10 things a British person would never willingly spend money on

Parking meter on white
Parking meter on white

British people have learned to live with the fact that life is increasingly overpriced.

We understand perfectly well that the only people who are ever going to have a chance to enjoy our hard-earned cash are the fat cats at the multinational conglomerates, getting fatter off the fruits of our labours. However, just because we hand over our debit cards without a murmur, they shouldn't be under the misapprehension that we're happy about it.

Being British means we'd rather saw our own leg off than make a fuss. However, it also means we have an inalienable right not to spend money on those ten things that embody all that is wrong with modern society - at least not without a deep resentment that we'll take to the grave.

1. Someone else's round

A study in 2008 revealed that Brits are more attached to the concept of buying a round than anyone anywhere else in Europe. But when you enter into the cult of round-buying, you need to understand that the unspoken etiquette of the round is sacrosanct.

You know the order you need to buy drinks in - it's inextricably linked to the order you bought them in last time, and the speed at which everyone tends to drink (something which the entire party has been keeping tabs on since you started drinking together - without feeling the need to bring it up).

It doesn't matter how much you've had to drink, or how close it is to payday, there's never an excuse to miss your round. If anyone tries to pull this stunt, everyone else will be forced to nurse their drinks until closing time, and then quietly and irretrievably ostracise the round shirker for life.

2. A small glass

The government has pushed for the return of the 125ml glass of wine in pubs, to encourage people to drink less, but they forgot the fact that whoever is buying the round couldn't risk the humiliation of looking cheap, so will have to return with the largest possible measure of wine every time - even if it's a glass so big that they chuck in the rest of the bottle with it.
3. The wrong type of tea
Making tea has been elevated to an art form in many kitchens. We may not have the teahouses and the traditional dress of the Japanese, but the tea-making ceremony in the UK is every bit as intricate. Anything from adding milk at the wrong time, to brewing for too long, or the incorrect use of a teaspoon can destroy everything.

So when we venture out of the house and order tea, we are taking our life in our hands. Unless the serving staff stand by the table with the teabag and kettle and await our instructions, there's every chance that we'll end up with the wrong type of tea. And while we will - of course - say thank you for the tea, drink it, and pay. Our souls will officially be destroyed

4. A new Creme Egg
We knew this would happen when Cadbury was taken into foreign ownership and the future of our chocolate lay in the hands of someone who didn't understand the central role the Creme Egg plays in maintaining morale between Christmas and Easter. Yet somehow even the fact that we are able to say 'I told you so' does nothing to alleviate the pain of knowing that Creme Eggs will never be the same again.

5. Shipping
Three quarters of us bought something online last year - and there's a good chance that as we approached the end of the purchasing process, every one of us was forced into the ultimate statement of unhappiness - tutting.

We might love the convenience and the choice of shopping online - but not as much as we hate having to pay for it to be delivered to us. When we're not spending much, it can double the cost of the shopping, and when we are spending more, we resent it when postage isn't throw in as part of the deal.

It may be because we know Amazon would have sent it to us for free, or because even when we've paid for delivery, there's every chance we'll still have to pick it up from the Post Office. Whatever the reason, there's never a moment when anyone has ever thought 'Wow, the postage is really reasonable on that'.

6. Apps that cost more than 99p

These apps might replace your diary, offer you personal training, or provide endless entertainment, but really? More than 99p? Do they think we're made of money? For that sort of cash at the very least it had better get up every morning and bring you breakfast in bed.

7. The licence fee

The BBC is a much-loved institution, and many of us are grateful to live in a country where a public service broadcaster brings us something relatively close to independent coverage of world events, and world-class drama. However, it doesn't mean we're happy to pay for it - especially when it sets us back the best part of £150 a year.

Of course, defenders of the licence fee will point out that we are willing to hand over £7 a month for Netflix, or £50 or more a month for cable or satellite TV, and that by comparison the BBC is offering great value, but that's really not the point.

In the case of subscription services, we're choosing to pay for things we want, rather than being forced to pay for things we may not have the slightest interest in. Given a choice, there's a good chance that the majority of people would continue to pay for the BBC - it's just that it would be nice to be asked.

8. Tipping

Across the world there's a collective eye-rolling at the thought of the British and their stingy tipping. But to assume that our distaste for tipping has anything at all to do with tight-fistedness is to miss the point entirely.

Tipping is just institutionalised showing off, and as such it's an embarrassment for all concerned. Why can't restaurants build the cost of service into the prices and pay their waiting staff a decent wage? Then we'd be spared the social awkwardness, the debates over etiquette and the maths that mean every meal out ends with a bitter taste in the mouth.

9. Parking

Owning a car is ludicrously expensive, driving it is ruinous and having it mended requires a small mortgage. The one thing that ought to be free is not driving it - so the idea of having to pay to leave it somewhere is appalling.

It's bad enough having to pay to leave the car on the high street - especially when we've gone to all the trouble of supporting local retailers - but increasingly councils are making us pay to leave it outside our own home by forking out for a 'residents parking permit'. It's enough to make you want to concrete over the front garden.

10. Europe

A survey last month showed that if asked to vote in an in/out referendum on Europe, 43% of people would vote to stay in and 38% would vote to leave. It goes to show that we have a complicated attitude towards Europe.

There are plenty of people who argue that it takes decisions about Britain's future out of British hands. There are also those who point out that it's vital for trade with our most important international market. However, you'll struggle to find a single person who would argue that the whole shebang offers great value for money.

When you take everything paid in versus everything paid out, we contribute £8 billion a year to Europe, and when you hear of spending projects like the £1.3 billion motorway planned for a tiny French island off the cast of Madagascar, or the £300,000 project to update the European Commission logo, it's hard to convince ourselves that our money is being spent wisely.

It doesn't mean we want to rock the boat, it doesn't mean we want to make a big fuss, and leave. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, we are still British after-all. However, you can be sure that in houses all over Britain there are audible tuts, resigned head shaking and strongly-worded letters that will be planned and never written. It's not that we're angry, we're just disappointed.


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