Mrs Joyce Hoover's How Do You Do?: A Quick 'n' Easy Guide to Britain and the British

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9780952287056: Mrs Joyce Hoover's How Do You Do?: A Quick 'n' Easy Guide to Britain and the British

A gently satirical survey of contemporary Britain as seen through the rose-tinted spectacles of legendary Brighton hostess, Mrs Joyce Hoover. Mrs Hoover leads both the first-time visitor and the know-it-all resident on an exhilarating, high-speed tour of the enduring essentials of British life. Expect fish 'n' chips rather than tortilla wraps; milky tea rather than skinny lattes, and be prepared to stand for the national anthem. "How Do You Do?" celebrates such beacons of Britishness as the bulldog, the milkman, James Bond ("he may be ruthless, he may be promiscuous, he may destroy a great deal of expensive machinery, but at least he's been to a good school and speaks and dresses nicely"), and stoutly defends such endangered species as the pound, the pint and the high-fat pie. The author goes in search of that will o' the wisp, British national character, and firmly concludes - without the least bias or favour - that while class distinctions remain rigidly in place here ("thank goodness!"), what is common to us all is a deep-down niceness. But she can be stern, too, in her condemnation of aspects of contemporary life that 'let the side down': talking openly to the media about your problems with alcohol/ cosmetic surgery/wife-beating, for example. And in Mrs Hoover's Britain, sex (or 'you-know-what', as she prefers to call it) is far too openly and frequently discussed. She is the proud heir to inhibitions that go back hundreds of years and through which - she asserts - "we British were able to build and govern an empire that stretched right around the world and make so many Major Contributions to World Civilisation". At the same time, "How Do You Do?" is not afraid to engage with issues of concern for Brits today. Building on recent healthy eating campaigns, Mrs Hoover ups the government's famous 'five a day' to a super-fit eight a day, which includes only the tastiest of traditional fancies: a slice of Swiss roll for elevenses, a fresh cream eclair at lunchtime, a '99' when out for a stroll along Brighton's famous promenade, two or three fairy cakes at tea-time, a handful of pork scratchings with a glass of sherry in the evening. For the baffled foreign language speaker, there is a handy guide to proper English - that is to say, the variety spoken by the people who (never let it be forgotten) made it up in the first place. Us. The English. "Especially," she adds, "those of us with my accent, living in my particular corner of East Sussex". The guide also includes a patient explanation of British humour for those unfortunate foreign folk who simply don't 'get it', in particular the impenetrable workings of the pun. When it comes to humour, says Mrs Hoover, foreign guests needs to try much harder, and that means laughing at jokes such as the following 'If you don't pay your exorcist you get re-possessed' whether they understands them or not. They should never, on the other hand, try to crack a joke in English themselves - it will only lead to pained expressions and a reinforcement of national stereotypes. Readers will appreciate the checklist of not-to-be-missed Special Events and Calendar Customs in Britain. Whether it's Wimbledon, the Chelsea Flower Show or the London to Brighton Vintage Car Run, these special days, she says, "bind us together like garden twine binding a rangy hydrangea". But perhaps the most valuable advice to be found in the book (because it is so very hard to find these days) is the section about manners and mores - in short, how to behave. Casting aside all pussyfooting pluralism and cultural inclusiveness, Brighton's leading landlady tells us all to wipe our feet and our noses, hold our cups correctly, use Mr, Mrs and Miss to strangers and to remember our pleases and thank-yous. In Britain 'sorry' is definitely not the hardest word; it should be on the tip of every true Brit's tongue, and the best thing for any foreign visitor to be is, first and foremost, apologetic.

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About the Author:

Martyn Ford, writer and illustrator, comes from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, while Peter Legon, writer and publisher, was brought up in Liverpool and Leeds. They were colleagues at the same Brighton language school where, in 1983, 'Brighton's Leading Landlady' made her very first appearance. Their How To Be British Collection (2003) and How To Be British Collection Two (2005) have together sold over 190,000 copies. Mrs Joyce Hoover's How Do You Do? is their fourth book.

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