What the Brits say and what they really mean
Sir, As an American writer living in the UK, I have learnt that the composure locked into its people manages to escape to their language. So mannerly are the British that even when they are seething with indignation, rarely do they speak up, and if they do, what they actually mean is almost always obscured by how they express themselves.
Last week, President Donald Trump’s spokesman suggested that the British spy agency helped President Barack Obama eavesdrop on Mr Trump during his campaign, whereupon a British spokesman for GCHQ responded that the claim was “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous”. What was really meant was: “You are an idiot and I don’t like you.”
Only when the British are extremely irked do they draw a line; but, even then, it’s usually foreshadowed by the verbal fair warning of “with all due respect”. There was no “due respect” for the White House when the British government demanded an apology. Why should there have been? And, here, the Brits have managed to express precisely what they feel. Eden Collinsworth London W1. UK