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A Question About British Culture on a Delicate Topic

jbtsax

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Being a diehard fan of Hugh Laurie, I have started watching the series "Forty Something" on DVD. My question is, are all the British as open about sexual matters as suggested in that tv series, or is that just exaggerated for the comedic effect. Except for cable pay tv no show in the states would go as far as what I have seen in the first two episodes. Don't get me wrong. I find it very refreshing and absolutely hilarious. Over here "****" refers to an out-of-fashion style of carpet.
 
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Kingsleyhk

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Not having seen the series for a few years, let me offer my perspective (as a 67 yo Brit with three grown sons) on British attitudes to sex - at the risk of vast oversimplification. First, there's a substantial difference between London English, other English and Welsh or Scottish approaches. Most of what you would see on UK TV generally reflects London English attitudes.

Like most things English, it is also bound up with the class system. Historically, the upper classes had arranged marriages and went at it like knives outside the marriage - once an heir and a spare were born. Anything went as long as it didn't become public. That of course altered with the advent of the tabloid and the paparazzi.

The working classes also went at it - in or out of marriage - with a lot of illegitimate births.

The middle classes sublimated their sexual needs - which leads to the stereotype of the repressed Englishman (see Baden Powell, Montgomery, etc.). The one place where they didn't sublimate was in the colonies - in fact, there's a school of thought that says that a lot of the motivation for people going to the Empire was to get their rocks off with the locals.

I think what you're seeing in the series is the repressed middle class Englishman struggling to come out of his shell in his mid-life crisis. It's exaggerated but not by much - and very funny. In my time, UK attitudes to sex have changed - I would personally say improved - substantially. While there's a lot of nonsense talked about the 60s, there's no question that, in Britain at least, it did free up an awful lot of those "hide it away" attitudes. Thank God!
 
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Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
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2,773
And over here rough "****" it's a type of tobacco.
Two countries separated by one language.
 

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
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508
The common cormorant or ****
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.
 

Colin the Bear

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13,095
I don't think you can sum up a nation's private attitudes by one 10 year old television series. We couldn't even agree on a government. Attitudes vary from house to house, street to street. We have the watershed at 9pm so things start to relax after that. I think attitudes chill as we get older and the baby boomers are approaching pension age. The cultural diversity throughout this little group of islands has left a lot of people without a sense of a common British identity.

I believe the Church has a stronger voice in USA. Not here anymore. Sunday is as busy as Saturday for town centres and retail parks

I believe Sh@g has slipped into almost polite usage over here. Most folk use much direct Anglo Saxon. We had that Mike Myers film "The spy who ******* me" 1999 so by 2003 Hugh may just have been riding the crest of a wave. They cracked on it was a dance. It was called something else over there.

We do seem to like comedy about the human condition.
 

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
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**** - the dance - has 98 videos listed on YouTube - here's one of them:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKzrQ1RedxY

Slick moves and some nice music with it.

**** has five definitions in my OED Compact - and of course we have the adjectival usage "******* out" as in Monty Python's parrot - all ******* out after a long squawk.
 

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
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508
Fascinating that the word "****" seems to be being automatically censored - so much for the relaxation of attitudes!

What happens in the unlikely event that I want to post about hairstyles or carpets - or even Phalacrocorax harrisi?
 
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BigMartin

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3,904
Fascinating that the word "****" seems to be being automatically censored - so much for the relaxation of attitudes!

What happens in the unlikely event that I want to post about hairstyles or carpets - or even Phalacrocorax harrisi?
Yeah, it's only a f***ing sea bird.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Being a diehard fan of Hugh Laurie, I have started watching the series "Forty Something" on DVD. My question is, are all the British as open about sexual matters as suggested in that tv series, or is that just exaggerated for the comedic effect. Except for cable pay tv no show in the states would go as far as what I have seen in the first two episodes. Don't get me wrong. I find it very refreshing and absolutely hilarious. Over here "****" refers to an out-of-fashion style of carpet.
EDIT Sorry - should have read rest of thread before replying - my comments were redundant.

The only thing I'd say is that London is very different from the rest of the UK. Recent census figures showed that it has a very substantial non-indigenous population (can't remember the figures but it's big 40% ?). In Shropshire, the percentage is small (2 or 3 per cent or so). Media are very London-centric and have a tendency to assume that everywhere is like London.
 
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navarro

Senior Member
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863
Good Morning all, being of what might be described as a person of genteel persuasion and on the eve of the new year reaching my seventy sixth year, I find the use of the double expletive and the jargon associated with what is classed as the norm beamed out on the radio and television as particularily repugnant. I remember that old stalwart of the battery box `Gibert Harding` being severly chastised by the establishment for his inadvertant blurting out of "Oh B-m" during an airing of `What`s My Line."

it is a sad reflection indeed that sexual inuendos are bandied about by the vision and sound hoi polloi as readily as asking for a jar of Humming Birds Tongues from Fortnum and Masons.

It was with disgust and a frenzied scrabbling in my medical cabinet for earplugs (soft wax type.) after hearing the word `c----m being used by a BBC World program presenter with as much familiarity as one would summon a waiter within your favourite Italian restaurant for the bill.

Hugh Laurie`s references to `Coconut Matting ` (I will not write down this particular style of carpet pile which is referred to in 40 Something for fear of upsetting our lady members.)

I have likewise removed from my music library the aforesaids rendering of `Get Happy.` (non lip synced version.) popularised in his latest `House` series. Even though his sympathetic portrayal of Dr. Gregory House brought him many a plaudit and a frenzied scribbling in the letters to the editor section of the `Lancet.`

As a further reprimand I would point out it is not a word commonly used within the hallowed halls of Eton Mr Lauries Alma Mater. (Except Saturday mornings outside the tuck shop before Sat. Preps and perhaps after the visit of a certain ladies college for the annual `Hop.`)

So Mr jbtsax this island race would not be as promiscous with their use of sexual badinage as portrayed in various soaps etc.

And furthemore I would like to reassure you that our many American cousins who participate in the `See Europe On A dollar A Day` trips are not likely to hear this word used except in the context of as previousely pointed out by a fellow forum member.

To simplify this a Pearly King might say to his Pearly Queen. "Awlrite luv jus erf te the crackle an pop te get a couple er bounces er Ole Holborn S---g.` Best Regards ,Still traumatized by the M.F. Mars bar incident. N.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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EDIT Sorry - should have read rest of thread before replying - my comments were redundant.

The only thing I'd say is that London is very different from the rest of the UK. Recent census figures showed that it has a very substantial non-indigenous population (can't remember the figures but it's big 40% ?). In Shropshire, the percentage is small (2 or 3 per cent or so). Media are very London-centric and have a tendency to assume that everywhere is like London.
I think I heard recently that 51% of London are not white British.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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5,953
Fascinating that the word "****" seems to be being automatically censored - so much for the relaxation of attitudes!

What happens in the unlikely event that I want to post about hairstyles or carpets - or even Phalacrocorax harrisi?
You could always try "shaaagggg"
 

Colin the Bear

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13,095
If you want to see how far British Tv has slipped, google Leigh Francis. His latest creation Keith Lemon is particularly puerile.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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5,953
Gentlemen, this is a family forum.....
[ever so slightly tongue in cheek]

Fair enough - but are you sure?

Do you know how many families are members? How old is our youngest member, and how innocent are they?

What you actually mean is: you don't want to offend people who are easily offended. It's practically impossible to offend kids (except by "Dad Dancing" of course) and all kids past the age of 5 have a far cruder vocabulary than mine.

[/ever so slightly tongue in cheek]

(The picture appeared by accident but it seemed appropriate so I left it) :)
 

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navarro

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If you want to see how far British Tv has slipped, google Leigh Francis. His latest creation Keith Lemon is particularly puerile.
I have to admit Colin my frivolous meanderings on this subject may seem that I do not attach enough importance as to how far TV has slipped. HoweverI agree fully with what you have stated. BBC TV and radio have no doubt adopted the attitude for the sake of ratings of `When in Rome ` re commercial channels.

I was a firm believer in free broadcast no censorship. My attitudes have changed and apart from the smut beamed out, the damage which is being done by the image portrayed of English people is beyond comprehension. Not to mention the mis-use of the spoken word. What I find a joke is the BBCs naive question on the BBCi Player being `You have to be over 18 to watch certain contents please tick the box to affirm you are. Ha Ha. What happened to the watershed. Regds. N.
 
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