There have been many definitions of hell, but for the English the best definition is that it is the place where the Germans are the police, the Swedish are the comedians, the Italians are the defense force, Frenchmen dig the roads, the Belgians are the pop singers, the Spanish run the railways, the Turks cook the food, the Irish are the waiters, the Greeks run the government, and the common language is Dutch.
        - David Frost and Anthony Jay

Here, then, as a service to future presidents of the European Union, is the Utley Guide to the National Characteristics of the Peoples of Europe:
Belgians: mad, boring. Frenchmen: arrogant, chauvinistic, garlic-breathed. Germans: humourless, ruthless, efficient, greedy. Spaniards: lazy, hot-tempered, bloodthirsty. Irishmen: drunk, lazy, self-pitying, dishonest. Italians: volatile, sleazy, vain. Swedes: sex-obsessed, robotic, conformist. Greeks: smelly, hirsute, untrustworthy. Austrians: fat, wannabe Germans. Finns: pessimistic, sun-starved, suicidal. Dutchmen: clog-wearing, tulip-fancying dope addicts. Portuguese, Danes, Luxembourgeoise: too insignificant to bother about. The Brits: upright, honest, fair-minded (excluding the Scots, who are mean and belligerent, and the Welsh, who are blathering windbags)... before I am dragged off and lynched, I would like to make it clear that there are huge numbers of exceptions to these generalisations.
        - Tom Utley, "The Daily Telegraph"

Germans are flummoxed by humor, the Swiss have no concept of fun, the Spanish think there is nothing at all ridiculous about eating dinner at midnight, and the Italians should never, ever have been let in on the invention of the motor car.
        - Bill Bryson

The differences between nations are best revealed in the trivia of everyday life, like drinks — compare a pint of bitter with a bottle of burgundy or a six-pack of Bud — or sports: FA Cup Final, Tour de France, or World Series.
        - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

Q: What was the biggest surprise about America?
A: I was very surprise to learn it is now illegal to shoot at Red Indians. Once again, I would like apologise with all my heart to the staff of the Potawatomi Casino in Kansas. Sorry. I was also very surprise to discover womens is permit to operate motorcar in US and A. This could never happen in Kazakhstan — it too dangerous. We say that “to let woman drive a car is like to let monkey fly a plane”. We do not allow this any more since 2003 Astana air crash.
        - Borat Sagdiyev of Kazakhstan, interviewed in "The Times"

Borat Sagdiyev is a pig of a man: stupid, belligerent and charmless, according to His Excellency Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. He is also worthy of a Nobel Peace prize for having united in laughter wildly disparate elements of western political opinion. People who usually hate each other for the soundest of ideological reasons can be seen chuckling together whenever Borat appears. This is Sacha Baron Cohen’s greatest triumph — we all laugh at Borat and kid ourselves that it’s okay for us to do so, because Baron Cohen really has our own respective ideological enemies in his sights.
        - Rod Liddle, "The Times"

"I don't see much future for the Americans. Everything about the behavior of the American society reveals that it's half judaized, and the other half is negrified. How can one expect a state like that to hold together?"
        - Adolf Hitler

"I bet we could go right round the world and you'd have a pat response ready."
"I've travelled man, I've seen a bit of the world now you know."
"What do you think of Koreans, for instance?"
"Not to be trusted. Cruel people. Much the same as all Orientals."
"That's a third of the world's population dismissed in a phrase. Russians?"
"Oh? I thought you might have saved that for Italians."
"No, no, they're greasy aren't they? Not as greasy as the French mind."
"Well that's just about everyone. Oh, Americans?"
"Well, they're flash aren't they?"
"So it's just down to the British is it?"
"Well, I haven't got much time for the Irish or the Welsh, and the Scots are worse than the Koreans."
"And you never could stand Southerners."
"To tell you the truth I don't like anybody much outside this town. And there's a lot of families in our street I can't stand either. Come to think of it I don't even like the people next door."
"I see, so from the distant blue Pacific through the barren wastes of Manchuria, to 127 Inkerman Terrace, you can't abide anyone."
        - Bob and Terry, in Northern England, "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads"


"England, the land of jug-earred, chinless stomach-eaters."
"Still, they're not French."
        - Tom Servo and Crow, "Mystery Science Theater 3000"

Time and again in the last two centuries, France has refused to come to grips with its diminished status as a country whose greatest general was a foreigner, whose greatest warrior was a teenage girl, and whose last great military victory came on the plains of Wagram in 1809.
        - John J. Miller and Mark Molesky, "Our Oldest Enemy"

A revived France always "gets rich, militaristic and cocky; and nobody can get on with her until she has to be be thrashed again."
        - Herbert Hoover, in "The Dark Valley" by Piers Brendon

France hasn’t figured out yet how to surrender to the weather.
        - The Vent, after a recent spate of heat-related deaths in France

ABROAD, adj. At war with savages and idiots. To be a Frenchman abroad is to be miserable; to be an American abroad is to make others miserable.
        - Ambrose Bierce, The Enlarged Devil's Dictionary

There is a theory that nothing good ever comes out of France, because they keep the best for themselves. Its just a theory.
        - Declan Lynch, "Irish Independent"

Natural selfishness is the salient characteristic of France and of French people generally.
        - Paul Johnson

Please, Please, no more of this music.

- French Radio Listener, after French DJ's dusted off old disco records to satisfy new domestic content laws, 1996 The French are revolting. This is not a subjective judgment but a statement of fact.
        - Steven Moss, writing in Britain's "The Guardian"

Belgium: A country invented by the British to annoy the French.
        - Charles de Gaulle

What, why, how is Belgium? What historical miracles occured that led to the creation of a country which has as much right to exist as a duck-billed platypus?
        - Kevin Myers [1]

A country as devoted to the condom as Holy Communion.
        - Irishman Pol O'Conghaile, on Italy [1]

Funny how movies depict Italians as ruthlessly efficient when they're mobsters, and hopelessly inept when they're soldiers.
        - John Carman

You can't be a Real Country unless you have a Beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a Beer

- Frank Zappa In India, "cold weather" is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy. - Mark Twain Pakistanis may dislike and mistrust the Americans at the moment, but that's as nought compared with what they think about the Indians. They really, really properly hate Indians. Indeed, hating Indians is almost a defining patriotic characteristic of being Pakistani.

        - AA Gill, "The London Times"

If Japan were a person, you wouldn’t laugh at it, you’d smile pityingly at its parents and whisper that you’re sure they can do wonderful things with medication these days. If Japan were a person, it wouldn’t be allowed metal cutlery.

        - AA Gill, "The London Times"


The German mind has a talent for making no mistakes but the very greatest.

- Clifton Fadiman No one who speaks German could be an evil man. - The Simpsons German is a language which was developed solely to afford the speaker the opportunity to spit at strangers under the guise of polite conversation.

        - National Lampoon

"The German tongue: fleshy, warped, spit-sprayed, purplish and cruel."

        - Jack Gladney

"Genetic Engineering lets us correct God's horrible, horrible mistakes. Like German people."

        - Mr. Garrison, "South Park"

You can always reason with a German. You can always reason with a barnyard animal, too, for all the good it does... The larger the German body, the smaller the German bathing suit and the louder the German voice issuing German demands and German orders to everybody who doesn't speak German. For this, and several other reasons, Germany is known as 'the land where Israelis learned their manners'.

The Japanese take snapshots of everything, not just everything famous but *everything*. Back in Tokyo there must be a billion colour slides of street corners, phone booths, fire hydrants and overhead electrical wires. What are the Japanese doing with all these pictures? Its probably a question we should have asked before Pearl Harbour.

The French are sawed-off sissies who eat snails and slugs and cheese that smells like people's feet. Utter cowards who force their own children to drink wine, they gibber like baboons even when you try to speak to them in their own wimpy language.
The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know.

Italy is not technically part of the Third World, but no one has told the Italians.

- PJ O'Rourke, "Holidays in Hell" There is not, so far as I was able to discover, an Albanian Child Abuse Hotline. That's becuase it would be jammed with how-to-calls. - PJ O'Rourke, "Eat The Rich" Paraguay : Nowhere and famous for nothing.

        - PJ O'Rourke

"France, home to the world's greatest painters, chefs and anti-Semites. The French, cowardly yet opinionated, arrogant yet foul-smelling, anti-Israel, anti-American, and of course, as always, Jew-hating. Paris, the city of whores, dog feces on every corner, and effete men yelling anti-Semitic remarks at childern. The real creme de la creme of world culture. With all that's going on in the world, isn't it time we got back to hating ... the French?"

        - Saturday Night Live

"In Spain, traffic lights are more like clues."

        - Michael Robinson


This is one race of people (the Irish) for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
        - Quotation mistakenly attributed to Sigmund Frued, origins unknown

The Irish are a fair people - they never speak well of one another.
        - Samuel Johnson

"I love the Irish for their attachment to the faith and for many amiable and noble qualities, but they are deficient in good sense, sound judgement, and manly character."
        - Orestes Brownson

A people with too much human nature — violent and compassionate — for their own good.
        - Robin Berrington, former US press attache to Ireland (1980)

"Do you know why the harp is the symbol of Ireland? Because Irish people are always pulling strings."
        - Old joke

The Irish don't know what they want and are prepared to fight to the death to get it.
        - Sidney Littlewood

An Irishman is the only man in the world who will step over the bodies of a dozen naked woman to get to a bottle of stout.
        - A perfectly reasonable attitude :)

"What's the most useless thing on a woman? A drunken Irishman."
        - Rhonda to Jimmy, "The Wire"

The problem with Ireland is that it's a country full of genius, but with absolutely no talent.
        - Hugh Leonard

Did Irish peole evolve red hair and freckles to help them catch leprechauns?
        - Jared Diamond, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee"

"Ladies and gentlemen, what you are seeing is a total disregard for the things St. Patrick's Day stand for. All this drinking, violence, destruction of property. Are these the things we think of when we think of the Irish?"
        - Kent Brockman, as drunks start fights on Paddy's Day, "The Simpsons"

"All snakes who wish to remain in Ireland will please raise their right hands."
        - Saint Patrick

Board the windows, up your car insurance, and don't leave any booze in plain sight. It's St. Patrick's day in Chicago again. The legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. In fact, he was arrested for drunk driving. The snakes left because people kept throwing up on them.
        - ?

Irishness I define as the capacity of the Irish to accept and/or deliver standards which appal many of us … it is the antithesis of quality.
        - Denis Brosnan (who is Irish)

The Irish boomerang: never comes back, just keeps singing about how much it wants to.
        - Anon

Ireland : The land of ire.
        - Sir Robert Cecil, 1600

A wild, reckless, indolent, uncertain and superstitious race.
        - Benjamin Disraeli, writing in the 1830s about the Irish

"You disapprove of the Swedes?"
"Yes Sir."
"Their heads are too square, Sir."
"And you disapprove of the Irish?"
"Yes Sir."
"Because they are Irish Sir."
        - PG Wodehouse, "The Small Bachelor", 1927


The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity.
        - George Bernard Shaw

Cricket: A game invented by religious fundamentalists to explain the idea of eternal hell to non-Christian indigenous peoples of the former British Empire.
        - Joe O'Connor

"The chip: The British contribution to world cuisine."
        - A Fish Called Wanda

"It was alway yet the trick of our English nation, if they have a good thing, to make it too common."
        - Falstaff, in Shakespeare's "Henry IV Part I"

When Victorians looked out on the world, they saw a deplorable state of affairs which needed the civilized blessing of English rule, even if it had to be imposed at gunpoint. Europeans were not spared. France was regarded as the home office of immorality. And though Italy was loved for its climate and landscape, it was considered outrageous that it should be populated with Italians... Nothing, however, is easily explained about the Victorians. Openly anti-Semitic they surely were, but in Mr. Melmotte's time, their prime minister was Benjamin Disraeli — a Jew.
        - Russell Baker, from his introduction to "The Way We Live Now"

"Sure enough, the players had followed the usual English procedure of first ridiculing an American fashion and than adopting and exaggerating it."
        - Alistair Cooke, on exaggerated celebrations by soccer players

The best way for Americans to cure themselves of the almost universal belief that the English are "witty and clever, imperturbable and sophisticated," says professional anglophile Joe Queenan, is to marry a Briton. "This is particularly true if the spouse has relatives in Liverpool."
        - from Britain's "The Guardian"

"So you're from England?"
"How can you tell?"
"Cos you sound smart even when you say stupid things."
        - Carla and Eric Finch, in "Cheers"

Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign.
        - Unknown

Haggis is a black pudding eaten by the Scots and considered not only a delicacy, but fit for human consumption.The minced heart, liver and lungs of a sheep are mixed with oatmeal and boiled in the sheep's stomach before ...Excuse me a minute...
        - Mithrandir (

There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make.
        - J. M. Barrie

An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.
        - George Mikes, "How to be an Alien"

England is an irritating and insular country full of overweight, binge-drinking, reality TV addicts, a new guide warned tourists on Friday. But in the new Rough Guide to England, the English are also hailed as a nation of animal-loving, tea-drinking charity donors who love nothing better than forming an orderly queue.
        - Reuters

"The reason we British have the word queue is that the French had no further need of it."
        - Alexander Walker

A Martian, stepping from his spacecraft, would scarcely be able to distinguish between two countries of 60.5m (Britain) and 60.4m (France), with GDPs of $1,927 billion (Britain) and $1,911 billion (France), where life expectancy is almost the same and the average age of first sexual intercourse is 16 years, 6 months (in France) and 16 years, 7 months (in Britain). In terms of the numbers of murders, cigarettes smoked per capita, Olympic gold medals won since 1896 and foreign aid given, France and Britain rank alongside each other in the international listings. For all that both countries adore emphasising their differences, they are, in fact, eerily alike, at least to the outside world.
        - Andrew Roberts, reviewing "That Sweet Enemy", "The Times"

"Do you think there really are people who can just go up and say, "Hi, babe. Name's Charles. This is your lucky night"? "
"Well, if there are, they're not English."

 - Matthew & Charles, "Four Weddings & A Funeral " England is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, anomalies, hobbies, and humours.
        - George Santayana, "Soliloquies in England"

Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets.

- Eddy Peters The English instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it.
        - James Agate

Inquiring, confident and guarded, the way a bull at a gate might regard you.
        AA Gill, on English facial expressions, "The Angry Island"

Suspicious of all causes, contemptuous of systems, bored by ideologies, sceptical about Utopias, rejecting all blueprints, enamroured of its leisurely muddle, incurious about the future, devoted to its past.
        - Arthur Koestler, describing England

The English and Australians are cousins. If your great-great-great grandfather hadn't been such a bloody criminal, you'd have been one of us.
        - Del Boy, selling a car to an Aussie, "Only Fools and Horses"

In America only the successful writer is important, in France all writers are important, in England no writer is important, in Australia you have to explain what a writer is.
        - Geoffrey Cotterell

Traditionally we British are notoriously reticent about praising each other. We find the act of paying a compliment excruciatingly embarrassing, afraid that the beneficiary will assume it is flattery, manipulation or, heaven forbid, a sexual advance. We castigate Americans, who use compliments as apes use grooming, social lubrication with coded hierarchical overtones. How can they be so insincere?
        -  Paul Hoggart, "The Times"

All English people, whether they admit it or not, are equipped with a highly-sensitive class-radar system - a sort of GPS computer that tells us a person's position on the class map as soon as he or she begins to speak, if not sooner.
        - Kate Fox, author of "Watching the English"

The British aristocratic look is either that of an elegant and etiolated horse, or a beery, red-faced workman.
        - Patrick O'Donovan

Confronted by a spell of sizzling weather, we British shift very quickly through four distinct psychological states. I call them suspicion, immersion, irritation and revulsion. Suspicion, the first phase, seems to be hard-wired into us. Our weather is generally so unsettled that we instinctively regard any burst of sunshine as a flash in the pan... When last week’s heatwave started I was amazed by the number of people still perspiring in jackets on the Tube. After the first day or two, however, the truth dawns. It becomes clear that we are in for that rarest of British phenomena: prolonged hot weather. That’s when immersion kicks in. Our famed reserve cracks, to be replaced by sun-frenzy. City parks and squares become seas of roasting flesh... But then comes irritation. How much sleep can you miss anyway? Shouldn’t you be working instead of lying in a park getting burnt? Isn’t the smog suffocating? And if it doesn’t rain soon, what’s going to happen to the garden? So finally there is revulsion. People start to hate the sun.
I refer, of course, to Britain’s scorching s ummer of 1976 — when, from June 23 to August 29, the thermometer hardly fell below 80 and was often in the nineties. The effect was astonishing. It was too hot to sleep at night and too exhausting to walk, talk or (especially) work during the day. Nerves frayed. Tempers snapped like twigs. Railway carriages were like ovens; the Tube a scene out of Dante’s Inferno. Cultural and social life ceased; people just couldn’t summon the energy. And all those national traits that we hold so dear — fair play, humour, tolerance, compromise — evaporated faster than water in the reservoirs. Our mental and spiritual equilibrium depends on our isles being wrapped in the perpetual twilight of a perpetual autumn. A stiff breeze, rain in the air, dark clouds gathering, the delicious forecast of unsettled weather for weeks to come: that is what fuels our sense of irony, moderates our moods and preserves our sanity.
        - Richard Morrison, "Global Warming Is Not For Us", "The Times"

Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign.
        - from a letter to "The Telegraph"

The Welsh have never made any significant contribution to any branch of knowledge, culture or entertainment. They have no architecture, no gastronomic tradition, no literature worthy of the name... Choral singing, usually flat, seems to be their only artistic attainment.
        - AN Wilson, as literary critic of "The Evening Standard" (1993)

Never ask an English person for directions. They're too polite to tell you if they don't know the way, and will send you somewhere else instead. Usually Wales.
        - Joe O'Connor


"So you're French and Canadian, yes? So you're obnoxious and dull? You're in North America, learn the language!"
        - Triumph the Insult Dog is let loose in Quebec by Conan O'Brien on "Late Night"

Alexa McDonough, former leader of the New Democratic Party, denounced Triumph's conduct as "utterly vile" "racist filth" and "vicious hatemongering." ...Let's go back to Triumph the dog's contention that Quebec men are mostly homosexual. In 1991, Edith Cresson made the same allegation against the British. At the time, she was the prime minister of France. In other words, she wasn't just Conan O'Brien's hand puppet; she was President Mitterrand's hand puppet. And she was flesh and blood, which was indeed the main basis of her assertion: She claimed that as a vibrant sensual woman she found more men came on to her in the streets of Paris than London and concluded from this that Englishmen were obviously gay.
Instead of falling into po-faced whining like The Toronto Star, Britain's Sun ran a picture of two Frenchmen carrying those dinky little male purses they're partial to over there, under the headline: "They Don't Call It Gay Paree For Nothing." Instead of huffing and puffing about "racist filth" like Canadian Members of Parliament, one British MP attempted to introduce the following motion: "This House does not fancy elderly French women." That's the way a mature, confident society deals with such provocations — with cheap jokes and extensive lists of "Famous French Poofs" — not the reflexive cringe that cries "racism" and calls for "hate crimes" investigations.
        - Mark Steyn, "The Wall Street Journal"

"Don't mind her: she's French-Canadian. Some days she's Canadian and can be quite pleasant. Today she's obviously French."
        - from "Vertical Limit"

The conscientious Canadian critic is one who subscribes to the New York Times so that he knows first hand what his opinion should be.
        - Eric Nicol, 1968

Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada, while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States.
        - J. Bartlett Brebner

You have perhaps heard the story of the four students - British, French, American, Canadian - who were asked to write an essay on elephants. The British student entitled his essay "Elephants and the Empire." The French student called his "Love and the Elephant." The title of the American student's essay was "Bigger and Better Elephants," and the Canadian student called his "Elephants: A Federal or Provincial Responsibility?"
        - Robert H. Winters

"Canada has at last produced a political leader worthy of assassination."
        - Irving Layton about Pierre Trudeau

"He has a French name, he thinks like an Englishman, and he looks like an Indian. We all feel very guilty about the Indians here in Canada."
        - Marshall McLuhan, explaining Pierre Trudeau's longevity in Canadian politics

For some reason a glaze passes over people's faces when you say "Canada". Maybe we should invade South Dakota or something.
        - Sandra Gotlieb, wife of the Canadian ambassador to the U.S.

God has made Canada one of those nations which cannot be conquered and cannot be destroyed, except by itself.

- Norman Angell, "Canada's Best Service for British Ideals" (1913) Canadian consumers race across the border to buy the kind of cheap goods that a country with low wages and a third-rate social security system can produce. So empty are their lives, apparently, that a three-hour lineup of cars at the border coming back is viewed as an acceptable trade-off. - Charles Gordon "Ah, three hours next to the dullest man in Canada — and that's a pretty competitive category."
        - Ruth, preparing for a diplomatic dinner, "The Girl in the Cafe"

"If I had a dollar for every time I had 60 cents I would be Canada."
        - caption from a "Toothpaste for Dinner" cartoon

"You have to know a Canadian really well to discover his surname."
        - John Buchan, former Governor General of Canada

You know the joke about how polite Canadians are. If a movie is great, they say it's "very good," and if a movie is terrible, they say it's "fairly good."
        - Roger Ebert, movie critic

There are, of course, several things in Ontario that are more dangerous than wolves. For instance, the step-ladder.
        - JW Curran

Hard to tell a Canadian from an extremely boring regular white person unless he's dressed to go outdoors.
        - PJ O'Rourke, Foreigners Around the World in "National Lampoon"


"What do you say to a Muslim woman with two black eyes? Nothing! You told her twice already!"

"How many Palestinians does it take to change a light bulb? None! They sit in the dark forever and blame the Jews for it!"

"What do you call a first-time offender in Saudi Arabia? Lefty!"

"What does the sign say above the nursery in a Palestinian maternity ward? 'Live ammunition.'"

[1] Seen on "Talk Nation" by Aubrey Malone

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