British cheerfulness

by Andrea Elizabeth

Searched for and oddly found in the same quote collection as last post’s.

Quote Originally Posted by Bill Bryson

And the British are so easy to please. It is the most extraordinary thing. They actually like their pleasures small. That is why so many of their treats – tea cakes, scones, crumpets, rock cakes, rich tea biscuits, fruit Shrewsbury- are so cautiously flavorful. They are the only people in the world who think of jam and currants as thrilling constituents of a pudding or cake. Offer them something genuinely tempting – a slice of gateau or a choice of chocolates from a box – and they will nearly always hesitate and begin to worry that it’s unwarranted and excessive, as if any pleasure beyond a very modest threshold is vaguely unseemly.
“Oh, I shouldn’t really,” they say.
“Oh, go on,” you prod encouragingly
“Well, just a small one then,” they say and dartingly take a small one, and then get a look as if they have just done something terribly devilish. All this is completely alien to the American mind. To an American the whole purpose of living, the one constant confirmation of continued existence, is to cram as much sensual pleasure as possible into one’s mouth more or less continuously. Gratification, instant and lavish, is a birthright. You may well say “Oh, I shouldn’t really” if someone tells you to take a deep breath.
I used to be puzzled by the curious attitude of the British to pleasure, and that tireless, dogged optimism of theirs that allowed them to attach an upbeat turn of phrase to the direst inadequacies – “Mustn’t grumble,” “It makes a change,” “You could do worse,” “It’s not much, but it’s cheap and cheerful,” “Well, it was quitenice” – but gradually I came around to their way of thinking and my life has never been happier.” 
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