I’ve always been partial to good British humor (humour?). I’m especially fond of the Monty Python stuff, particularly Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“Who are you so wise in the ways of science?”) Even when people aren’t trying to be funny in Great Britain, they are oftentimes very amusing. My friend Wayne “Mac” McCormick from the UK recently sent me an e-mail with actual complaints from proper Brits, many of which I’ll repeat here so that I may fill up a column.
Tenants in housing often have issues and complaints for their landlords. What makes the British complaints different from the American complaints is how they’re worded. For example, in America, if the toilet doesn’t work, we call the landlord and say, “The (expletive deleted) toilet doesn’t work!” Across the pond, one might handle the same complaint in a much different fashion: “Sometime before I shuffle off this mortal coil, if it’s not too much trouble, I’d fancy a crap in my own working loo. Without further ado, here are some actual UK tenant complaints. Please imagine these spoken in a fine British accent.
1. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it. (I won’t touch this one.)
2. He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.
3. It's the dogs’ mess that I find hard to swallow. (Just wash it down with water.)
4. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.
5. Their 18-year-old son is continually banging his balls against my fence. (That’s gotta hurt!)
6. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.
7. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand? (Huh…?)
8. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.
9. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path? My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday, and now she is pregnant. (Well, at least we now know what causes that.)
10. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen. (Whatever turns you on, dude.)
11. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are plain filthy. (Good counting, Einstein!)
12. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared. (I don’t even want to know what they use the sinks for.)
13. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces. (This person was in the same math class as Einstein above.)
14. This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC 2.
It’s not just tenant-landlord complaints that Mac sent me. Here are some actual newspaper story excerpts that found their way to the UK press:
- Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, “We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house.” (The Daily Telegraph)
- Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks like. (The Guardian)
- At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguardsman and asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown his Land Rover off the cliff. (Aberdeen Evening Express)
- Mrs. Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue, Boscombe, delighted the audience with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week to do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled. “He'd always seemed a nice friendly chap, but when the crocuses came up in the middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out ‘Heil Hitler.’” (Bournemouth Evening Echo)