There are three topics of conversation that will see you through an evening in any country pub:
1. The weather. Coming from L.A. where the weather is the same all year except for the two weeks it rains, it took me some time to fully appreciate the depth of this topic in the British Isles. You could spend a whole evening on it.
2. The decline of the BBC. Mention “liberal bias.”
3. The dismal state of London’s public transport. Share your favorite hot/smelly/expensive anecdote from last time you were “in the city.” Your acquaintance will have one too, and everyone loves to complain.
And lately, there has been a fourth: the American presidential election. Brits are into this in a way most Americans can’t imagine, a perfect microcosm of the somewhat one-sided “special relationship” between these two countries. It reminds me of an anecdote I read this weekend in the FT about what it means to be an Oxonian (i.e., someone who attended Oxford). A professor at the University of Glasgow wrote to a professor at Oxford saying, “I hope you don’t think we don’t like you.”
The Oxonian replied, “We don’t think of you at all.”