hang on a minute...
So really, you should ignore my simplistic divisions of England as camp 'A' and camp 'B' (or just plain camp), as every race, creed, religion and nationality live here, mainly outside my front door in London.
2. The Scottish. They FUCKING HATE the English, and it's well documented that they all supported West Germany during the 1966 World Cup final with England, every last one of them, no exceptions. Ever. The bastards even seem to have more cultural icons than the English such as haggis, kilts, bagpipes, throwing enormous logs five feet in front of them, and Irn Bru. But fortunately with the Act of Union in 1707, all those items became 'British' meaning I could legitimately walk down Fifth Avenue in a kilt and feel vaguely validated. If a little gay.
Scots also have the least sense of irony in Britain. The best example of this is the 15 billion who actually live in London, shouting to all within a 3 mile radius how much they hate England and the English, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that they've only achieved this much wealth and success by hiding in the toilets of the Edinburgh to Euston express to get to the capital and seek their fortune.
3. The Welsh. Not technically a country but a Principality ruled by a Prince who is English, has huge ears, and is basically also Greek and German. Thus the Welsh hate the English too, but historically this is due to a series of battles which, like Scotland, were (largely) won by England. Oh, that and general invasion and subjudation, etc.
Like the Scottish, I'm actually quite fond of the Welsh but as an Englishman, they all hate me.
So I'm forced to hate them back.
The Welsh are also fond of a drink or two in their godforsaken valleys which, if they contain one Englishman speaking so much as a word of English, they all gather round to cover him in meths and set him on fire, before dancing naked round his burning torso and chanting guttural Welsh songs - which ironically produces so much phlegm that the fires are doused and the Englishman is free to escape before being raped by sheep. So I've heard. There is also this very tired joke pertaining to Welshmen and sheep. However, this stereotype is also attached to New Zealanders and probably Mexicans, so I won't bother mentioning that. Wales is also very beautiful, when seen from a pocket tv whilst sitting on a beach in Thailand.
4. The Northern Irish.
Growing up in 70s and 80s Britain, the Irish seemed to be the happy folk determined to kill us, or so I remember. The reality is more that the upper half of the Emerald Isle contains more folk of English and Scottish descent and therefore Protestant descent, than the Catholic south. As I understand it, when Ireland chose to leave by force the comforting racist bosom of Mother Britain, Northern Ireland chose to stay by virtue of these links, much to the chagrin of the minority northern Catholics who'd have rather become part of Ireland. Of course now, we have fun things like the condom-shunning Catholics scaring the Protestant majority into some kind of out-breeding. Northern Ireland is also one of the most rampantly nationalistically British places on Earth. If a Union Flag has racist overtones to the English, in Northern Ireland it's a symbol of pride in their roots. As well as flying it from their houses directly opposite the O'Flagherty's Irish flag festooned semi, I'm reliably informed that inside a Protestant Irish house, the union flag is used as a tablecloth, curtains, dishcloth and duvet. Maybe. Now's a good time however, to suggest to Irish Americans that this corner of Britain might quite possibly be a tad more British than, say, Hawaii is to America. Just a thought. The Northern Irish accent also seems to have developed from the soft Irish lilt into a gruff veiled threat. Especially when saying "I love you" (Oi luv yai-iiirrghhh). In fact, it sounds more like Klingon.
The British are famed for their manners. Barge in to people on Oxford Street and many will apologise for your knocking them over. This isn't actually overt politeness, but a natural reaction to avoid getting into fights. I do it all the time. It's drilled into you at birth.
We also allegedly drink lots of tea and have incredibly bad teeth. Like all stereotypes, this is absolutely and totally true.
Furthermore, in Newcastle the accent is so strong that close relatives can't even understand each other and have to speak Flemish.
Pros: Lots of interesting accents. Good beer. Great music. History in spades. Sarcasm. Comedy. Irony. Occasional manners. Kelly Brook.
Cons: The Birmingham accent. Carling. Sarcasm. Binge Drinking. Casual racism. Football hooliganism. Friday and Saturday night hooliganism. Domestic hooliganism. Carbon copy town centres. Dale Winton.