The British government is, at the time of writing (autumn 2003) proposing that potential immigrants be made to sit an exam to test their ability to integrate with British society.
I'm all in favour - if I wanted to go and live in a foreign country, I would expect them to expect me to know something about them and make some effort to fit in - learn the language, customs, and a little of the history, nothing too taxing. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask this, as long as the questions aren't along the lines of 'have you got brown skin? If not, bad luck, you've failed.'
Here's my take on what the exam should look like... (with hints for foreigners in footnotes)
No conferring. You are to be tested on your grasp of British culture, in comparison with other European and world cultures. Answer as a British person should. Some questions are trick questions. Some are not.
You want a hot meal but cannot be bothered to cook. What sort of food are you going to eat?
(a) Steroid-filled beef, limp lettuce, additive rich sauce and pickled gherkins in a sesame seed piece of cardboard, with a side order of fries, a bucket of coke and a couple of chocolate covered doughnuts.
(b) Fish and chips
(c) Chicken tikka massala 1
In what country was the most powerful man in the government born?
(c) Scotland 2
What is his correct title?3
In what country was the Prime Minister born?
In what country was the most powerful man in the country born?
Write down the theme tune to 'Match of the Day', using only the words 'dat' and 'daa'. Points deducted for using musical notation, so don't.
Who won 'two world wars and one world cup', doo daa?8
When was the last time England won the World Cup?9
When did the UK abolish the death penalty?10
How many bob are there in a quid?11
If a man is trying to 'skive a fag' is he
(b) a cobbler13
(c) someone trying to get a cigarette without paying for it14
You are in an auditorium. On stage is a middle aged man unconvincingly dressed as a woman, an attractive young woman with good legs pretending to be a boy, and man with his head up another man's bottom pretending to be a horse. Are you:
(a) a pervert?15
(b) an intellectual observing a bizarre piece of experimental theatre?16
(c) a parent introducing their child to the magic of British festive traditional entertainment?17
Your daughter has left home and married a man you do not approve of. The correct response in modern Britain is:
(a) hire a private detective to hunt her down, then go round to her house, cover her in petrol and set light to her18
(b) wonder quietly to yourself where you went wrong and ponder perhaps whether you shouldn't have named her after the star of an Australian soap opera and pierced her ears at the age of 18 months19
(c) go on a daytime television show and throw an item of furniture at her20
It is the middle of the night. A gang of thieves has broken into your home. You are alone. You have no idea how well armed they are, or what their intentions are. What, in modern Britain, are you allowed to do:
(a) chase them down like dogs and kill them where you find them, they are criminal scum and deserve no better21
(b) defend yourself within your home to the best of your ability with the tools to hand - they're by definition criminals and deserve whatever they get while they are in your home in breach of the law22
(c) nothing at all, in case you frighten or otherwise upset them and they sue you, after all it's society's fault they're criminals23
What is the minimum wage in the UK?
(a) £4.50 an hour - the minimum a person should expect to be paid in a civilised nation24
(b) £3.80 an hour - because although food costs exactly the same for younger people, they're presumably expected to eat less than people over 2125
(c) £1.00 an hour if you're an illegal immigrant working on a farm in Lincolnshire, because you're lucky you're getting paid at all26
It is 35 degrees Celsius in the shade. You are going out for a walk. What are you going to wear?
(a) A string vest, a shirt with the top button done up, a tie, a waistcoat, a jacket, an overcoat, and a small velvet hat with the flag of Pakistan sewn into it27
(b) A pair of trousers with the legs rolled up, a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a knotted hanky and a pair of clip ons over your spectacles28
(c) A pair of loud bermuda shorts and no sunscreen29
It is minus ten degrees Celsius, dark and snowing. You are going out to the pub. What are you going to wear?
(a) A string vest, a shirt with the top button done up, a tie, a waistcoat, a jacket, an overcoat, and a small velvet hat with the flag of Pakistan sewn into it30
(b) A pair of light khaki combats, trainers with short white socks, a thin t-shirt and no jacket31
(c) A pair of stilletto heels, a skirt so short it looks like a belt, a nork hammock and a tattoo on your left arm of a red rose32
You are watching a sporting event. Your team have just lost. What do you do?
(a) Ruefully but politely applaud the winners and commiserate with the gallant losers33
(b) Immediately transfer your attention to another event you're likely to win and give no further coverage to the event you lost34
(c) Find some fans of the opposing team and stab them to death, while your police force jail innocent bystanders for being the wrong nationality35
What does the word 'innit' mean?
(a) 'inside it'36
(b) 'isn't it'37
(c) anything you want it to because you use it in every sentence38
Several men are standing out in the open in broad daylight in a public place looking at aircraft through binoculars and writing down their numbers in notebooks. Are they:
(a) engaging in a perfectly normal hobby?39
(b) a bit sad but basically harmless?40
(c) obviously highly trained spies who must immediately be locked up in the cause of national security?41
You have a slight cough, so you go to the doctor. What treatment do you expect?
(a) A sympathetic ear, advice on what generic medicine to take, and all for free42
(b) A credit check, and treatment only if you can afford it43
(c) A prescription for drugs you don't need to treat virus you haven't got, unnecessary admission to hospital so they can soak you for more cash and huge bills from doctors who threaten you if you disagree with their diagnosis44
What would you describe as REALLY BAD weather?
(a) A tornado which lifts houses into the air and tears large trees out by their roots45
(b) A monsoon which washes away your entire town which had just recovered from the earthquake46
(c) Two inches of snow which despite having been predicted for a week still causes all public services to grind to a halt47
Someone accidentally steps on your foot. Do you:
(a) Pull a nine and cap their ass48
(b) Scream insults at them and shove them off you with the points of your elbows49
(c) Apologise for having put your toes under their foot50
You arrive in front of a ticket window at a railway station. Several people, including some elderly people and a pregnant woman, were there before you. Do you
(a) wait patiently for your turn, forming an orderly queue51
(b) complain loudly about the level of customer service and say that if you were at home there'd be more windows open52
(c) elbow your way to the front as soon as possible, just like everyone else53
Your breath and indeed whole body smell appallingly of garlic. Do you:
(a) Apologise and try not to breath too heavily at anyone54
(b) Take great delight in watching people repulsed by your stench, and deliberately use lots of words with 'h' in them to maximise their discomfort55
(c) not notice, because doesn't EVERYONE smell like that56
You are extremely good at a particular sport. Do you:
(a) never fail to tell everyone about it, refuse to play anything else, take delight in winning all the time57
(b) make it the centre of your existence to the exclusion of friends, social life or education58
(c) diffidently admit if pressed that yes, you play a bit, for fun, and then carefully let your opponent scrape a win to avoid offending them59
You have just drunk five pints of lager. Are you:
(a) an alcoholic?60
(b) on a perfectly ordinary and acceptable social night out61
(c) a lightweight soft southern jessie who is five pints behind the real men62
How often do you go to church?
(b) Only for weddings, baptisms, funerals, and midnight mass when you're smashed on Xmas eve
(c) You attend the mosque for all the prayer sessions you can reach, and pray at work63
What is the difference between a public school and a private school?64
What is a sensible size for a car engine?
(a) 650cc - dense populations should recognise their responsibility to the environment65
(b) 1600cc - furry dice and turbo charger also necessary66
(c) 8000cc - with bars on the front you can tie a dead deer to67
Can you find Britain on a map?
(a) Yes, of course, how do you think I got here?68
(b) Why would I have to, I'm here already, aren't I?69
(c) Only if it was a map of Britain, and maybe not even then.70
Can you speak English?
(a) Yes, enough to get by71
(b) Oh aye, chuck, appen a can that an all72
(c) Sure I can boy, but if you ask me for a fag one more time I'll have to kick you in the fanny73
You have lost your job. What happens now?
(a) You starve74
(b) You get welfare, for a while. Then you starve75
(c) You get generous benefits, counselling, resources to help you find work, even an interpreter if you don't speak the language well enough to claim without help76
You are in a foreign country. You would like a beer. Do you
(a) greet the barman warmly in his native tongue, ask him how he's doing, comment on the clement weather, and incidentally ask for a beer?77
(b) order two beers, because that's the extent of your knowledge of the local lingo78
(c) say 'gimme a beer', and if you don't get one, call in an airstrike79
The head of the government has had an extra-marital affair with a woman twenty years younger than him. He should be:
(d) left to sort out his private life in private, after all don't all successful men have mistresses?83
The most important factor you consider when you buy a car is:
(d) whether it's appeared in a hit movie starring Michael Caine, Angelina Jolie or James Bond87
(a) something that, if you can't dip something in it, you can pour over it - waffles, donuts, hell we can chocolate coat a steak if you want88
(b) something cheap and sweet you give to kids89
(c) someting expensive and bitter you don't waste on kids90
(a) is a drink which must be savoured in as pure a form as possible91
(b) is a drink which must be adulterated in as many ways as possible by decaffeination, addition of cream, marshmallows, and Bod knows what else.92
(c) tastes nicer with Coffee-Mate93
Explain the following, using diagrams where necessary:
(a) the offside rule94
(c) the junction of the M6 and the A38(M) north of Birmingham96
The perfect purveyor of pop music would be:
(a) Three or four thin blonde girls whose talents need stretch no further than making some vapid attempt to mime and to wear as few clothes as possible, possibly fronted by a greasy man old enough to be their father97
(b) A stage school diva or a barely post-pubescent boy with a wispy goatee and perfectly choreographed dance moves98
(c) A guy behind some drums, three blokes with guitars and some talent99
You are going to give money to charity. Most deserving are:
(a) The starving.
(b) The homeless.
A person speaks English, but with a different accent than you do. You:
(a) Listen with interest to what they have to say, as they clearly must have different life experiences than yourself.
(b) Essay a bad attempt at their accent, with hilarious consequences.
(c) Look down your nose at them, or possibly beat them up101
What is the proper duration for a sporting event?
(a) 90 minutes of play, with 15 minutes for half time.
(b) 90 minutes of play, with about four hours for 'time outs', conflabs, breaks to go to the toilet, 'time for a word from our sponsor' and for women in short skirts to make an exhibition of themselves
(c) five days102
What is a reasonable score for an exciting sporting event?
(c) A draw forced by rain on the final day103
You are a homosexual university student. You fully expect at some point to be:
(a) beaten up and possibly killed
(b) seduced by one of your lecturers
(c) recruited into the intelligence services of two different countries104
JK Rowling is:
(a) a hack writer who got lucky105
(b) the greatest living writer in the English language106
(c) the hell-spawn tool of Satan in corrupting youth into the ways of the occult107
Terry Pratchett is:
(a) a hack writer who got lucky108
(b) the greatest living writer in the English language109
(c) Terry who?110
Cockney, or mockney?
(a) Michael Caine111
(b) Bob Hoskins112
(c) Jamie Oliver113
(d) Dick van Dyke114
A droopy eyed, borderline catatonic parlour conjuror sits in a perspex box without food. The sensible response to this is to:
(a) ignore it115
(b) bow down in awe and wonder and find a TV camera at which you can over-exaggerate how unbelievable it is116
(c) chuck some eggs at the loonie for a giggle then go for a curry117
Please answer all the questions you are able. Write on only one side of the paper at once. Protractors may be used where necessary. The use of calculators, pencils, dividers, compasses, satellite global positioning systems and tactical nuclear devices is forbidden within the exam room. Please hand in your paper to the invigilator as you leave. Your passport will be ready in two weeks, or three days after you need it, whichever is later. Thank you for applying to be a British citizen. Have a sh*te day - I am.