How to be an Alien in England
‘In England everything is typical. If your train is late, it is typical. If there are no seats on the upper deck of a bus, it is typical. If it starts to rain at five o’clock just before you leave work, it is typical.’
‘Never contradict The English during weather talk. If they say that 15 degrees is “quite unbearably hot” then either you just say “indeed, it is quite unbearably hot” or you shut up and nod.’
Ten years ago, Angela Kiss arrived in the UK without a word of English. All she brought with her was a small bag, a sense of adventure, a desire to work and a copy of George Mikes’ classic 1940s humour book about the peculiarities of the British, How to be an Alien.
Through every dodgy flat share, low-paid waitressing job, awkward date and office mishap, Angela held tight to George’s wit and wisdom. With his help she began to understand how to live amongst the English – with their eccentricity, spirit and singing train drivers – and fell in love with a land rich in green spaces, pubs and puddings.
A wry, often affectionate view on the English, and how to navigate our national personality.
Angela Kiss is a writer and accountant. Born in Hungary, she has lived and worked in London for ten years. She has had three books published in Hungary, one of which was her memoir, One Way Ticket to London, which has been translated in English and self-published as an ebook.