Watching the English: ‘The hidden rules of English Behaviour’ – Book Review

Watching the English:  ‘The hidden rules of English Behaviour’
Author:  Kate Fox
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN:  0 340 81886 7 Bouma-Prediger

Book Review by  Rose Dowsett, OMF & Interserve.

This is not by a Christian author, and wasn’t written with the missionary world in mind.  But Kate Fox is immensely perceptive about all kinds of English cultural values, behaviours and oddities, mostly writing with gentle humour as she recognises the foibles in others in herself as well.

Most of us are familiar with books about other cultures, in an attempt to understand them better and to become more sensitive and more effective in cross-cultural ministry.  Watching the English is a good read for native British to help us see ourselves as others (probably) see us, and even to notice things that are normally invisible to us.

And it’s a good book to help those of other cultures navigate the tricky waters of surviving living in Britain, or alongside Brits overseas (so a shaft of explanatory light for those struggling to work alongside us in international missionary teams).

Watching the English falls into two main parts: part one – Conversation codes; part two – Behaviour codes.  The first covers everything from The Weather (our preoccupation with it mystifies most of the world) through humour to living with mobile phones.  The second part whizzes through how we behave in our own homes or other people’s, life in the workplace, food, drink, and sex… and more.  It’s 424 pages and small-ish print, so there’s plenty to get your teeth into, plenty to provoke lively discussion, lots to think about.  Dip into it, or read it straight through: it’s easy to read, and it has a helpful index if you want to cheat

Back to Issue 7

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