Book Reviews · Humor · Non-fiction

Very British Problems

If you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime account, chances are you’ve come across a television series called Very British Problems. The series, which had a run of two seasons, is based on a series of books written by Rob Temple.

The first book in the series, Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward For Ourselves One Rainy Day At A Time, discusses some of the issues faced by people living in Great Britain today. The book is arranged into sections that cover individual topics, such as: the “unwritten rules” of British society, manners, dealing with people on various forms of public transportation, eating in restaurants, and (of course) the weather. Most of the VBPs that are shared in these sections can be summed up in a single sentence, though there are a few problems that require a little more explanation.

One of my favorite sections in this particular book is titled “The Very British Test,” which provides the reader with a series of multiple choice questions to help you determine whether or not you are actually suffering from VBPs. As anyone who knows me might suspect, my results indicated that I am definitely a person with a great many Very British Problems. Oh well. At least I’m not the only one…

More Very British Problems: Life Just Got Awkward(er) focuses on the Very British Problems that can come up when British people travel outside the country. This book covers everything from planning your vacation and packing, to problems that occur during different types of vacations (cruises, camping, the beach, etc.). The section about being on a cruise was one of my favorite parts of this particular book. Having been on a cruise to Alaska, during which the movie Titanic was shown while we were in Glacier Bay, I found the following VBP extremely funny…

“Making a mental note to stop mentioning the Titanic quite so often in communal areas.”

More Very British Problems: Life Just Got Awkward(er), Rob Temple, page 127

I still maintain that the cruise director on that particular ship had a somewhat questionable sense of humor.

Book three in the series is titled Very British Problems: Still Awkward, Still Raining. In addition to discussing the weather, pets, and various job-related VBPs, this book also includes several sections about a wide range of activities that a British person might find themselves having to deal with, such as: discussing politics, attending meetings at work, dieting, going to a movie, and using social media and technology.

“Being unable to go to the cinema without trying to recall the date of the last time you went to the cinema.”

Very British Problems:Still Awkward, Still Raining, Rob Temple, page 48

The most recent book in Rob Temple’s series is Very British Problems: The Most Awkward One Yet. This volume covers the VBPs that arise at the New Year and Christmas, and also discusses activities such as Spring cleaning and yoga. Also included is a section on the Brexit, which begins with the following VBP: “Featuring Brexit in a book due for release at the end of 2019 fully and sadly confident that it’ll still be highly relevant” (11).

All four of these books are enjoyable, quick reads that will likely have you laughing out loud. In addition to the VBPs listed in each book, Rob Temple includes funny illustrations that feature a well-dressed gentleman in some very awkward situations. But what I love about these books is how easily I can relate to many of these Very British Problems. I’ve often said that I was born in the wrong century, but perhaps I was simply born in the wrong country. It certainly sounds like I would fit right in.

Have you already read and enjoyed these books, or loved the television series? If so, and if you’ve got a Twitter account, you might be interested in following Very British Problems @SoVeryBritish. You might be surprised by the number of VBPs that you relate to…even if you aren’t actually British.

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