TRAVEL TRAIN SPOTTERSBy  | Posted on January 24th, 2014

We Brits rarely blow our own national trumpet. But if pushed we will admit to having a wicked sense of humor. Foreigners have every right to be perplexed by the stuff we riff on—from gingers to horse meat.

The term refers to the anorak-wearing British men folk (and it is nearly always males) who chose to spend their free time standing by the side of railway tracks waiting for trains to go by. When this happens, they scribble down the engine’s make and model number in a little book. It’s thrilling stuff. Anyhow, in Britain the term “train-spotter” has evolved to mean “super-nerd” and we use it liberally.

Some Americans will know this one because they watch The Only Way is Essex, a.k.a. TOWIE, on Hulu. But anyone else will need it explaining why, exactly, Brits give the folks from this particular home county such a hard time. Essex residents, we’ve decided, are shallow, slutty and they wear a lot of fake tan. Tell any curious Americans to think of Essex as Britain’s New Jersey equivalent and they’ll get the idea.

England always losing on penalties
Fans of England’s national football team just know that, not only will we be knocked out of any major international tournament, but it’ll happen on penalties. I think we’re actually quite pleased when this happens, because we were proved right. Which for Brits is often more important than winning. It’s our national sense of fatalism that’s the joke here. Example: when England was knocked out of the World Cup by Portugal on penalties in 2006, the BBC cut straight to “Numb” by the Pet Shop Boys.