The British can be particularly and stubbornly conservative about anything which is perceived as a token of Britishness. In these matters, their conservatism can combine with their individualism; they are rather proud of being different. It is: for example, very difficult to imagine that they will ever agree to change from driving on the left-hand side of the road to driving on the right. It doesn`t matter that nobody can think of any intrinsic advantage in driving on the left. Why should they change just to be like everyone else? Indeed, as far as they are concerned, not being like everyone else is a good reason not to change.
Developments at European Union (EU) level which might cause a change in some everyday aspect of British life are usually greeted with suspicion and hostility. The case of double-decker buses is an example. Whenever an EU committee makes a recommendation about standardizing the size and shape of these is provokes warning from British bus builders about “the
end of the double-decker bus as we know it”. The British public is always ready to listen to such predictions of doom.
Systems of measurement are another example. The British government has been trying for years and years to promote the metric system and to get British people to use the same scales that are used nearly everywhere else in the world. But it has had only limited success. British manufacturers are obliged to give the weight of their tins and packets in kilos and grams. But everybody in Britain still shops in pounds and ounces. The weather forecasters on television use the Celsius scale of temperature. But nearly everybody still thinks in Fahrenheit. British people continue to measure distances, amounts of liquids and themselves using scales of measurement that are not used anywhere else in Europe. Even the use of 24-hour clock is comparatively restricted.
British government sometimes seems to promote. this pride ill being different. In 1993 the managers of a pub in Slough (west of London) started selling glasses of beer which they called “swifts” (25 cl) and “larges” (50 c1), smaller amounts than the traditional British equivalent of half a pint and a pint. You might think that the authorities would have been pleased at this
voluntary effort to adopt European habits. But they were not. British law demands that draught beer be sold in pints and half-pints only. `The pub was fined $3,100 by a court and was ordered to stop selling the “continental” measures. British government have so far resisted pressure from business people to adopt Central European Time, remaining stubbornly one hour behind, and they continue to start their financial year not, as other countries do, at the beginning of the calendar year but at the beginning of April!