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OK UK?: Sorry About That...

Updated on December 15, 2011
Look at how sorry I am...
Look at how sorry I am...

This Is One Sorry Hub...

There is nothing so quintessentially English as apologizing. We do it with such abandon, that no person, place, or thing, is safe from a perfunctory apology. My dear departed Father spent his entire life apologizing, ad nauseam, to inanimate objects that crossed his path.

There is a genuine sense of (polite) competition between English people who inadvertently bump into each other, as to who can apologize first.

Speed of apology is incredibly important. To be considered well bred, apologies should trip off the tongue instantly. To appear to think about it decreases the value of the apology, and questions not only your family line, but your personal sincerity.

And, sincerity is, in and of itself, a critical component. Saying sorry and not meaning it, is punishable by law. (By being sent straight to bed without any supper.) Now, there is a difference between an insincere sorry, and a sarcastic sorry, but, unless you are English, you would not understand, sorry.

As individuals we are, indeed, a sorry lot. But it is as a collective that we are most sorry. We are terribly sorry for stomping over all those foreign lands and trying to take over the world. Not sure what got into us really. I mean, we believe God was on our side and all that, but it transpires, through careful research, that God’s son was in fact, not born in England. Some Jewish gal had him, in Israel of all places, and it would appear that no Englishman was involved at all, sorry.

Oh, and we are very, very, sorry for taking all your stuff, but we had this British Museum that was a bit empty, and all these Merchant banks who needed your money. We’ll give it back if you promise to look after it, and not get mad at us. We feel bad enough all ready.

We are sorry for talking about the war all the time. We are, however, not sorry for beating the Germans. Twice. That Hitler chap was not very nice. Charging into Poland without as much as a by your leave, and never, not once, ever, saying sorry to that nice Mr. Chamberlain. The poor man flew over to Channel to see Adolf, even though he was feeling a little under the weather, and was promised that there would be peace in our time, even had a signed piece of paper. What a stinker. Not sorry he’s gone. And Germany, trying to say you are sorry now to all the children of Israel, nice idea, but it is a day late and a shekel short.

Other countries have jumped on the sorry bandwagon. Who can forget America’s sorry entry into the world of apologizing, the tearful televangelists and the politicians with their pants around their ankles? Not sure about the waterworks though. Genuine sincerity is best expressed with a stiff upper lip and poignant, but obscure, words. And, as to having your wife standing next to you, holding your hand, as you apologize for having confused sex with some man, what kind of monster apology do you now owe her?

I need to take issue here with the growth of the fake apology. Saying you are sorry that someone took your words or actions as an insult, or in the wrong way, is not saying sorry. Well, it kind of is, but it is more of an, “I’m sorry that I got caught,” don’t you think? I’m pretty sure Mel is sorry he’s been outed as a bigot or that Charlie is a sorry abuser of women. (I always wondered about the “Two and a half Men” title. Not sure Mr. Sheen deserves even the half status.)

Entire nations are having a go at being sorry. Australia is terribly sorry about stealing aboriginal children, South Africa is sorry about that apartheid thing, Austria is sorry about starting the whole Nazi thing, and Switzerland is dreadfully sorry about hording all that money and art and stuff from the war. Even the Catholic Church is sorry that it fostered worldwide child abuse, though I suspect that they are rather more sorry they got caught. Let’s pray for them. (That’s like a very big sorry with God on your side.)

There is so much to be sorry for, I wonder if the missing matter in the universe is actually an apology particle? When they fire up the giant donut at CERN again, (apologies for the breakdowns and delays), will they find tiny sorry waves?

Realistically though, England could not function without almost constant apologies. Our transportation system is in a sorry state, and apologies for delays and cancellations are all that prevent serious civil unrest. And, if the Prime Minister weren’t apologizing for something, what would the newspapers have to write about? And, we really do need to apologize for our dreadful weather…

But, back to basics, sorry, if you don't mind? Why do the English feel the need to apologize for everything? I believe it is the sorry nature of our education.

As sad little five year olds we enter our school system to have all vestiges of self-esteem surgically removed from us. Our first names are stripped from the record so that we can be henceforth addressed by the untitled patronymic. Being hailed as “Lincoln!” or “You, boy!” makes you feel insecure, worthless and, of course, sorry. In this manner your betters quickly establish the hierarchical order and you had better believe that you are nothing better than the sniveling little snot they say you are.

No teacher or coach ever called me by my first name, though upon turning eighteen I was addressed as Mr. Lincoln. I would simply look around for my father and apologize.

And, as for this hub, well, I sincerely apologize for even bringing the issue up. I am truly sorry. I’m not even sure why I brought it up, and I humbly, and unashamedly, beg your forgiveness…

Too much?

Sorry about that…

Dear Hub Reader

If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,

Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,

A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.

Available directly from:



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    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      True - so true! Maybe adults should listen to the kids more:)

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Writing this drove me nuts, I got to the point where I wasn't sure how to spell the word!

      I had a middle school girl encapsulate this beautifully when she said, "Sorry is not something you say, it's something you feel." as she refused to apologise to a classmate she had used some inappropriate language with...

      There is some wisdom in there...

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I am so sorry I didn't get around to this one sooner! I think people say sorry so much - the word loses it's true meaning and I wonder if they REALLY are sorry!? I usually have to pout and think about it before I can say a real "I'm sorry."

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      You could always write an Aussie version.

      Wait, do Aussies even say sorry? The word is like 100% pom, as I believe I proved above.

      Sorry about that, buy you a lager?


    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      Sorry Mr Lincoln, but this was a sorry hub and i'm sorry that i didn't think of it first.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California

      Sue, can't comment if you don't write, so hop to it girl...

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 6 years ago from Indiana

      Chris- your comments are the reason I write my hubs! Sorry, but there it is.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I'm still mad at you for fluffing up the fan mail you promised!

      You wrote a similar hub not so long ago, I stole your idea, and I am not even slightly sorry, so there...

      I'm all done with apologizing now.

      Love getting comments from you, thanks.

      Now write some funny so I can leave inappropriate comments on your sorry hubs!


    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 6 years ago from Indiana

      I actually commented on this hub a few days ago, then walked away without posting. I have NO IDEA where my comment went.

      I am SO SORRY.

      No, really. I'm an incredibly sorry individual.

      Wow, what a sorry job of commenting.

      Great hub!

      That was still pretty sorry.



      I mean it.

      Does that make me good at being sorry?

      Which in turn makes me not-so-sorry?

      I think, perhaps I'm not getting the sorry thing down!

      How sorry is that???

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I'm sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about. Sorry, meant to type "have an idea", my fault, well you can hardly blame the computer can you? Bless its little cotton socks.

      When nice people say sorry, I believe it is just an extension of their exceedingly pleasant personalities, you want to go with that? Will the kids buy it?


    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Thanks for the positives...

      As for Cheers over Sorry - can't help you there, sorry and all that, I've been in California for almost twenty years, and I'm still dealing with the fact that they started ending sentences with "init?" back in the UK!


    • Pixienot profile image

      Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

      Chris - I am one of those persons who grew up saying "sorry" to in-animated objects. I have worked real hard on this and I am pleased to say I seldom do it today.

      I completely understand your rant. Sorry to have to tell you this but my kids have been telling me forever to stop saying "I'm sorry." Hmm, guess I didn't have to tell you, did I? Oh well, I did.

      Good hub.

      Voted up!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hilarious! And as much as you'd like to apologize for it, this is a great Hub. :)

      BTW, I noticed in the last few times I was in London that people don't say "Sorry" when they bump into you anymore, as much as "Cheers," which, to my American ears at least, sounds very strange. Is this a new phenomenon?

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California

      Why, Thank you Ms. Cat7, or may I call you Suzie?

      One does not like to presume, sorry if I'm being rather forward :)


    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great Hub! I'm sorry it had to end.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I think that reading it within the hour of publication is pretty darned fast, (sorry about the language!)


    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      No apology necessary. I'm truly sorry I didn't read it earlier!

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Thank You. I'm amazed at how quickly you responded to my last couple of hubs, but very grateful that you follow, read, and comment.

      When I was back in England, people would start a sentence with "sorry", and then circumnavigate around the point they were trying to make - I have to say I prefer the more open speech, direct even, in my adopted homeland.



    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "Sorry" is an expression of remorse, but how remorseful is someone who apologizes with a qualifier like, "I'm sorry, (but only) if you were offended."

      True remorse among politicians and cheating spouses is rare. Their remorse ring hollow indeed, especially when they trot out their abused partner and abuse them one more time by using them as shields.

      Great Hub!