No, I’m not reacting to the 3 snowflakes that fell last week, naturally bringing the whole country to a standstill (we Brits may be plucky, but we no longer appear to have grit), I’m trembling at the thought of the new British Citizenship Test for would-be immigrants that’s just been published.
How so? After all, I was born in North London at a very early age, educated entirely in the UK, and my dad was an ardent Tottenham supporter. (He also liked football). I speak enough English to get me by, know that a pound of carrots is the same weight as a pound of feathers (not entirely sure of the answer in kilos), and like cats. So what’s the problem?
Well, on trying the old Citizenship Test when an American friend of mine had to swot for it, I discovered that I really don’t meet the standard for being British after all: ashamed to say I was totally stumped at a good many of the 19,000 multiple choice questions that every fellow citizen of this noble state apparently knows, apart from me.
For instance (I’ll override my considerable embarrassment here), I had absolutely no idea what percentage of 16 – 18 year-olds went into further education in NE England from September 2009 – September 2010. (There, done it. Wasn’t as horrendous as I thought it would be. Thank you for your sensitivity).
So hopeless was I, I dug out my passport to reassure myself the words BRITISH CITIZEN were still firmly stamped next to my mug shot, and hadn’t dissolved into a small chalky smudge of invisible ink.
However, the good news is, having perused the brand spanking new questions – which require, among other things, an in depth knowledge about Morecambe and Wise (the popular comedy duo of the 1970s, an obvious prerequisite of expertise for aspiring 21st Century Brits) and Monty Python (don’t mention Evelyn Waugh) – I appear to be every bit as British as the next 2nd generation Portuguese/Russian satirist. (Phew).
The even better news is that I bring you an exclusive extract from said questionnaire, which ‘goes live’ in March. Enough time to do your homework, wouldn’t you say?
[With thanks to the Assistants in the Selection of Suitable Eligibility Status, otherwise known as A.S.S.E.S.]
SO YOU WANT TO BE BRITISH, DO YOU?
1. Do you have a silly walk?
2. What have the Romans ever done for you?
3. Why are all Australians called Bruce?
4. What is Bruce Forsyth’s first name?
5. Why isn’t he Australian?
6. Which is the one with the short, fat, hairy legs? Is it: a) John Prescott; b) Tony Hair; c) Ann Widdecombe
7. Why is Mary Beard?
8. What do you think of it so far? Is it: a) Rubbish
9. Has your parrot fallen off its perch? Please show your working.
10. How much is £10 worth of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese?
11. What is the next word in this sequence? Spam, spam, spam, spam ….
12. What is your position on fucking gondolas?
13. What percentage of a 100% beefburger should be horse meat? Answer to the nearest 80%.
(Private Tuition available from D. Messias, ‘Headbangers’, Losingit Lane, Little Effinghope, TWA ATS)