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Life In Britain

The British are very polite and have good manners. They don not shake hands or kiss hello as people on the Continent. They like spending their leisure time at home with the family, pets (dogs, cats, caged birds). They have good table manners. They enjoy their breakfasts and most of all the traditional tea around 4 or 5 o’clock.

The normal working week is arranged as a five-day week and gives about 40 hours for manual workers and about 38 for non-manual work. Factory workers usually start at 8 a.m. and offices, shops and schools start at 9 a.m. Wage-earning workers are paid weekly, salary earners are paid once a month. Manual workers have 3 week holidays and professional workers (people with higher education) have usually longer holidays. In addition to this they have “bank” or “public holidays”. They are e.g. (New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday).

An average Englishman likes to live in his own house. About 64 per cent of houses in Britain are owned by people who live in them, the rest is owned by public authorities and is rented.
Houses are made of red bricks or concrete, stone and wood, somewhere you can still find half-timbered houses with thatched roofs. The houses have usually 4 to 6 rooms, two floors, small front and back gardens and are either semidetached (joined to another house on one side only) or terraced house (joined on both sides) or detached house (stay alone). On the ground floor there are: a hall, a kitchen, a living room with a fireplace and on the first floor there are parent’s and children’s bedrooms and a bathroom.
The prices of houses vary and depend on the area – the most expensive are the houses in London and South England, smaller houses in other areas are cheaper.

The National Health Service (NHS) gives largely free treatment for everyone living in Britain. People can choose their family doctors (GP = general practitioner). In case of emergency you can call an ambulance by dialling 999 from any telephone. About 7 per cent of hospital, dentist and family doctors care is private. A small number of hospitals is run by religious or charitable organizations.
Social Welfare includes also various benefits, e.g. retirement pensions (men above 65 and women above 60), sickness benefits, invalidity pensions, injury benefits etc.

There are many daily and Sunday newspapers, many weekly papers and many periodical publications. The oldest newspaper is The Times. Other famous newspapers are Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Mail etc.
The British TV service was the world’s first public TV service. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) operates 2 national TV channels and 4 national and 32 local radio stations. Its overseas service – The BBC World Service transmits in English and other 36 languages.

British money: pound, pence (notes, coins). Major credit cards are widely accepted.
Passport and customs control: Foreign visitors are asked to fill in a landing card. The customs procedures operate with a green and red “clearway system”. In Britain Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on most goods or services at a rate of about 15 per cent. Visitors buying goods for export can reclaim VAT.
Road Traffic: Road regulations are given in the Highway Code. The majority of British traffic signs are to international standards. In Britain they drive on the left and overtake on the right. The wearing of seat belts is compulsory for driver and front-seat passenger.

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