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England


England is the largest and the richest country of Great Britain. The capital of England is London but there are other large industrial cities, such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and other famous and interesting cities such as York, Chester, Oxford and Cambridge.

Stonehenge is a one of the most famous prehistoric places in the world. This ancient circle of stones stands in South-west England. It measures 30 metres across and made with massive blocks of stone up to four metres high. Why it was built is a mystery.

Not far from Stonehenge stands Salisbury Cathedral. It is a splendid example of an English Gothic Cathedral; inside there is one of four copies of Magna Charta and the oldest clock in England.

Chester is very important town in the north-west of England. In the past it used to be a Roman fort; its name comes from the Latin word castra, meaning “fortified camp”. In Chester there is a famous museum which contains over 5000 ancient and modern toys.

Oxford is the home of the oldest university of England. The most famous college is Christ Church. It has a great hall which was build during the reign of Henry 8 and its chapel has become the Cathedral of Oxford. Cambridge is the capital of Britain’s second oldest university.

York was the capital of Northern England. It is one of the best preserved medieval cities of Europe. It was build by Romans, conquered by Anglo-Saxons and ruled by the Vikings. Birmingham is often called the “City of 1500 trades” because of the great variety of its industries.




Ways of Everyday Live

Very often when speaking of English traditions we think first of some curious theatrical ceremonies of the court* or parliament procedure. There come to our mind the medieval uniforms of the guards, the solemn cloaks and wigs of the judges or the top hats (bowlers) and the invariable umbrellas of the clerks of the London City.

But the word “tradition” does not mean only that. First and foremost “tradition” is the generally accepted made or way of living, acting, behaving of just doing things. There are many very good traditions of this kind in the everyday life of the English.



Everything is the Other Way Round

In England everything is the other way round. On Sunday on the Continent even the poorest person puts on his best suit, tries to look respectable, and at the same time the life of the country becomes gay and cheerful; in England even the richest peer or motor-car manufacturer dresses in some peculiar rags, does not shave, and the country becomes dull and dreary.

On the Continent there is one topic, which should be avoided – the weather; in England, if you do not repeat the phrase “Lovely day, isn’t it?” at least two hundred times a day, you are considered a bit dull. On the Continent Sunday papers appear on Monday; in England – a country of exotic oddities – they appear on Sunday.

On a continental bus approaching a request stop the conductor rings the bell if he wants his bus to go on without stopping; in England you ring the bell if you want the bus to stop. On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners.

On the Continent public orators try to learn to speak fluently and smoothly; in England they take a special course in Oxonian stuttering.

On the Continent learned person love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge; in England only uneducated people show off their knowledge, nobody quotes Latin or Greek authors in the course of a conversation, unless he has never read them.

Continental people are sensitive and touchy; the English take everything with an exquisite sense of humour – they are only offended if you tell them that they have no sense of humour.

People on the Continent either tell you the truth or lie; in England they hardly ever lie, but they would not – dream of telling you the truth.

Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game.



Lunch at 1 o’clock

Many foreigners are sometimes taken aback when they are faced with this typically English custom for the first time.

Whatever one is doing, no matter how important it is, or seems to be – a parliamentary debate or any kind of business routine – as soon as the clock strikes one everybody breaks for lunch.

The time from one to two o’clock is a “sacred” hour in England. And it appears to be not only good for health – having meals at regular times is certainly healthy – but it is very convenient socially as well. Everybody knows that there is no use trying to get in touch with some official, business executive or firm representative at this time. They won’t be in. it is no use no waste your time going from one shop to another at one o’clock sharp they will open. For punctuality is also one of the English traditions.

English Sunday

The so called Sunday Observance laws* prohibiting all kind of public entertainment on Sunday date back to the 17-18 century. The idea was to encourage people to go church and not to allow them “to profane the Lord’s Day” by amusing themselves.

Three hundred years have passed since then. Church services are attended by fewer people now than some decades ago. But the old custom of having a quiet Sunday is still alive. This is another English tradition preserved by law.

On Sunday you may visit a museum or go to a concert but all shops, theatres, dance and music halls are closed. This is rather illogical when compared with the unrestricted variety programmes on radio and television or the fact that one can always go to the bingo-club to enjoy himself or to the cinema to see a “thriller” or the latest American “hit”.

Pubs* and restaurants are open only from 12 to 2, and from 5 to 10 p.m. The police are very strict and do not hesitate to withdraw the licence from the proprietors who disregard closing time.




English Tea

The trouble with the tea is that originally is was quite a good drink. So a group of the most eminent British scientists put their heads together, and made complicated biological experiments to find a way of spoiling it. To eternal glory of British science their labour bore fruit. They suggested that if you do not drink it clear, or with lemon or rum and sugar, but pour a few drops of cold milk into it, and no sugar at all, the desired object is achieved. Once this refreshing, aromatic, oriental beverage was successfully transformed into colorless and tasteless gargling-water*, it suddenly became the national drink of Great Britain and Ireland – still retaining, indeed usurping, the high-sounding title of tea.

There are some occasions when you must not refuse a cup of tea, otherwise you are judged an exotic and barbarous bird without any hope of ever being able to take your place in civilized society.

If you are invited to an English home, at five o’clock in the morning you get a cup of tea. It is either brought in by a heartily smiling hostes or an almost malevolently silent maid. When you are disturbed in your sweetest morning sleep you must not say: “Madame (or Mabel), I think you are a cruel, spiteful and malignant person who deserved to be shot.” On the contrary, you have to declare with your best five o’clock smile: “Thank you so much. I do adore a cup of early morning tea, especially early in the morning.” If they live you alone with the liquid, you may pour it down the washbasin.

Than you have tea for breakfast; then you have tea at eleven o’clock in the morning; then after lunch; then you have tea for tea; then for supper; and again at eleven o’clock at night. You mast not refuse any additional cups of tea under the following circumstances: is it is hot; if it is cold; if you are tired; if anybody thinks that you might be tired; if you are nervous; if you are gay; before you go out; if you have just returned home; if you feel like it; if you do not feel like it; if you have had no tea for some time; if you have just had a cup…



Fireplaces

In English homes, the fireplace has always been, until recent times, the natural center of interest in a room. People may like to sit at a window on a summer day, but for many months of the year prefer to sit round the fire and watch the dancing flames.

In the Middle Ages the fireplaces in the halls of large castles were very wide. Only wood was burnt, and large logs were carted in from the forests, and supported as they burnt, on metal bars. Such wide fireplaces may still be seen in old inns, and in some of them there are even seats inside the fireplace.

Elizabethan fireplaces often had carved stone or woodwork over the fireplace, reaching to the ceiling. There were sometimes columns on each side of the fireplace. In the 18th century, place was often provided over the fireplace for a painting or mirror.

When coal fires became common, fireplaces became much smaller. Grates were used to hold the coal. Above the fireplace there was usually a shelf on which there was often a clock, and perhaps framed photographs.



Pubs

Do you know what a pub is? The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines it as a public house or building where people go to drink and to meet their friends. English men like to get together in the pub in the evening. The usual opening hours for pubs are on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. On Sundays pubs may remain open for not more than 5 and a half hours.

Pubs usually have two drinking rooms called bars - the public and the sa­loon bar, which is more comfortable but more expensive. "Bar" also means the counter at which drinks are served.

Pubs serve alcoholic and other drinks and often light meals. The main drink served in pubs, is, of course, beer, light or dark. Light beer is usually called bit­ter. As for other kinds of alcohol, most pubs serve whisky, gin and wine. Beer is always sold in pint or half-pint glasses. A pint is equivalent to 0.57 liter No alcoholic drinks may be served to young people under eighteen un­der British law.

In Great Britain today there are some 80,000 pubs situated in different cities, country towns, villages, and so on. Of London's 5.000 pubs some of the most interesting are right by the River Thames, downstream as well as up. Every English pub has its own sign and name. Some people refer to pub signs as a great open-air portrait gallery, which covers the whole country. But actually this gallery includes far more than portraits.

Some pub signs present different types of transport such as coaches, trams, ships, airplanes and even flying boards. There are signboards depicting animals, birds, fish as well as kings and queens, dukes and lords, sailors, soldiers, fat men and giants. A first class example of an heraldic pub sign is found near Leeds in

Yorkshire at Burley. The Butcher's Arms can be seen in Gloucestershire on a small typical English country pub near Sheepscombe.

At Cheltenham also in the same county you will see a sign showing the head of a horse, the name of the pub being Nags Head. At the vil­lage of Slad, also in Gloucestershire you can have a pint of lager in Woolpack and this pub sign shows a horse with two heavy packs of wool slung over it.

In Wales the most attractive sign in a number of pubs share the name of Market Tavern because all of them are on the pubs adjoining the market place.

In London the famous Sherlock Holmes pub with the big portrait of the famous detective smoking his favourite pipe attracts thousands of visitors to Northumberland Avenue.

History, geography, fairytales are kept alive by the name or sign of the "local" (the neighbourhood pub). As history is being made, so the owners of the pubs - usually the brew­ery companies - and individual publicans are quick to record it by new signs. Typical example is the "Sir Francis Chichester" named after the first man to sail alone around the world.

Not all British pubs have individual signboards, but a con­siderable effort is being made now to retain old signs. Jerome K. Jerome, the creator of the interna­tionally known book "Three Men In a Boat" over a hundred years ago re­vealed himself at probably his most authoritative intro matter or pubs. He clearly was a pub man and you can consider his famous book not only a guidebook to the Thames but as the first of those now familiar surveys of recommended places where to sleep, eat and enjoy beer. But in many pubs one can also enjoy some traditional pub games. There are darts, cards, skittles, coin games and various table games, of which playing darts is the oldest one.

Some of these games are difficult to find, as pubs have updated their amenities by offer­ing TV and video games, such as two-men tennis, fruit ma­chines, pinball machines, and so on. There are also other pub entertainments, such as piano playing, folk-singing, jazz performances and even theatres. However, if such table games as billiards or table football which are played with two or four players as well as cards, dominoes and coin games are known in this country, skittles and darts are less familiar.

Skittles is one of the oldest pub games and dates back to medieval England, the object of the game being to knock down as many skittles as possible with a wooden ball. This pub game has lots of varia­tions all over Britain. Darts is also an old game, ' which was played by the Pil­grims in 1620 when they sailed, from England to the New World. That is why it is well known in the USA, too. To play this game one must first of all have a standard dartboard with numbers marked on it to indi­cate score. The outer ring counts double, the middle one treble while at the very centre is the bull (50) with its own outer circle (25). Dart players should stand at least eight feet away from the board. The aim of the game is to score as quickly as possible with the least number, of throws. The actual score a player must get depends on the variety of game he is playing. Many pubs in Great Britain have their own darts teams. So, if you come to Britain drop in a pub, enjoy a pint of bitter and a "tongue sandwich, which speaks for itself”.

It sounds funny to foreigners but when it is closing time, the pub barman calls "Time!" or "Time, gentlemen, pleaser!”



English Habits of Politeness

Some greetings in England are very informal: a simple “good morning” or a wave of the hand across the street is quite enough. Handshakes are only exchanged on a first introduction or as a token of agreement or congratulation. “Sorry” takes the place of “no” when you cannot do something for a person or give a positive answer in situation like “May I use your pen?”, “Do you know the time?” or “Have you any size seven shoes?”. “Pardon” is the polite way of asking somebody to repeat what he has said.

English people do not readily ask each other to do anything, they prefer to wait for a service to be offered before asking for it. If they do ask, then they say something like “I don’t really like asking you, but…”

It is considered polite to give up one’s seat a woman who is standing, to open door for her, carry things for her, and so on.

Manners in Public

Our manners in public, like our manners in our homes, are based on self-respect and consideration for other people.

It is really surprising how stingy we are with our “Please” when we ask anyone to do something for us. We unwillingly part with our “Thank you”, as if it were the most difficult and costly thing in the world. We don’t stand aside for others to pass us in the trams, buses or the underground. We don’t rice to let people pass us to their seats in the theatres or movies.

1.Not to make yourself conspicuous, not to attract unfavourable attention to yourself or others, here are some of the rules for correct behaviour in a public place.

2.Not to be conspicuous, don’t wear conspicuous clothes.

3.One should not talk loud or laugh loud.

4.No matter how trying the circumstance, do not give way to anger or uncontrolled emotion.

5.Never eat anything in the street, or in a public place (restaurants, buffets and cafes excluded).

6.Do not rudely push your way through crowds.

7.Never stare at people or point at them.

8.Do not ridicule or comment on anyone in public.

9.Reserve “affectionate demonstration” (kissing, embracing, etc.) for appropriate places.

10.Don’t monopolise the sidewalk, by walking 3 or 4 abreast, or by stopping in the centre to speak with someone.

When in the street keep to the right.


British institutes

Parliament is the most important authority in Britain. Parliament first met in the 13th century. Britain does not have a written constitution, but a set of laws. In 1689 Mary II and William III became the first constitution monarchs. They could rule only with the support of the Parliament. Technically Parliament is made up of three parts: the Monarch, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The continuity of the English monarchy has been interrupted only once during the Cromwell republic. Succession to the throne is hereditary but only for Protestants in the direct line of descent. Formally the monarch has a number of roles. The monarch is expected to be politically neutral, and should not make political decisions. Nevertheless, the monarch still performs some important executive and legislative duties including opening and dissolving Parliament, singing bills passed by both Houses and fulfilling international duties as head of state. The present sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II who was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1953.

The House of Lords comprises about 1,200 peers. The house is presided over by the Lord Chancellor. The House of Lords has no real power but acts as an advisory council for the House of Commons. As well as having legislative functions, the Lords is the highest court of appeal.

The House of Commons consist of members of Parliament who are elected by the adult suffrage of the British people in general elections which are held at least every five years. The country is divided into 650 constituencies each of which elects one Member of Parliament. The Commons therefore, has 650 Members of Parliament. The party which wins the most seats forms the Government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister. The functions of Commons are registration and security of government activities. The house is presided over by the Speaker. The government party sits on the Speaker’s right while on his left sit the members of the Opposition.

Education in Britain

In England and Wales compulsory school begins at the age of five, but before that age children can go to a nursery school, also called play school. School in compulsory till the children are 16 years old.

In Primary School and First School children learn to read and write and the basis of arithmetic. In the higher classes of Primary School (or in Middle School) children learn geography, history, religion and, in some schools, a foreign language. Than children go to Secondary School.

When students are 16 years old they may take an exam in various subjects on order to have a qualification. These qualifications can be either G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary education) or “O level” (ordinary level). After that students can either leave school and start working or continue their studies in the same school as before. If they continue, when they are 18, they have to take further examinations which are necessary for getting into university or college.

Some parents choose private schools for their children. They are very expensive but considered to provide a better education and good job opportunities.

In England there are 47 universities, including the Open University which teaches via TV and radio, about 400 colleges and institutes of higher education. The oldest universities in England are Oxford and Cambridge. Generally, universities award two kinds of degrees: the Bachelor’s degree and the Master’s degree.

Cambridge

Cambridge is situated at a distance of 70 miles from London; the greater part of the town lies on the left bank of the river Cam crossed by several bridges.

Cambridge is one of the loveliest towns of England. It is very green presenting to a visitor a series of beautiful groupings of architecture, trees, gardens, lawns and bridges. The main building material is stone having a pinkish color which adds life and warms to the picture at all seasons of the year.

The dominating factor in Cambridge is University, a center of education and learning. Newton, Byron, Darwin, Rutherford and many other scientists and writers were educated at Cambridge. In Cambridge everything centers on the university and its Colleges, the eldest of which was founded in 1284. They are 27 in number. The college is a group of buildings forming a square with a green lawn in the center. An old tradition does not allow the students to walk on the grass, this is the privilege of professors and head-students only. There is another tradition which the students are to follow: after sunset they are not allowed to go out without wearing a black cap and a black cloak.

The University trains about 7.000 students. They study for 4 years, 3 teams a year. The long vacation lasts 3 months. They are trained by a tutor; each tutor has 10-12 students reading under his guidance. There is a close connection between the University and colleges, through they era separate in theory and practice.

A college is a place where you live no matter what profession you are trained for; so that students studying literature and those trained for physics belong to one and the same college. However the fact is that you are to be a member of a college in order to be a member of the University.

The students eat their meals in the college dining-hall. At some colleges there is a curious custom known as “sooncing”. If a should come late to dinner or not be correctly dressed or if he should break one of the little unwritten laws of behaviour, then the senior student present may order him to be “soonced”. The Butler brings in a large silver cup, known as “sconce cup”, filled with offender, who must drink it in one attempt without taking the cup from his lips. (It holds two and half pints). If he succeeds then the senior student pays for it, if not, the cup is passed round the table at the expense of the student who has been “sconced”. Now the origin of this custom.

Until 1954, undergraduates (students studying for the first degree) had to wear cloaks, called gowns, after dark, but now they are only obliged to wear them for dinner and some lectures. This tradition is disappearing, but one which is still upheld is that of punting on the Cam. It is a favorite summer pastime for students to take food, drink, guitars (or, alas, transistor radios) and girl friends on to a punt (a long, slim boat, rather like a gondola) and sail down the rive, trying very hard to forget about exams. Many students feel that they have not been christened into the University until they have fallen into the River Cam. This has almost become a tourist attraction.

Students also have an official excuse to “let themselves loose” once a year (usually in November) on Rag Day*.

On this day, hundreds of different schemes are thought up to collect money for charity, and it is not unusual to see students in the streets playing guitars, pianos, violins, singing, dancing, eating fire, fishing in drains for money, or even just lying in beds suspended over the street swinging a bucket for money to be thrown into.

On May 21st every year, Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge, honour the memory of their founder, Henry VI, who died very suddenly, and was almost certainly murdered, in the Tower of London on that day in 1471. he is generally supposed to have been killed whilst at prayer in the Oratory of the Wakefield Tower, and here, on the anniversary, the Ceremony of the lilies and Roses now takes place. Representatives of both colleges walk in procession with Beefeaters and the Chaplain of the Tower, and the short service is conducted by the latter, during which a player composed by Henry himself is said. A marble tablet in the in the Oratory marks the place where the King is believed to have died, and on each side of it flowers are laid - lilies from Eton bound with pale blue silk, and white roses from King’s College, bound with purple ribbon. They are left there for twenty-four hours, and then they are burnt.




Transport in Britain

You can reach England either by plane, by train, by car or by ship. The fastest way is by plane. London has three international airports: Heathrow, the largest, connected to the city by underground; Gatwick, south of London, with a frequent train service; Luton, the smallest, used for charter flights.

If you go to England by train or by car you have to cross the Channel. There is a frequent service of steamers and ferry-boats which connect the continent to the south-east of England.

People in Britain drive on the left and generally overtake on right. The speed limit is 0 miles per hour (50km/h) in towns and cities and 70 mph (110 km/h) on motorways.

When you are in London you can choose from different means of transport: bus, train, underground or taxi. The typical bus in London is a red double-decker. The first London bus started running between Paddington and the City in 1829. It carried 40 passengers and cost a shilling for six kms.

The next to arrive were the trains; now there are twelve railway stations in London. The world’s first underground line was opened between Baker St. and the City in 1863. Now there are ten underground lines and 273 underground is also called the Tube, because of the circular shape of its deep tunnels.



British Literature

Great Britain gave the world a lot of talented people. Many famous writers and poets were born in Great Britain.

One of the best known English playwrights was William Shakespeare. He draw ideas for his tragedies and comedies from the history of England and ancient Rome. Many experts consider Shakespeare the greatest writer and the greatest playwright in England language. William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays which may be divided into: comedies (such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream), tragedies (such as Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth) and historical plays (such as Richard II, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra).

Robert Burns represents the generation of Romantic writers. In his poems he described with love and understanding the simple life he knew. Among his well-known poems are Halloween, The Jolly Beggars, To a Mouse.

George Gordon Lord Byron. His free-spirited lie style combined with his poetic gift makes him one of the most famous figures of the Romantic Era. His famous works such as Stanzas to Augusta, The Prisoner of Chillon, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Manfred draw readers into the passion, humors and conviction of a poet whose life and work truly embodied the Romantic spirit.

Sir Walter Scott wrote the first examples of historical novel; Lewis Carroll became famous when he published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.



Places of Interest in Great Britain

Britain is rich in its historic places which link the present with the past.

The oldest part of London is Lud Hill, where the city was originated. About a mile west of it there is Westminster Palace, where the king lived and the Parliament met, and there is also Westminster Abbey, the coronation church.

Liverpool, the “city of ships”, is England’s second greatest port ranking after London. The most interesting sight in the Liverpool is the docks. They occupy a river frontage of seven miles. The University of Liverpool, established in 1903, is noted for its school of Tropical Medicine. And in the music world Liverpool is a well-known name, for it’s the town of “The Beatles”.

Stratford-on-Avon lies 93 miles north-west of London. Shakespeare was born here in1564, and here he died in 1616. Cambridge and Oxford Universities are famous centers of learning.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument, presumably build by Druids, members of an order of priests in ancient Britain. Tintagel Castle is King Arthur’s reputed birthplace. Canterbury is the seat of the Archbishop o Canterbury, head of the Church of England.

The British Museum is the largest and riches museum in the world. It was founded in 1753 and contains one of the world’s richest collections of antiquities. The Egyptian Galleries contain human and animal mummies. Some parts of Athens’ Parthenon are in the Greek section.

Madam Tussaud’s Museum is an exhibition of hundreds of life-size wax models of famous people of yesterday and today. The collection was started by Madam Tussaud, a French modeler in wax, in the 18 century. Here you can meet Marilyn Monroe, Elton John, Picasso, the Royal family, the Beatles and many others: writers, movie stars, singers, politicians, sportsmen, etc.



Sports in Great Britain

British people are very fond of sports. Sport is a part of their normal life. The two most popular games are football and cricket.

Football, also called soccer, is the most popular sport in the United Kingdom. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own Football Leagues and national teams. Games are played on Saturday afternoons from August to April. In addition to the FL games there is a competition called the Football Associations Cup. The Cup Final is played at Wembley Stadium(London) in May.

Cricket is considered to be the English National game. Its rules are very complicated. Two teams of eleven men each play it, the player at a time tries to hit ball with a bat.

Golf is the Scottish national game. It originated in the XV century and the most famous golf course in the world, known as a Royal and Ancient Club, is at St. Andrew’s.

Lawn tennis was first played in Britain in the late 19th century. The most famous British championship is Wimbledon, played annually during the last week of June and the fist week of July.

Those are the most popular kinds of sport in the UK. But there are many other sports such as rugby, golf, swimming, horse-racing and the traditional fox-hunting.


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