The Wicked Wit of England is celebration of British humour, featuring a collection of stories, anecdotes, quips and quotes that capture the various idiosyncrasies of the English character.
If there is one thing that first-time visitors to England find mystifying – along with our fondness for eating chips out of old newspapers, our nostalgia for the shipping forecast (even though most of us have never ventured out to sea in a trawler) and the fact that not all men wear bowler hats to work – it is our sense of humour. ‘Ah, you English and your humour,’ they will say, with an air of suspicion, unsure as to whether they have just been unexpectedly praised or routinely insulted. It is easy to sympathize with them, for English humour encompasses a number of different styles. It can be surreal or satirical, dark or sophisticated, bawdy or genteel. And nobody does irony or sarcasm like the English. If Olympic gold medals were awarded for sarcasm, we would top the leader board every time.
The various idiosyncrasies of the English character – the social awkwardness, the constant need to apologize, the obsession with the weather, the stiff upper lip, and the love of queuing, to name but a few – are celebrated in The Wicked Wit of England, a collection of stories, anecdotes, quips and quotes featuring English people from all walks of life, from Quentin Crisp to Frank Skinner and Stephen Hawking to Thora Hird. This book might not help outsiders understand the English, but it might make them tolerate us a little more.