Written by Fiona Longmuir

In The News

Great British mannerisms

Conservative MP Philip Hollobone is arguing that donning a veil prevents the wearer from engaging in great British traditions such as smiling and saying hello. Smiling? Bollocks, says Fiona Longmuir, we invented the stiff upper lip.

women wearing niqabs and carrying umbrellasIn the ongoing battle to prevent radicalisation of British Muslims by abusing them, alienating them and branding every element of their existence ‘Un-British’, Tory MP Philip Hollobone has played another blinder. This time, we’re going after women wearing niqabs.

Hollobone claims that wearing a veil at all times prevents women from carrying out great British traditions, such as smiling at one another, waving and saying hello to our neighbours. Mr Hollobone presumably lives slightly outside of London, and a little further afield than his Kettering constituency… in Florida. Or maybe in that little town from the start of Beauty and the Beast.

Smiling? Waving? SAYING HELLO?! What are we, AMERICANS?!

From the sounds of things, the Tories are the ones who have to brush up on their British customs. I’m so antisocial that phoning a taxi brings me out in a cold sweat. If my neighbours started waving and smiling at me, I’d probably think they were hatching a plot to murder me. British people are famed for being awkward, introverted and abrupt. There are entire TV shows based around the concept of us hilariously avoiding each other. We literally invented the stiff upper lip.

It’s almost as if his whole line of reasoning is thinly veiled total anti-Muslim bollocks.*

“Wearing a veil that leaves only your eyes uncovered would provide excellent framing for traffic-stopping glares. Go ahead and practise, Muslim women of Britain! Picture, for example, a man telling you what to wear and then dressing it up as liberal values.”

His reasoning, by the way, is that he thinks Britain would become a miserable place to live if we all walked around with our faces covered. In that case, I’m not sure why David Cameron isn’t touring the country, shaking niqab-wearing Muslim women by the hand and congratulating them for falling so sturdily in line with government policy.

It’s almost as if the whole line of reasoning is thinly veiled total anti-Muslim bollocks. Almost.

In any case, I’ve worked up a list of British mannerisms that are much more authentic than smiling and salutations, all of which can be easily accomplished with a veil on.

Glowering: Maybe this is the London commute talking but in my experience, I’m more likely to be glowered at than greeted by my fellow man. People skipping queues, people who put their bags on the seats of public transport, people who don’t have their train tickets ready when they reach the automatic barrier… every one of those things has the power to make a British person’s blood boil.

glowering bulldogBut giving the culprits a ticking off would require actually speaking to them, so we resort to one of the great British talents: passive-aggressive glaring. As long as your eyes are visible, you’ve got this one down. In fact, wearing a veil that leaves only your eyes uncovered would provide excellent framing for traffic-stopping glares. Go ahead and practise, Muslim women of Britain! Picture, for example, a man telling you what to wear and then dressing it up as liberal values. That’s it, now glaaaaaaare.

Tutting: Sometimes such cardinal sins are committed that a simple glower just won’t do. In these extreme cases, you need to call on another mainstay of British culture: tutting. Tutting is a great way to show displeasure and disdain for somebody without actually having to interact with them at all.

Someday, someone will invent little signs that we can carry around and hold up while avoiding eye contact, saying, “That thing you are doing is totally unacceptable, please desist.” Until then, we have the tut.

“I’m so antisocial that phoning a taxi brings me out in a cold sweat. If my neighbours started waving and smiling at me, I’d probably think they were hatching a plot to murder me.”

Avoidance tactics: The glare and the tut are generally reserved for strangers who are irritating you by existing. But what happens when you happen upon someone you know? Someone who, were you not British, you probably should say hello to in the mornings.

In these cases, my friends, the situation calls for extreme avoidance tactics. You can stare engrossed at your phone as you barrel past them, pretending to be very busy and important. If you’re sure they haven’t clocked you yet, you can straight up hide. I hid behind a street sign from someone just the other day.

And judging by the terror and confusion that our government insists people feel when confronted with a woman in a veil, Muslim women would actually have the upper hand here by being apparently unrecognisable at all times. Is that Jean? Is it a woman at all? Is it three large lizards stacked on top of each other?

You see, it’s as if wearing a veil has absolutely nothing to do with being British. It’s almost like it’s completely irrelevant. It’s almost as if the whole line of reasoning is thinly veiled total anti-Muslim bollocks. British Muslims are British people, who deserve to live in peace without having their every move condemned as un-British. Just as long as they don’t start waving at everyone.

*We asked MP Philip Hollobone for comment. He said, “It’s about covering your face. I believe a white male teacher wearing a full face balaclava in class would be just as unacceptable.”

@EscapologistFi

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Written by Fiona Longmuir

Fiona Longmuir is a professional storyteller, reluctant adult and aspiring funny girl. When not getting naked in tube stations and binge-watching inappropriate TV shows, she can be found scribbling at the Escapologist's Daughter.

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