What separates us Brits from the crowd? Let’s talk about just that – separating ourselves from the crowd. We like our personal space. There has to be a dignified distance between strangers, especially in public places. Visitors to our nation can take a while to understand this and some people just stand too close, without any idea how offensive we find it. We’re not complaining – being British, we’re far too polite for that – but this is how we really feel:
12. Personal Space
Let’s use crowded public transport as an example; there is unavoidably close and then there’s threateningly close.
There is an invisible line of acceptability, where you can be squashed up against the person next you and yet still retain a tiny piece of personal space which you don’t have to share. If you are unfortunate enough to be pressing up against an immovable object though, it can be more difficult. This is where the “space-invader” becomes really irritating. You want to back away from him but there is nowhere to go. You try and turn around, hoping the movement will create some space between you, but they stand firm. You can feel the warmth of their breath on your face, you become anxious and bothered, you might even make a noise under your breath to try and hint at how uncomfortable you feel. Still, they just don’t get it, they are not moving. We hate that. We like to be able to breathe our own breath without having to inhale the whiff of last night’s dinner on someone else’s!
Now don’t get me wrong, we like interaction. Us Brits can be just as warm and friendly as the next person, we just like to be civilised about it. So – if you want to squash up against someone on the tube, that’s your prerogative – just don’t involve us!