The UK government introduced British citizenship tests for would-be immigrants this week.
If would-be immigrants are anything like other people preparing for important tests (and why shouldn't they be?), they will now, no doubt, be scouring the internet for some handy hints.
Well, look no further, my friends, your search is over! Here are some sample questions and answers I have prepared to help you pass the new tests:
The correct answer is "I don't suppose I could trouble you for a cup of tea, could I, old chap? White, no sugar." [Note: When offered tea, the correct response is "Don't mind if I do".]
- Would you like a biscuit with that?
Careful, this is a cunning, psychometric test! There is a distinct British nibbling order when it comes to biscuits. It goes as follows (in descending order): Chocolate HobNobs, Bourbons, Custard Creams, Jammy Dodgers, ordinary HobNobs, Rich Tea. You should freely stuff your face when offered a selection of biscuits, always taking the most highly rated in the nibbling order—but ON NO ACCOUNT should you take the last-remaining biscuit on the plate (an action which would immediately identify you as a Johnny Foreigner, and not the sort of chap we're looking for).
- Do you think it's going to rain?
If you can make your answer last longer than 20 minutes, without deviating from the general theme of the awfulness of the British weather, you can stop panicking now: you're in!
- What is your religion?
The correct True-Brit response is "Erm… C of E, I think".
- Are you a terrorist?
This is a trick question. Even if you are a terrorist, you should answer "No"—the security services are pretty on-the-ball these days.
- What is the difference between being British and being English?
Another trick question: the two words are freely interchangeable.
- When did you last cry?
Yet another trick question (how very un-British!): True Brits never show any emotion, apart from at international soccer matches and Last Night at the Proms. You should state in an indignant-yet-somehow-emotionless way that you have never cried in your life, that you "always maintain a stiff upper lip", and that you "keep your pecker up". (WARNING: It is vitally important that you do not confuse these two phrases.) If pushed, however, you should admit that you "blubbed like an hysterical schoolgirl" when you heard the news about Diana.
- What is a googly?
As everyone knows, "a googly is an off-break bowled with an apparent leg-break action". If asked to explain what this means, you should admit that you "haven't the foggiest idea".
- Who said, "xxx"?
If the quotation is pugnacious, defiant or droll, you should answer "Winston Churchill"; if it is incomprehensible or something you thought was just a tired, old cliché, you should answer "Shakespeare".
- Who invented xxx?
The answer they are looking for is "The British!"—even if it is (no pun intended) patently untrue. If they push you for a name, you should reply, "That Scotsman: Whatsisname?" Don't worry, they won't know either.
- Who won the Second World War?
Again, they are looking for the answer "The British!" (or, for two extra points, "We did!"). It is then customary to give grudging recognition that we might have had "a little help from the Yanks"—provided you go on to observe that they were "two years late, as usual". On no account should you give any credit to the Russians.
- Who would you say is to blame for xxx?
A tricky one this: there are two possible answers, and it is impossible to tell which one they are looking for. As a general rule, you should answer "Brussels". If they look surprised, you should explain, "Well, when I say Brussels, I mean the French—but it's the same thing really, let's face it".
- How many languages can you speak?
The correct answer is "One".
- Who is your favourite actress?
There are three equally acceptable answers: "the lovely Kate Winslet", "Kristin Scott Thomas", or "Dame Judi". Don't mention Julia Roberts, Renée Zelwegger, or Nicole Kidman unless you want a slap.
- What would you say is Britain's greatest contribution to the world?
You're on the home straight now: they always like to finish with an easy one. The correct answer is, of course, "Civilisation".
The very best of British to you!