In peace time, it is unusual for foreign visitors to this country to notice the existence of the English people. Even the accent referred to by Americans as "the English accent" is not in fact common to more than a quarter of the population. In cartoons in continental papers England is personified by an aristocrat with a monocle, a sinister capitalist in a top-hat, or a spinster in a Burberry. Hostile or friendly, nearly all the generalisations that are made about England base themselves on the property-owning class and ignore the other forty-five million.
But the chances of war brought to England, either as soldiers or as refugees, hundreds of thousands of foreigners who would not normally have come here, and forced them into intimate contact with ordinary people. Czechs, Poles, Germans and Frenchmen to whom "England" meant Piccadilly and the Derby found themselves quartered in sleepy East Anglian villages, in northern mining towns, or in the vast working-class areas of London whose names the world had newer heard until they were blitzed. Those of them who had the gift of observation will have seen for themselves that the real England is not the England of the guide books. Blackpool is more typical than Asoot, the top-hat is a moth-eaten rarity, the language of the BBC is barely intelligible to the masses. Even the prevailing physical type does not agree with the caricatures, for the tall, lanky physique which is traditionally English is almost confined to the upper classes: the working classes, as a rule, are rather small, with short limbs and brisk movements, and with a tendency among the women to grow dumpy in early middle life.
It is worth trying for a moment to put oneself in the position of a foreign observer, new to England, but unprejudiced, and able because of his work. to keep in touch with ordinary, useful, unspectacular people. Some of his generalisations would be wrong, because he