During my explorations throughout Leeds I discovered people watching can be the best past time. We attended a twenty-20* cricket match between Yorkshire and Warwickshire and a rugby league match between Leeds Rhinos and Hull Kingston Rovers, where people watching was the best part of the assignment. Before I get into my interpretations of the English culture I must first point out the queen of people watching, if you will, Kate Fox. Fox is an exceptional poet, comedian, and writer whose book “Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior” does exactly what the title infers and critiques the isms and quirks that make up the English society. In her chapter titled “Rules of Play,” Fox elaborates on the dos and don’ts of sporting events.
- Buy rounds of beer for your mates
- Cheer for the underdog granted they have earned recognition
- Focus on the details of the game
- Engage in any emotions besides surprise, anger, and triumph (males)
- Try to strike up casual conversation (all conversing must be strictly about the game itself)
- While playing a sport, conduct in anything seen as ‘unfair play’ (this is highly frowned upon)
By going to these cricket and rugby matches and actually submerging myself into this culture it becomes quite amusing how dead-on Fox’s observations were. At the t20 game we sat in the Western Terrace, aka the rowdy section. Most of the students who needed something to do before hitting up the local pubs sat in the top section, but even they abide by the “rules” of being a spectator. The rugby game was a completely different atmosphere. The rules were still in play but the game itself has way more action, causing the crowd to react and interact more with the game.
I am having fun people watching in everyday life scenes as well. For instance, dogs are a big deal here. The breeds of dogs all represent a different class of person. For instance the upper classes will have Labs and King Charles Spaniels, while the lower classes are more likely to have rottweilers and cocker spaniels. From what I have noticed, this observation is granted. The English are known for being reserved gritted-teeth types, and by having a dog they can somehow live vicariously through their dog.
I added a few pics of my cricket experience. Cameras are sort of not welcome at rugby matches so you will just have to believe me when I say it was extremely wet, rainy, and cold – but still awesome!
*twenty-20: (t20 cricket) was initiated in England and Wales in 2003 as an attempt to bring more attention and fan base to the sport. It is a condensed version of traditional cricket consisting of each team pitching 20 overs.