It hardly even needs saying, but white Brits love barista-made coffee (preferably Australian) adorned with elaborate latte art. Willing and able to spend a minimum of £2.50 for a coffee with some warm milk, white Brits are not content with merely drinking their purchase. They need to savour it as if it were a wine degustation, talking about the coffee’s roast, blend, vibrant acidity, floral overtones and sweet aftertaste.
White British “cafficionados” can smell an Ozone or Square Mile roast, well, a mile off. A good way to spot quality cafés is looking at how chummy and pun-tastic the hand-drawn chalkboard outside is. However, take note: once a ‘cult coffee shop’ has been recommended by Time Out it’s time to find a new, more hidden one.
Trying to navigate your way through the difference between flat whites and lattes and macs and piccolos can be tricky. But fear not. All those other white Brits are bluffing too.
Not a fan of coffee? No problem. The myriad choices available are designed to make caffeine palatable to even the most inveterate coffee hater: through all the soya milk, vanilla and amaretto syrup, chocolate, sugar and shedloads of creamy froth, you’ll hardly be able to taste any coffee at all. If even that is too strong for you, try a chai latte – no one needs to know it’s not coffee. What really matters is that you can coo at the pretty shapes in the foam.
The apotheosis of white Brits’ undying love for coffee is the pop-up Shoreditch café #guardiancoffee. Initially dismissed as a Twitter joke, it soon turned out to be a real place where white Brits can indulge their two greatest passions at once: reading the Guardian while drinking a double macchiato.
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All white Brits dream of one day working from home. They are striving for an alternative to the office rat race, with its depressing and endless commute to a garishly neon-lit office, having to make small talk in the kitchen as they microwave their leftover soup, or bankrupting themselves at various health food chains selling antioxidant-rich salads.
What white Brits really want is to sip chai lattes in their local independent coffee shop while tweeting hilarious pictures of cats from their Macbook, and occasionally do some creative freelance work. This would leave them free to organise their own time and finally escape the dreaded 9-5. They will be the people in the cafe tutting at you for daring to speak to each other and distract them from their work.
On the downside, this means that their working life will bleed into the rest of their day, giving them the impression that they are fantastically busy. At evenings and weekends they will be too busy to meet their friends, because they’ll be frantically scrambling to finish the work they put off during the day. Their various and complex tricks to avoid procrastination have a hard time contending with the temptations of making their own juice or having a two-hour yoga break.
However, make sure that you do not imply that they work any less hard than their office peers. Phrases such as ‘shirking from home’ will not endear you to them. Instead, quote Richard Branson, who works from home from Necker Island, and argue that “To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.”
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Ironically, the two things that white Brits love the most are in direct opposition to one another. On the one hand, they could not get through a day without their sleek and shiny gadgets, playing Fruit Ninja on their iPads and falling over themselves to call Steve Jobs ‘inspirational’.
On the other hand, they just love nostalgia. Show them a VHS or Mega Drive and watch them turn into bubbling excitable fools. They simply adore 35mm cinema prints, cameras with real photographic film, hand-drawn animation, vinyl records (in Stewart Lee’s words, “like a massive, flat mp3”), and they never, ever stop going on about how much they love the smell of books.
As with all things, white Brits are conflicted about this. They hate staring at screens, yet all their favourite activities revolve around LCD-lit devices of varying sizes. One of the things they like the most is complaining about how the digital world is depersonalising human interactions, where posting and ‘liking’ comedy YouTube or Buzzfeed links on each other’s walls has replaced actual face-to-face conversations.
But to their jaded, digital-native minds, just hanging out is no longer entertainment enough. No social gathering goes by without one white Brit showing another at least one viral picture of a cat or Ryan Gosling, or a Bad Lip Reading of a recent world event. Of course, they complain about this by angrily tweeting “So sick of social media and gadgets! When’s the last time you were on a beach or in a park? #boredoftheinternet” from their smartphone.
Hence Instagram: a faded, retro nostalgic device that you can only do on a smartphone, and which you can digitally ‘like’ without the trouble of physically meeting your ‘friend’ IRL.
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Now that white Brits have finally got over their smoked salmon and scrambled eggs obsession, a new breakfast trend has boldly emerged. If you find yourself in a café for brunch and notice that the eggs are paltry hen’s eggs, it is advisable to make a swift exit. An establishment that has not yet adopted the duck egg for all its eggy recipes is clearly unfit for the patronage of any self-respecting white Brit.
Bigger, richer and just overall better in every way, the duck egg is to the hen’s egg what dauphinoise is to mash. Broadway Market and Waitrose, ever compliant to the wishes of their clientele, stock free range duck eggs in ever greater quantities. Perhaps it is their translucency, or the crisp white shell. Perhaps it is their creamy, silky texture. But duck eggs have captured the hearts, and truly the plates, of white Brits all over the country.
Other foods that white Brits will never tire of include: sourdough and soda bread, smoked salmon, avocado, asparagus, capers, camembert, manchego, and home-made pesto. Try mixing them all together into a nice mush and you could be the lucky winner of the upcoming Hackney episode of Come Dine With Me. However, N.B.: white Brits are fickle creatures, and formerly-popular choices such as sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts are now considered outmoded.
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Gardening, knitting, and baking bread: these are the things that white Brits’ grandparents enjoy. Right? Wrong.
Along with the usual drinking, smoking and raving, white Brits also regularly engage in more wholesome activities such as crochet and making their own smoothies. Stressed by the many troubles of their trendy media city lifestyles, they find these pastimes ‘soothing’ and ‘therapeutic’. Therefore, instead of being a lame sign of ‘growing up’, they can be spun as a necessary side-effect of their hedonistic lives.
Anything crafty is especially good, as it also allows white Brits to show off their creative side: painting, drawing, sewing, sculpting, and generally ‘making things with your hands’. The produce of these creations doubles up as handy gifts, which have the twofold benefit of being lovingly hand-made and dirt cheap.
Despite white Brits’ protestations to the contrary, pastimes such as these do point towards their gentle and inevitable transformation into sophisticated respectability. Before they know it, the self-destructive studenty pastimes are dropped, and their knowledge of what seeds to plant in which part of the garden grows. As their salary slowly increases and they trundle along towards Islington and Stoke Newington, white Brits become increasingly mellow and house-proud, until they accidentally find themselves having dinner parties. But, god damn it, they do still like Animal Collective.
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This Turkish delicacy is the takeaway du choix for white Brits in the know: a flavoursome meaty snack best consumed post-midnight after a drink or seven. Lahmacuns are cheap (an average of £1.60), reasonably healthy, and recherché: all things that white Brits seek in a food, even at 4am.
What sets a lahmacun (or ‘lammy’) apart from the common kebab or fried chicken is that, although easily found in the Dalston area, it is not readily available in all fast food shops. This ‘Turkish pizza’ is described by white Brits as “the hidden secret of kebab shops, really authentic” due to its reduced cost and foreign-sounding name. It is also a prime example of white Brits co-opting a traditionally working-class product as a way to boost their own street cred.
If a white Brit wants to impress the kebab shop owner, and all their friends, they will know that lahmacun is pronounced ‘lah-ma-joon’. For the full experience, order it with salad and both chilli and garlic sauce. Thanks to lahmacuns, white Brits are able to show off their obscure London knowhow and knowledge of different cultures, granting them a modicum of dignity even whilst their cheap takeaway food trickles down their chins on the nightbus home.
The vegetarian alternative, of course, is the classic hoummus and falafel wrap. However, seeing as omnivorous white Brits tend to feel bad when eating meat, the small amount of mince in a lahmacun is another point in its favour: enough to give it flavour, but insubstantial enough to lessen the guilt.
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If you have spoken to a white Brit over the past six months, you will no doubt be aware that their enthusiasm about the upcoming 2012 London Olympics is about as high as their interest in the musical offerings of Chris Martin. By this stage, it is too much of a cliché to even sigh anymore at the mention the ‘O’ word.
White Brits have come to terms with, and almost even accept, the inevitable onslaught of Olympic branding, relentless sponsorship, bafflingly Big Brother-esque mascots, inexplicably huge spend of tax money, and the temporary re-appropriation of the Union Jack from BNP members. They can currently be seen sulking around, crying into their locally brewed organic lagers.
In anticipation of the worldwide embarrassment that is sure to follow the Opening Ceremony (which will presumably include horrors such as Boris Johnson, the Middletons and Cheryl Cole), many white Brits will simply leave the country for the duration of the Games. The few left behind will do what they can to sabotage the event, by sticking witty banners to their windows or affixing the #keephackneyshit hashtag to the end of their tweets.
Seeing as many white Brits reside in the affected area (East London), they whine and whine about how the Olympics will disrupt their travel into work and put them at risk of terrorist attacks, or of being engulfed by the hordes of tourists. Ironically, however, without the added resources and investment in the East End occasioned by the Olympics, very few white Brits would actually inhabit these now-rather-gentrified areas, with their organic delis, arthouse cinemas and pop-up art galleries.
* N.B. Following the ‘multiculturalist leftist propaganda’ of the Opening Ceremony which celebrated nurses, immigrants and young people, white Brits have shaken off their initial misgivings and started to quite like the Olympics.
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