The British are comparatively uninterested in clothes. They spend a lower proportion of their income on clothing than people in most other European countries do. Many people buy second-hand clothes and are not at all embarrassed to admit this. If you are somewhere in a Mediterranean holiday area it is usually possible to identify the British tourist - he or she is the one who looks so badly dressed!
Choose the proper alternative:
1. In their general behaviour, the British (are rather formal / observe certain formalities).
2. A person has to observe some quite rigid rules when s/he is playing a (public / private) role.
3. When on duty, a male bank employee is expected to wear (a suit with a tie / an old sweater and jeans).
4. The British are (tolerant / critical) of 'strange' clothing.
5. To 'dress down' means to wear (respectable / scruffy) clothes.
II. This difference between formalities and formality is the key to what people from other countries sometimes experience as a coldness among the British. The key is this: being friendly in Britain often involves showing that you are not bothering with the formalities. This means not addressing someone by his or her title (Mr, Mrs, Professor etc), not dressing smartly when entertaining guests, not shaking hands when meeting and not saying 'please' when making a request. When they avoid doing these things with you, the British are not being unfriendly or disrespectful, they are implying that you are in the category 'friend', and so all the rules can be ignored. To address someone by his or her title or to say 'please' is to observe formalities and therefore to put a distance between the people involved. The same is true of shaking hands. Although this sometimes has the reputation of being a very British thing to do, it is actually rather rare. Most people would do it only when being introduced to a stranger or when meeting an acquaintance (but not a friend) after a long time. Similarly, most British people do not feel welcomed if, on being invited to somebody's house, they find the hosts in smart clothes and a grand table set for them.
They do not feel flattered by this, they feel intimidated. It makes them feel they can't relax.
It is probably true that the British, especially the English, are more reserved than the people of many other countries. They find it comparatively difficult to indicate friendship by open displays of affection. For example, it is not the convention to kiss when meeting a friend. Instead, friendship is symbolized by behaving as casually as possible. If you are in a British person's house, and you are told to 'help yourself to something, your host is not being rude or suggesting that you are of no importance — he or she is showing that you are completely accepted and just like 'one of the family'.
In the last decades of the twentieth century, the general amount of informality has been increasing. Buffet-type meals, at which people do not sit down at a table to eat, are a common form of hospitality. At the same time, the traditional reserve has also been breaking down. More groups in society now kiss when meeting each other (women and women, and men and women, but still never men and men!).
Exclude the options that are not true:
1. Being friendly in Britain means
(a) addressing someone by his or her title;
(b) dressing smartly when entertaining guests;
(c) not shaking hands when meeting;
(d) not saying 'please' when making a request.
2. Not bothering with the formalities implies that
(a) the British are unfriendly and disrespectful;
(b) you are in the category 'friend';
(c) there is a distance between the people involved;
(d) the British are more reserved than the people of other countries.
3. Shaking hands
(a) is a very British thing to do;
(b) is actually rather rare;
(c) is appropriate when being introduced to a stranger;
(d) is natural when meeting a friend after a long time.
4. The hosts in smart clothes and a grand table set for them makes British people
(a) feel welcomed;
(b) feel flattered;
(c) feel intimidated;
(d) feel relaxed.
5. It is very British to indicate friendship
(a) by open displays of affection;
(b) by kissiwg when, meeting a friend;
(c) by behaving as casually as possible;
(d) by observing formalities.
6. If in a British person's house you are told to 'help yourself to something, your host
(a) is being rude;
(b) is suggesting that you are of no importance;
(c) is showing that you are completely accepted;
(d) is implying that you are just like 'one of the family'.
7. It is now acceptable to kiss when meeting each other