I just heard someone say this about Peter Lawford, on a radio trailer for a programme about him:
'He was tall, ridiculously good-looking, and British, without being goofy about it.'
The speaker was an American. I love the idea of managing to be British without being goofy about it. What can it mean? What form would the goofiness take? Endless quoting of PG Wodehouse? Ostentatious drinking of tea? Constant renderings of Land of Hope and Glory? An obsessive drive to understatement? The breeding of bulldogs?
I'm trying to think of the most British thing ever. What runs into my mind, carrying a Union flag, is the habit of Ordinary Decent Britons to say 'Oh, you know, not too bad,' when asked how they are. This usually means: the dog died, I lost all my money in a Ponzi scheme, my other half has just run off with my best friend, and the roof is leaking. But you know, not too bad.