I’m being forced to take a test in order to progress to having citizenship in the UK. I think it’s a real waste of time, but I have to do it anyway. I’ve been compiling a list of questions that I think are actually key to understanding what life in the UK is really like, which I’ll keep adding to as they occur to me.
1. Is it embarrassing to be middle class?
2. Who likes Tracy Emin’s art and why?
3. Is it good or great to be average?
4. Is there such a thing as too drunk?
5. Which of the following constitutes being flirted with? 1) Being ignored 2) Being offered money for sex 3) Being asked about the weather 4) Sitting on the Tube, reading a book.
6. What is “coronation chicken?”
6. If you order your tea black, will it be served with milk?
7. Why is “fanny pack” a humorous phrase?
8. How do you say “scone?”
9. How do you get a really well paying job if you don’t have rich parents with connections?
10. Why are trains late?
11. How much personal space do you need to give someone on public transportation?
12. When is queueing not required?
13. Why is it acceptable to invite people to events but not their partners?
14. Is it okay to correct people’s children when they are running around a restaurant screaming? Is it okay to correct their parents?
15. Pronounce “excuse me” in a way that clearly announces the person addressed is in some way at fault.
16. Now say Leicester. Worcester. Berkshire. Bath. HA! Tricked you. Slough. Reading. HA! Tricked you again.
17. Explain why people aren’t legally forced to shovel snow off of their sidewalks in London, and instead the sidewalks become covered in ice, thus causing people to slip and fall and hurt themselves, yet somehow it’s a “health and safety” reason to not shovel said sidewalks.
18. Explain why people don’t turn on the heat until it’s near or below freezing outside.
19. List the known topics for polite small talk.
20. What is the right newspaper to read?
21. Explain the popularity of clearly manipulated pseudo-talent shows.
22. Why do people have duvets on beds when it is roasting hot outside?
23. Why do the national political parties make such a hoo-hah about limiting immigration when most immigrants to the UK are those allowed in by the treaties signed with the EU and thus not limitable?
24. Is there a single political party in the UK you can vote for – if you become a citizen – without feeling dirty, especially if you came here as an immigrant?
25. There are far more people out of work than there are jobs to be had, and yet people on benefits are all lazy and need to have their money taken away. Discuss.
26. Explain why abused animals are more worthy of charity than abused children.
27. Provide two examples of corporate speak for “saving our business money at your expense,” i.e. “going green” and “for your safety and security (we’ve removed the toasters from the lunchroom)”
28. Why is a pudding not a dessert? Why is a Yorkshire pudding not a dessert?
29. Is it safe to eat toad in a hole?
30. True. False. Blue. No, yellow.
31. Perform an interpretive dance that shows what you experience when you feel like no one likes you.
32. You go to a job interview, and they stop and show you a YouTube video of said interpretive dance. How do you recover gracefully?
33. In order to pass a test, you have to choose an option which you know to be wrong, and, in addition, memorize loads of outdated information so that you will be able to regurgitate the preferred answers to various questions. Do you do it?
34. When is the next census? (Hint: it’s a date in the past.) (2nd hint: see question 33.)
35. Finish this phrase: “Pinch, punch …” with appropriate guesture. When is this said? Demonstrate the correct response. Oh, look, you’ve just assaulted a member of Her Majesty’s civil service, we will now have you deported.