There is one topic regarding life in Britain that I have consciously avoided writing about — until now.
It is something every woman is dying to know more about and something every man is secretly intrigued by. It is the irresistible appeal of British men.
I have withheld submitting my observations on the matter because I’m most certain that my British boyfriend will read the piece with a sharp analytical eye. But when he gave me his blessing for my next column — unbeknownst to him just what he was doing, of course — I knew I had to run with it.
“What shall I write about for next Saturday’s Advocate?” I mused.
“Write about me,” he said. His suggestion came in the typical British manner — dry, sarcastic and perfectly figurative.
I’m a literal kind of person, though, and while I won’t serve him the embarrassment of an entire feature just on him, I’m convinced I have all the permission I need to finally press forward with my thoughts on British men in general.
I have remained very quiet on the subject for some time actually — upon every visit home, I have been bombarded by ladies’ incessant inquiries about my experience with U.K. gents. While the opposite sex was never my inspiration for moving all those years ago, I confess that I’ve long been one of the many Canadian women who instinctively turn their heads when they hear a British accent.
Perhaps it is the idea of men protecting us from the rainy streets of London while they tuck us in close beneath their umbrellas. Or maybe it is a fascination with the oh-so-confident James Bond figure who can always outwit the bad guy with his traditionally chiseled cheekbones and rippling six pack.
Whatever it is, there is no denying that Canadian women are subject to the magnetism of a British man.
And while I hate to break the fantasy, I feel obliged to say that there is a real mix of boys from Britain. Like Canadian lads, there is no one stereotype British men subscribe to.
And let me get something straight now. Scots are not all dreamy replicas of Sean Connery. Daniel Craig’s striking blue eyes are not shared by all English males. And yes, Colin Farrell is fantastic, but you’ll be disappointed if you visit Belfast expecting to see a line of beautiful Irishmen marching through the streets (although that accent is incredible).
But there is a whole spectrum of men to suit every woman’s taste, and most of them come equipped with the natural charm and polite manner inherent to the British nature. Pickup lines fall by the wayside in the U.K. (and where they don’t, there is much more skill to be found elsewhere). British gents are the masters of pursuing women in such a fashion that the subject might never know they were pursued.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself deep in the heat of conversation with some charming guy, having forgotten how the whole thing started.
It’s that first barrier — the single first act of acceptance from a woman — that British men seem to know how to bypass in order to get onto a pathway that leads from mere co-existence to a genuine encounter and, if they play their cards right, a first date.
How they do it is a great secret. The first move is always very subtle — accidentally bumping into you perhaps, or a mysterious glance that makes you look twice. It is never too forthright and a woman can never be completely confident where they stand, which makes a competitive girl like myself rise to the challenge.
I remember the first time I met my boyfriend clearly. Rather, I remember serving drinks to a striking English chap in an East London bar and naively explaining that my muddled accent was best described as Trans-Atlantic only moments before I was enthralled in a full fledged conversation.
Once they have you there, they can turn on that classic British charm and you’re as good as sold.
Women in Britain have learned to play the game right back, however, and once we North American girls smarten up to the act we might also detect a British man with a mission. Still, we’ll probably go on falling for it — why ruin the fun?
Brit Kennedy grew up in Red Deer and graduated from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School. She attended university in Scotland and is now living and working in London, England.