Let's Party

Let's Party challenges you on British customs and festivals.

The English-speaking world is just as fond of partying and having a good time as anyone else. We have plenty of our own customs and habits on such occasions as Festivals. How much do you know about these? 'Let's party' and find out!

  1. Many parties have a 'theme' to them, particular to the occasion or just for its own sake (to make them more interesting, and give people who already know one another something new to talk about when they meet). If you are being invited to such a party, and may need time to find special clothes or 'properties' (characteristic objects, such as a witch's broomstick), the invitation should make this clear. What is the standard general phrase to tell you so?
    'Fancy Dress' is the general term for extravagant / occasional / 'character' / otherwise non-usual clothing.
  2. You are being invited to a summer evening party (maybe in a garden, if you're lucky and the weather holds!), and someone says, almost casually, 'I expect we'll be having some Pimms'. Who or what is/are these?
    Pimms (R) is indeed a brand of drink, favoured on such occasions as summer sports meetings and open-air classical concerts (among many others).
  3. Almost every November since 1927, the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) has organised a rally of classic old cars along the main road between London and which coastal town?
    Brighton is the correct destination: there was a classic film made in 1953, based around a participating car called 'Genevieve'. All the cars must be built pre-1905 (so, now more than a century old) and they make their way down the A27 trunk road, a distance of some 55 miles (around 80 km).
  4. Probably the biggest annual gathering of people along the banks of the River Thames in London is when the spectators gather to watch the 'Boat Race', usually on a Saturday or Sunday in the early spring (around the same time as Easter). The two competing crews represent which major British institutions?
    It is always the Boat Clubs of the two ancient / leading Universities which compete. At time of writing (late 2013) Cambridge has won on a few more occasions than Oxford, with a few 'dead-heats' and the occasional accidental sinking along the way.
  5. Some British friends enthusiastically invite you to 'a ceilidh (pronounced as though spelt 'kaley') at the village hall next weekend'. From the context it's fairly obviously a community party of some kind; but what ought you to be especially aware of?
    The ceilidh (variously spelt in Scotland / Ireland) is a folk gathering where people share entertainment on a semi-spontaneous basis. If you have a simple song (for instance) from your own culture, such as a folksong, ballad or nursery rhyme ~ where everyone else could try joining in a couple of lines of the chorus in your language ~ that could be a much appreciated contribution to such an occasion, and make you some new friends.
    The Welsh meanwhile tend to do somewhat more 'their own thing' ... but would be just as likely to welcome your contribution.
  6. If you receive a party invitation (on paper, or on-screen) and it is marked ' P B A B ', what does this most likely mean?
    In the 'good old bad old days', PBAB might also have meant ' ... bring a bird ( = girl) / bloke ( = man)', but this is rather less likely now.
    It is, of course, assumed that the 'bottle' will be a full one, probably with something alcoholic, as a contribution to be shared during the party.
  7. 'Prom' in the USA and elsewhere usually means an elaborate party where young people leaving school hold a lavish, adult-style celebration to mark that important event in their lives. But to British and other people, 'the Last Night of the Proms' represents a party of a rather different kind. What is the official event at the heart of this party?
    The 'Promenade Concerts' are mostly held in the Albert Hall over several weeks in the summer, ending usually on the first or second Saturday of September. Large open-air 'satellite' concerts are also held in other venues around Britain, covered and kept in contact with one another by the BBC.
  8. Which vegetable is usually cooked to be eaten with the family turkey at Christmas, even though large numbers of people say they hate eating them?
    Yes; this is a strange British tradition, at least.
  9. Bank Holidays in Britain, except for 'specials' such as Christmas, almost always occur on a ... ...
    Monday is the traditional day, providing a 3-day 'weekend' (and postponing the 'Monday morning feeling' to the following Tuesday!).
  10. The song that is sung by everyone (who's awake!) to mark the turn of the New Year is called :
    These are the original first three words of the Scots song, but it exists in versions in many other languages (e.g. the French: 'Ce n'est qu'un au-revoir ...').

Author: Ian Miles

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