If we have to have a Britishness test surely the picnic, should be the true barometer of whether you stay, or you're sent back on the first RAF transport to Darfur.
The picnic is a fine art. In my pre-children days, I have to admit to over extravagance. Anything that involves having to mix a dressing and pour it over a salad, on location, is more of a faff than it's worth. I make this assertion on the basis that if you are making a dressing for a picnic, then you had better have the table, foldable chairs, crockery, whicker basket and napkins to back up your pretensions. Otherwise you're doomed to an oil stained rug and frustrated gastro buddies, plus the ignomy of the rest of the polo crowd trying to pretend you're not sitting there.
Nope the ingredients of the great British Picnic for four are thus.
-Two times cheese and pickle sandwiches (the cornerstone of all British culture)
-Two times egg and cucumber sandwiches (cress is not an option, you always get left with half a tray that wilts on the windowsill)
-Two times tuna mayo and cucumber sandwiches (see there was method in my egg and cucumber combo, buy half a cucumber and you have no waste)
All of the above should be cut into quarters and sheathed in two layers of clingfilm, wrapped in opposite directions. Failure to wrap two sheets of clingfilm (in opposite directions) and plumping for one, will result in lateral, structural weakness and filling all over the inside*. In the event of one layer being used, you can be assured that the egg mayo and probably the pickle, will fall and stain the oldest picnic party member's trousers and create a bad mood from the outset. You have been warned. Finally each of the three individually wrapped parcels should be placed back into the bread wrapper, from whence they came.
NB 1. Using fresh bread may seem like a good idea, but will result in your sandwich parcels rattling around in the bag. It's what sliced bread wrappers, were destined to do, don't deny them their destiny.
NB 2. For added authenticity, one of the sandwiches should be made using a crust. Dependent on your picnic guests, there will be one of two conversations.
'No, no, no, you have it. I know you like the crusts. I'm not bothered'
'No, seriously you have it'
'Honestly I don't mind, have it, go on'
'No, you have it, you made them'
'Weeeell if you don't mind'
'Oh for fuck's sake, why do I always get left with the crust'
'Well mum made the picnic, so it's only fair'
'Jeeesus don't worry, I'll just have a pork pie' (see below) - Proceed to nick more than your fair share of pork pies.
Please be aware both of the above conversations are equally British and will qualify you for citizenship.
Supplementary picnic items:
- Two boiled eggs - these will inevitably be left over, because you always think you need more eggs for the sandwiches than you actually use.
- Individual mini pork pies x6 - six is never enough really, but buying eight just seems greedy. However, we should learn that the purchase of six, leaves an imbalance of distribution and will inevitably lead to argument later on (see conversation 2 above)
- Snack eggs x1 pack - these horrendous processed monstrosities, are the most delicious food known to man (well picnic man anyway) - don't worry, that you've already got egg sandwiches and the left over boiled eggs, from having done too many for the sandwiches, what's a little constipation between friends.
- Cocktail sausages x40 (or 80, if you forgot to eat breakfast and you're standing at the chiller cabinet, salivating) - never ever look at the list of ingredients on a pack of cocktail sausages, they taste too good to be ruined by that kind of stupidity.
- Apples x4 - these are conscience salvers. Following the processed muck you've shovelled down prior to the apple, they will make you feel like a picnic is a much healthier option, than going to the beach cafe and ordering burger and chips.
- Carrot sticks - see apples above
- One 2 litre bottle of pre-mixed squash - remember for true authenticity the bottle should have previously contained something other than squash, preferably 1/2 a litre of flat carbonated water, that for some reason's been sat in the fridge for 6 or 7 months N.B. Inevitably the solution will always be either far too strong, or far too weak.
Please ensure that all of the above are placed in a bag that was designed, to only fit about 80% of the stuff you are trying to stuff in. This will ensure the sandwiches are well squashed on arrival. N.B. If the picnic appears to fit neatly in to the bag you are taking, you have forgotten the plastic plates, plastic cups, cutlery and napkins**. There is no getting away from the 80% rule I'm afraid.
* If you're thinking the lateral, structual weakness can be avoided by cutting the sandwiches in half, think again. Quarters is the only way to go on a picnic I'm afraid. Use a second piece of clingfilm you lazy cheapskate.
**Please note plates, plastic cups, cutlery and napkins are compulsary if you are picnicing with women. The 80% rule is therefore effectively their fault. If it was a bloke's picnic, the sandwiches wouldn't get squashed. Think about it next time women.