“So Sorry” is Your Taschenbuch to Britishness
By Andrew Cottrill . March 20, 2018
What goes on inside the heads of those pesky Inselaffen? Adam Fletcher’s new book ‘So Sorry’ aims to clarify just that.
After he successfully (and lovingly) erklärt the German people for the rest of us in his How to be German in 50 Easy Steps, British/Berlin author Adam Fletcher now has turned his gaze onto his own people. The British. My people. And the people about whom most of Europe are currently asking themselves: ‘what the fuck are they thinking?’
Well, Fletcher’s new book ‘So Sorry’ will provide you with all the answers you need and more.
With the full title: So Sorry: ein Brite erklärst sein komisches land, and this first edition being printed only in Deutsch, this is a guide with a specific audience. The Germans. And in the book he manages to artfully pinpoint those exact points where British ‘faffing’ rubs up against German ‘efficiency’, and how these flashpoints alter our outlooks, ways of life and our interactions with each other. As well as informing them about us,
this is also a book to help Germans to cope with the Brits.
That being said, one can tell that Fletcher’s forays in living (and writing about) the German life have rubbed off on him. He has become Germanised. He takes his water sparkling. But he is still capable of treating topics such as Brexit with enough sympathy to balance out the sneer.
Adam Fletcher’s writing is perfectly measured and mixes his humour with knowledge, trivia and insight to allow him to create congruent witticisms as well as well-reasoned observations throughout. But where he has always shone brightest is his ability to break complicated issues into cartoon imagery.
In the first chapter, we’re treated to a metaphor where the United Kingdom is a WG, wherein different rooms and floors are occupied by different countries and divisions within them. London, of course, has the biggest room. Later on, Fletcher devises a game of Bingo to help you find the exactly right banal British nicety to fit your current situation. They’re as always accompanied by the stellar illustrations by Robert M. Schöne, which help give this book its effortless feel.
So Sorry isn’t a romantic book about village greens, scones and cricket (although they do come up…), it’s one that tries to get beyond the British narrative (the one we lie to ourselves about daily) and find some truth behind the well-honed appearance. It’s a tea-stained part-celebration, part-exorcism of the author’s experience of Britishness – our quirks, customs, classes, our humour, our delusion and our striving to be ever nice.
It ticks all boxes and offers light, whimsical reading… even if some of those topics deserve longer than an overview. It also contains a masterclass on British humour – everything from learning how to swear properly, to ‘bantering’, to crafting the perfect sub-textual, metaphoric, fatalistic and self-deprecating joke.
Ironically, whilst trying to get to the truth behind the views of Britishness we portray to the world, and the lies we tell ourselves about its importance, the author never quite manages to get past the London- and Middle England-centric views he’s trying to dispel. They’re too ingrained. And that makes this a very British book indeed.
This book’s a great place to start for those of you with an interest in the peoples of that not-so-far-away island. And that’s all of you, you filthy little Anglophiles.
So Sorry: ein Brite erklärst sein komisches land by Adam Fletcher is available from publishers C.H. Beck. Get your copy here.
Find other books by Adam Fletcher here.
Article sponsored by C.H. Beck.