Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for Tradition

Tonight I am going to write about traditions or one British tradition in particular - the "stiff upper lip". Now if you don't know how the "stiff upper lip"tradition came about then let me explain:

When we are babies English tradition has it that we are left in our prams on promenades, piers or in our back gardens for a dose of good old sea air. (Apparently, it's good for the lungs and builds up a cast iron constitution.) Roughly, this tradition translates to 12 hours a day in the freezing cold with only a rubber teat for company and a flock of seagulls pooping on your pram. Indeed, I remember only too well those days spent looking forlornly out of my Silver Cross pram worrying if the seagulls were going to shit on me and yearning for my mother's breast.

(Okay, maybe a little dramatic licence there as I can't actually remember anything - I was practically mummified.)

Now this childhood induction into the great British "stiff upper lip" tradition lasts for about 3 years - or until such time you can undo your harness and scream "child abuse."

So that's how we English got a stiff upper lip - it started out because our lips were actually frozen solid.

Now, over the years, our reputation for having a stiff upper lip has spread throughout the world because other nations soon realised that there was no way they could ever defeat a country whose children were subjected to such hideous infant torture. And that, my friends, is why Hitler didn't invade England - as a man who had to keep his upper lip warm with a comedy moustache - he knew Germany could never match us Brits for resilience.

Anyway, bearing in mind this great English tradition for courage in the face of extreme adversity perhaps it's not surprising we were able to evacuate so many of our soldiers from Dunkirk with just a few sardine tins and a couple of upturned hats.

"I say Johnnie - there's a Stuka at 11 o'clock.  I'll cover you whilst you and the boys wade out in your wellies."

"Yes, Sir!  It'll be damn cold out there though, Sir!"

"Just bracing sea air, Johnnie. Perfect opportunity for an afternoon swim." 

"Yes, Sir!  Shall I tell the boys to swim the last two miles to Dover for some exercise, Sir?"

"Excellent idea, Johnnie. Don't forget to practice the synchronised swim routine too."

"Yes, Sir!"

"Right, heads down everyone! Brace your lips, I want to be back in Blighty for tea!"
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Yep, so that's the story of how we got our stiff upper lip.

Well... maybe. (Cough, cough)

4 comments:

  1. Ah, the stiff upper lip. I am a (very) big fan of British sensational literature --especially Golden Age mysteries and classic ghost stories (particularly those by M.R. James)-- and so the stiff upper lip is something I have heard about often. I like to think of all those British babies, staring sternly out to sea.
    Melanie Atherton Allen
    www.athertonsmagicvapour.com

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