I came across an interesting article in the i newspaper today which reported a research group has discovered that 95% of Brits will open their front door to someone they don't know. Note to unassuming British folk - this is not safe, especially now that any burglars who read the i know that there is only a 5% chance they will have to use force to break into your house - just a simple knock on the door and a bash over your head will give them access to all your jewels and computers.
That being said, there is very much still a culture in which "just popping 'round" is acceptable and even welcomed (not strangers particularly, but definetely with friends). This surprised greatly me when I first moved here - I remember looking to my husband expecting to see my own confusion mirrored on his face when someone would come over unannounced AND uninvited, but he would just greet them as he'd been expecting them and invite them in. I would wait for them to explain the reason (and it better be good) for unexpectedly knocking on my door making themselves a part of our day or evening, but it never happened. My husband never asked "so what are you doing here?" or "what do you want?" nor was the cliche "I was just in the neighborhood" excuse given. No one asked, no one explained, they just carried on as if the visit was planned.
I'm not saying I'm offended or upset when people "pop 'round", but what if we had been doing something - Playing Monopoly? Eating dinner? Engaging in naked activities? Then what? Would you be expected to open the door anyway and turn your visitors away? Its all very strange to me and something I will never feel comfortable with no matter how long I live here.
Not surprisingly, the article goes on to say that two-thirds of people in London "feel annoyed" when they hear an unexpected knock at the door compared to only 15% in the North-East. Count me in the London batch; if you want to come visit, call me first and ask me if its ok - its just good manners!
(speaking of good manners, meet Miss Manners and take a look at her books. She even has one called Star-Spangled Manners: In Which Miss Manners Defends American Etiquette (For a Change). This would make a perfect Christmas gift for LadyLiberty in case anyone was wondering what you should by me.. er.. her)