Have you met the Queen?” – OK. Let’s get this one out of the way first. I actually HAVE met Queen Elizabeth II. She was the guest of honour when my secondary school celebrated its 400th anniversary.
However, asking any other English native this question would be somewhat clichéd. It’s going on the notion that Britain is a tiny island, and therefore has a small population where everybody knows each other.
The 68 million people who live there would tend to dispute this.
“Why do all English people have tattoos?” - …WHAT? Admittedly, this question was asked by a 14 year old kid, but what the hell was going through his head at the time?
I was wearing shorts one summer, as one would. A student of mine noticed my huge leg tattoo of ‘Purgatori – The Vampire Goddess’. So naturally he assumed I was a walking representation of English appearance.
Here is a list of English people who don’t have tattoos:
Prince William, Theresa May, my friend Daryl, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, any children that live there and MILLIONS of others.
“Do you drink lots of tea?” – No more than any other beverage that I like the taste of. This stereotype does have some basis to it. In the 17th Century the British Empire started large-scale production and commercialization of tea in India and ultimately popularized it. However, nowadays Russians are more obsessed with tea than even the Brits. On numerous occasions I’ve been a guest at someone’s house, and they’ve had 5 to 10 different varieties of tea on offer. You don’t really get that in standard households in England.
“Is it always foggy in England?” – No. But London WAS foggy during the times of Charles Dickens. And because his works are taught in literature classes all over the world, many people irrationally assume that his 19th Century descriptions of London are still relevant today.
“Did you play baseball at school?” – Yes, but we used cricket bats and called it cricket.
“Is it always cold in Russia?” – NO! YOU IDIOT! Have you ever looked at a map?! The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world. It covers one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land. It borders countries like Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. It has 11 time zones. How could every part of Russia possibly be cold all the time?
“Are you a Communist?” – A question outdated by almost 30 years. The Communist Party (now known as the CPRF) still exists in Russia but it has less than 200,000 members nationwide in a country with a population of 144 million people. They are largely irrelevant in the current political landscape of Russia.
“Well, are you Russian or English?” – Neither … or both … I’m not sure. I have spent many years in both countries, and I honestly don’t feel at home in either of them. I was never accepted by the English because of my name, and I will never fully be accepted by Russians because of my accent. However, I don’t see this as a problem. Nothing is expected of me. I am not constricted by any traditions and always have an excuse to justify my unorthodox mentality and strange behaviour. If anything – I have it easier than most people.