Lately I have been ranting about people’s lack of knowledge about Finland, so I thought it would only be fair to bring up the subject of misconceptions that Finns seem to have about England!
Firstly, and most importantly, it does not rain all the time in England! I’m getting tired of people commenting on the English weather, without any proper knowledge to back up these rumours they are spreading. It rains more in New York than it does in London, but I don’t hear any of my Finnish friends commenting on how they must make sure they bring an umbrella to New York! Yes, it rains now and then, and yes, our houses are damp. But that is to be expected as we do live on an island surrounded by salt water and most houses are built between 1890 -1930s! Our terraced house in Gravesend was built in 1932 and we get occasional dampness, which is easily treated. And in case you forgot, Gravesend has an Oceanic Climate and is one of the sunniest places in Great Britain!
Secondly, not all English football fans are hooligans! As a matter of fact, hooliganism is very rare and during my 20 years in the UK, attending football matches on nearly a weekly basis, I can count on one hand any unpleasant scenes I’ve witnessed. I have held a West Ham United season ticket for more than 16 years, and the community spirit and camaraderie is fantastic. I can tell you that there are also a lot of female fans, like the middle-aged mother of six who sits in front of me, the grandmother who sits behind me and comes with her adult grandchildren and the businesswoman who used to sit a few rows away from me. So forget about films like Green Street featuring aggressive blokes, all you are going to experience is a great atmosphere with lots of singing and banter!
Lastly, it seems that people from Finland expect English men to wear Bowler hats, drink copious amounts of tea and look a certain way! When hubby lived in Finland, he was always offered tea and people commented on how he didn’t look like a “typical” Englishman with his pale skin and dark hair. We started to notice a pattern when we asked people what they thought an Englishman looked like, and the answer lead us to believe it was Neil Hardwick, the most famous Brit in Finland, a ginger curly haired talk show host! Great Britain is a multicultural country and has always been! We have been part of the Roman Empire, have had a Saxon invasion, and a Viking invasion, a Norman invasion and have had a Danish king and a French king, with today’s Royal Household being of German descent. We have had big numbers of immigrants arriving, some of the first “official ones” being the Huguenots (French Protestants facing persecution) who began arriving in numbers around 1670 after King Charles II had offered them sanctuary ( in all some 40,000–50,000). Indian and African immigrants have been part of the British society since the 1800’s, not to forget the immigration since the 1940’s from former colonies and British territories such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Caribbean, South Africa, Kenya and Hong Kong. So how do you even define what a “typical” English person looks like? Let me see, my educated guess would be, it is not Neil Hardwick!
So next time you visit England, forget about bringing your umbrella, come and watch a West Ham match and embrace the fact that whatever you look like, you will fit into our multicultural society!
Love and peace to everyone – once again!