Monday, 25 January 2016

The Eccentric Englishman

I read a news article about David Bowie last week in which he was described as the perfect example of an eccentric Englishman.

And that got me thinking (which is always a dangerous thing).

It’s well known that we, as a nation, are considered a little weird by our European cousins, and, dare I say, by the rest of the world. Eccentricity is in our genes and we express ourselves in bizarre ways.

If you don’t believe me, here are two examples.

First, we have gurning competitions.  Are you wondering what gurning is? It’s basically pulling a funny face and we have competitions throughout the country.

(Cheeky) people have suggested that I could win the World Gurning Championship with very little effort whatsoever.

Second, we have Morris Dancing. I used to work with a Morris Dancer and she turned up to a fancy dress party, clad in her full regalia, whereupon, after a couple of glasses of wine, she stunned us all by performing a solo Morris Dance in the middle of a crowded room, with lots of applause, mainly because we appreciated the eccentric nature of her display. She was passionate about her art, so passionate that she eventually married a fellow Morris Dancer. I wasn’t invited to the wedding but I can imagine that the entertainment would have involved bells, waving hankies and shaking sticks.

Here’s an example of Morris Dancing:

Strange, isn’t it?

There are more examples of British weirdness, such as cheese rolling and bog snorkelling that may make any foreigner wonder whether we are all slightly unhinged.

While the whole world has produced eccentrics, I feel that we have more than our fair share.

We have people like Paloma Faith, Noel Fielding, Eddie Izzard,  Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Fry, Brian Blessed  and, though it pains me to say it, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson could be a future Prime Minister - God help us all!

Brian Blessed - "GORDON'S ALIVE!!!"

Eddie Izzard - Very funny and very surreal

Noel Fielding in one of his more sensible moments

Ozzy will soon have a frog in his throat.

Paloma Faith? Eccentric? HA HA HA!!

Stephen Fry - A man so intelligent it makes the rest of us look totally thick!

Of course, there are honorary foreign eccentrics worth a mention too, like Björk and Lady Gaga but I like to think that these people are also outrageous, something that we Englishmen are a little reluctant to be (with the possible exception of Ozzy Osbourne).

To be honest, when you look at the royal family, and the upper classes there are many weird people mingling in those big houses and palaces.

Possibly my favourite is Prince Phillip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, a man who constantly makes us cringe with his ill-considered outbursts. Political correctness isn’t one of his strong point.

"Have I embarrassed you again, my dear?"
Here are some of the things he has said:

(To a Scottish driving instructor) “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough for them to get them through the test?”

(To a 13 year old boy while visiting the Space Shuttle) “Well, you’ll never fly in it. You’re too fat to be an astronaut.”

(To a female sea cadet) “Do you work in a strip club?”

(To a Kenyan woman) “You are a woman, aren’t you?”

Eccentricity is a Scottish trait too as I discovered last Saturday when I attended a Burns Ball. That sounds a lot ruder than it is – I will reveal all in my next post.

I’ll leave you with a song by Paloma Faith that I actually like (much to Mrs PM’s utter shock):


joeh said...

I think the English have a way of delivering their eccentricity with a prim and proper demeanor that always catches the rest of us off guard, I love the English sense of humor.

River said...

I don't know about any eccentric people downunder, but we do have the annual Tuna Toss happening down in Port Lincoln, South Australia and the camel races in Alice Springs.
Eddie Izzard looks very much like a girl I used to work with.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Joeh,

I think a lot of foreign people think they know what English people are like - and then we surprise them.

yes - we have a wicked (and sometimes disturbing) sense of humour.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

The Tuna toss sounds intriguing. In many ways, you Aussies are like us. For example, Tim Minchin is a little eccentric.

Eddie Izzard was (or possibly still is) a transvestite - so I'm not surprised.