How To Handle Foreigners

And, of course, don't mention the war

With the 2012 London Olympics drawing ever closer, Britain’s national tourism agency wants to make sure that the tradespeople of Knifecrime Island show their least stabby faces to international visitors. To that end, VistiBritain has provided a helpful list of foreign characteristics aimed at avoiding offense. They’re all pretty great, but if I had to pick just five it would be these.

• “A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy.”

• “Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian.”

• “When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes or their 1845–6 war with America.”

• “Despite stereotypes, Poles are not large consumers of alcohol and excessive drinking is frowned upon.”

• “Canadians may take offence if labeled American. Some Canadians get so annoyed about being mistaken for US citizens they identify themselves by wearing a maple leaf as pin badge or as a symbol on their clothing.”

You will, of course, have your own favorites. A wide variety of obscene gestures are also identified, so you might want to clip and save this one.