We flatter ourselves when we boast of mastery of the ironic style. Unlike literal-minded Germans and Americans, we are not ashamed to live behind masks and speak in riddles. On the contrary, we delight in it and damn foreigners for their insistence on saying what they mean. They lack our sophistication. The delightfully quirky British sense of humour leaves them cold.
If we were harder on ourselves, we would notice that on the reverse side of the ironic coin are the smuttiness and evasiveness that always accompany self-censorship. We would wonder how we ended up in a country where fear of causing offence or crossing a powerful or litigious interest had become so ingrained the British could no longer speak plainly or read freely.