We Asked Anglophiles Why They Love Britain So Much

Overseas football casuals, mods and Perry boys told us what they like about our shitty little island.

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19 February 2019, 12:41pm

Egi and his fellow Indonesian casuals. Photo courtesy of Egi.

The UK is a small, sad set of islands, which is set to become even smaller and sadder after the 29th of March. Funny, then, that so many people around the world seem to love what we have to offer, whether it's our sickeningly twee obsession with "tea", those abysmal "Keep Calm..." posters or our bizarre lionisation of the billionaires who live in a castle in central London.

Slightly more understandable are the people who glorify the UK because of the many contributions we've made to music and subculture over the years. Still, do their impressions of this country really hold up to reality, or have Nick Love movies completely distorted their understanding of what life here is really like?

To find out, I spoke to four self-identifying Anglophiles: Mexican Perry-boy, Eddie; Malaysian skinhead, Azmer; Japanese mod, Yoshitaka; and Indonesian football casual. Egi.

EDDIE

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Photo courtesy of Eddie

VICE: Why are you such a fan of British culture?
Eddie: Firstly because of the music. The rock 'n' roll that's made in Britain is the best. I also like that Brits live for football. Nowhere else in the world follows it in such an intense way. I like their style as well.

What does Britishness mean to you?
Well, I imagine it must feel very good to be British and know you live in a country that has made a substantial cultural contribution to the world and been extremely influential. It must also feel good when everyone has their eyes on the people of your country, what they do and how they do it.

How did you end up becoming involved with such an obscure British subculture? Perry boys haven’t been around since the late 1970s, and only existed in Manchester.
It all started when my friends and I were part of a skinhead gang. You know everything that comes with that, right? Violence, football, beer, street punk, bands like Cock Sparrer, Infra Riot and Sham 69, and also Jamaican music. This was what clued us up on British subcultures. As time went by, we left the skinhead culture behind and entered into the casual subculture. I got a copy of Awaydays [a novel about football casuals] by Kevin Sampson, and it influenced me and my friends so much that we started wearing Adidas trainers, jackets made by brands like Sergio Tacchini, and Adidas and Fred Perry polo shirts – although this proved to be somewhat difficult because it's not so easy to get hold of these types of brands here. We then read a copy of the book Perry Boys [by Ian Hough, about the Perry-boy subculture], loved it and immediately identified with Perry boys.

Do your friends share your passion for British culture?
Yes, we started a group called the Perry Boys Firm in 2015 that's made up of friends who like British football, music and style. We tried to make it a football firm, but it was complicated because not all of our members follow the same club. Besides, the football culture here is more heavily influenced by South American "barras bravas" [organised supporters' clubs that frequently engage in violence at matches]. We also seek to spread the Perry boy subculture in our country, and have created a Facebook page to share images, notes and music related to it and discuss how to make the scene here grow.

Is there anything you don't like about British culture?
The only aspect I don't like is the nationalistic, far-right contingent within Britain. Everything else is magnificent.

Azmer

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Azmer (left) and a friend. Photo courtesy of Azmer.

Why do you like British culture so much?
Azmer: Because of British people's style and the way they speak.

Is the skinhead movement the only British subculture you like, or are there others?
I also follow the mods and punk subcultures, and the latest subculture that I've been studying is Northern soul.

What does Britishness mean to you?
For me, it's much more than just speaking with a different accent associated with another country. However, there are cultural factors associated with British skinheads that are contrary to the Malaysian way of life, such as drinking alcohol. Most of us are Muslims and don't drink. We've borrowed skinhead culture from the British and adjusted it to our ways, but the original British subculture has still taught us a great deal about life both at home and on the streets.

Is there anything you don't like about British culture?
There are no elements of it that I don't like, apart from the National Front.

YOSHITAKA

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Photo courtesy of Yoshitaka (you can listen to his band here)

Why are you such a fan of British culture?
Yoshitaka: Because it's cool and there are many different elements of it that I admire.

What does Britishness mean to you?
Britain is the country that football originated in, and there are also many different interesting subcultures there, for example mods, oi, skinheads, punks and casuals.

Is there anything you don’t like about our culture?
Nothing in particular.

EGI

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Egi and his firm, the Bobotoh Casuals

What do you like about British culture?
Egi: The music and the football.

What does Britishness mean to you?
Britain is the country of rock stars. England has changed both the world and my life.

What caused you to identify so strongly with a style associated with British hooligans, as opposed to their counterparts in other countries – for example, Italian ultras or Latin American barras bravas?
For me, British hooligans are cooler, and so are their fights and riots in the stadia. I also like British skinhead and punk music because I like going to underground music events here in Bandung.

Why did you choose to be a casual? It’s not a fashion that most people would associate with Indonesia.
The fashion is very unique. It’s sports-related and I’m a Liverpool fan, so I like it because of that, and also because I’m an Oasis fan. After watching Green Street in 2011, I started wearing casual clothing to the local stadium to watch the football. It’s quite difficult to get hold of these clothes in Indonesia. You have to search online for them in Facebook groups and look for second-hand products.

Is there anything you don’t like about British culture?
No, I like every aspect of it.

@nickchesterv

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