This book was written during my stay in England (1992-1996) as an undergraduate and postgraduate student in Manchester a.k.a. “Cottonopolis”, “Warehouse City”, “Rainy City”, “Madchester”, “Mancunia” or, as mentioned in the book, “Redbrick” (which, in effect, is used as a metonymy for any grim city “up North”). To be precise, I spent my first year in Ormskirk (near Liverpool) so I do have some experience of living in a small town in the UK too.
I read for a BA in English studies at Edge Hill University (Edge Hill College at the time) and Manchester Metropolitan University, as well an MSc in Machine translation at UMIST‘s Language Engineering Department (UMIST merged with the Victoria University of Manchester in 2004).
The title of the book is a pun on the comedic play No Sex Please, We’re British. (Would you know that “Brutish”, according to the OED, is another word for “British”? I know, it fits like a glove in my case.)
If I was asked why I wrote it I would cite two terms: culture shock and culture gap. To be honest, I am hardly the first one to write a book about the British culture, which purports to be at once pungent and funny, from the viewpoint of a foreigner (albeit I may very well be the first Greek). A couple of favourites are George Mikes and Idries Shah (many more can be found in the book’s bibliography).
During my stay I also took an interest in Buddhism which I studied and practiced in FWBO‘s (currently Triratna Buddhist Community) Manchester Buddhist Centre. It was interesting to see how the native psyche interacted with such concepts as metta bhavana, within the context of spiritual practice, and the inherent cultural difficulties of expressing emotion and cultivating loving-kindness.
The bulk of my insights is based to a great extent on my first-hand experience of British student life in Halls of Residence like Owen’s Park—my room was opposite Squirrels bar—as well as shared apartments), which can be succinctly epitomized in the following lyrics by Oasis:
I was looking for some action
But all I found was cigarettes and alcohol
You could wait for a lifetime
To spend your days in the sunshine…