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Lavinia

Lavinia

How to Be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils - George Mikes, Nicholas Bentley George Mikes was an alien. He wrote the book in 1946 to show the British how he felt about them. He is funny, rude and mocks them as often as possible. But somehow, though he didn't intend the book to be amusing, the English people read it and thought it was funny.


Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game.
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Continental people have sex life; the English have hot-water bottles.
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On the Continent, if people are waiting at a bus-stop they loiter around in a seemingly vague fashion. When the bus arrives, they make a dash for it; most of them leave by the bus and a lucky minority is taken away by an elegant black ambulance car. An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.
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It is easy to be rude on the Continent. You just shout and call people names of a zoological character.
In England rudeness has quite a different technique. If somebody tells you an obviously untrue story, on the Continent you would remark "You are a liar, Sir, and a rather dirty one at that." In England you just say "Oh, is that so?" Or "That's rather an unusual story, isn't it?"
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In the last century, when a wicked and unworthy subject annoyed the Sultan of Turkey or the Czar of Russia, he had his head cut off without much ceremony; but when the same happened in England, the monarch declared: "We are not amused"; and the whole British nation even now, a century later, is immensely proud of how rude their Queen was.
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A continental gentleman seeing a nice panorama may remark:
"This view reminds me of Ultrecht, where the peace treaty concluding the War of Spanish Succession was signed on the 11th April, 1713. The river there, however, recalls the Guadalquivir, which rises in the Sierra de Cazorla and flows south-west to the Atlantic Ocean and is 650 kilometres long. Oh rivers ... what did Pascal say about them? 'Les rivières sont les chemins qui marchent ...' "

This pompous, showing-off way of speaking is not permissible in England. The Englishman looking at the same view would remain silent for two or three hours and think about how to put his profound feelings into words. The he would remark:
"It's pretty, isn't it?"
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Always laugh at everybody's joke - but be careful to tell a joke from a serious and profound observation. Be polite in a teasing, nonchalant manner. Sneer at everything you are not intelligent enough to understand. You may flirt with anybody's wife, but respect the ties of illegitimate friendships - unless you have a really good opportunity which it would be such a pity to miss. Don't forget that well-pressed trousers, carefully knotted ties and silk shirts are the greatest of all human values. Never be sober after 6:30p.m.
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The verb to naturalise clearly proves what the british think of you. Before you are admitted to British citizenship you are not even considered a natural human being [...:] Note that before you obtain British citizenship, they simply doubt you are provided by nature.

If naturalised, remember these rules:

1. You must start eating porridge for breakfast and allege that you like it.
2. Speak English with your former compatriots. Deny that you know any foreign language (including your mother tongue). The knowledge of foreign languages is very un-English. A little French is permissible, but only with an atrocious accent.
3. Revise your library. Get rid of all foreign writers whether in the original or translated into English. The works of Dostoevsky should be replaced with a volume on English birds; the collected works of Proust by a book called "Interior Decoration in the Regency Period"; and Pascal's "Pensées" by the "Life and Thoughts of a Scottish Salmon."
4. Speaking of your new compatriots, always use the first person plural.