What is the most British thing ever?



Ahmet Haciyakup, History buff





They don't look much like castle remains, right? Not water towers, nor prisons…

These are called “folly towers” and there are hundreds of them scattered around British Isles. They serve absolutely no purpose. Maybe ornamentation. Then why built in the middle of nowhere… Probably just in the pursuit of utter pointlessness.



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  1. Another very British thing, with some help from Robert Craig.

That awesome idiosyncratic currency that was used prior to 15 February 1971:



  • Four farthings = one penny
  • 4个1/4便士=一便士
  • Twelve pence = one shilling
  • 12便士=一先令
  • Two shillings = one florin
  • 12先令=一盾
  • Five shillings = one crown
  • 5先令=一克朗
  • Twenty shillings = one pound
  • 12先令=1镑
  1. Measuring the world in a British sense (credits to David Minott, Donald Halls and Tony Vincent). You fellow SI units folks don’t understand those inches, miles, acres, gallons, pounds and other ungodly imperial units, right? Have a look at these:

3.英国的测量方式(都拜David Minott,Donald Halls 和 Tony Vincent所赐)。你们采用国际标准单位的人不懂我们这些英寸,英里,英亩,加仑,英镑和其他邪恶的帝国制单位,对吧?来看看这些:

  • The volume unit the firkin is one quarter of a beer barrel. And one firkin is 72 pints. Now, if it’s wine that you are holding, stop before boasting to your friends with that new knowledge, because the wine firkin is a different unit. And some other volume units are the tun, the butt, the kildirkin and the bloody hogshead!
  • 小桶:就是一个啤酒桶的1/4。一桶就是72品脱。再来,如果你手里拿的红酒,千万不要跟朋友吹嘘你get到的新知识,因为红酒桶又是一个不同的单位。还有一些其他体积单位如大桶,布特,豪格海大桶!!
  • Length. You might guess that it should be easier to measure than volume. But we are talking about British, don’t fool yourselves… A unit they have seen suitable for this is furlong, which was defined as the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. Yeah, great. Later it was standardised as 220 yards. And it is still used in, you guessed it: horse-racing;)
  • 长度单位。你也许会猜,这大概会比体积单位容易点吧。但是我们谈论的是英国,别阿Q了。比如有个单位叫弗隆,是用来形容一群牛不休息时能犁的地的长度。哇,好棒有没有。对了,它折算的标准长度是220码。现在仍在使用,你猜猜,对,赛马的时候。
  • Ask a British person about his/her weight and you will hear something like “13 stone”. Wait, what’s wrong with pounds? Because it would not sharpen your maths. Designating 14 pounds as 1 stone would do it. Heaven help foreign doctors in the UK…
  • 若你问英国人他/她的体重,你会听到比如13石这样的答案。等等,用磅有什么问题么?因为这样算锻炼不到你的数学能力。于是我们规定了14磅等于1石。老天啊,帮帮英国的留学博士吧。

oAlso, there’s the ounce. And when you think you learned enough weight units, comes a hundredweight. Finally, something in decimal fashion! Over my dead body, you bloody continental. One hundred weight is 112 pounds. On this island, we multiply by anything but 10.


  • On with the human body: shoe size. I’m sure everyone has seen things like “size 9″ on shoe tags next to your 44. These are UK and US shoe sizes which rely on a unit called the barleycorn, which is 1/3 of an inch (one inch was originally defined as “3 dry barley corns”) The largest shoe size is taken as twelve inches (a size 12) i.e. 30.5 cm, and smaller sizes are derived by counting backwards in barleycorn units, so a size 11 is 11.67 inches or 29.6 cm.
  • 现在来看看我们身上的单位:鞋码。我知道大家都在鞋子标签上的44码旁看见过9号的字样。这就是英国和美国鞋码的折算单位,也就是所谓的大麦粒,即1/3英寸(1英寸最早的定义就是3颗干燥大麦粒的长度)。最大的鞋码是12英寸(12号),30.5厘米长,而较小的号码则按大麦粒标准往前推算,所以11号就是11.67英寸或29.6厘米长。
  • Here’s a chart from Wikipedia for decrypting length units:
  • 这是维基百科对长度单位的解密:





Rich Manning, Technical Support (1989-present)

Without a doubt, the Tory politician Jacob Rees-Mogg.

毫无疑问,保守党政治家Jacob Rees-Mogg。


Unofficial Title: Ambassador to the 17th century.

Often used in games of Monopoly if the top hat is missing.

Named his sixth child “Sixtus”.

(Full name: Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher Rees-Mogg.)

His other childrens’ names are:






  • Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius
  • Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan
  • Peter Theodore Alphege
  • Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam
  • Mary Anne Charlotte Emma

He’s been a shareholder of The General Electric Company since the age of ten.

Claims to have read the Financial Times at the age of two.

When he was 12, he was interviewed by the BBC and said he liked to invest his money in antique silver.

He then invoiced the BBC £18 for the interview. When they didn’t reply, he sent increasingly angry letters demanding payment.






Luke Law, Professional at Great Britain (2002-present)

Whilst I can't put my finger on it, I can give an example of it taking place.

I was on the 93 bus to Putney station, and got on at a popular stop. It was one in the afternoon, so not rush hour but the bus was full and I sat next to a woman near the back.

Usually people alight at or the stop before Putney station, but for some reason the lady and I were the only two on the bus for the two stops after Putney Hill, a bus terminal.

And this is where the conundrum struck. We were the only two people sitting on the bus, yet we were sitting right next to each other. Neither of us could stay, as the situation was incredibly awkward, and God forbid us moving, as that would seem terribly rude, and would be made worse if we had to explain that it wasn't personal, so we suffered through two stops of embarrassment till I got off at the station.





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