Tag Archives: tourists

8 Ways You Know That You’re Not A “Real” Londoner

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Hello there, you brilliant creature.  Are you enjoying your Thursday so far?

When Ash and I were living in Southgate, we got a lot of stick from our friends about not “really” living in London, even though Zone 4 is still a zone.  Now that I am snug, smug and central in Zone 2, I reckon I should have grasped some of the finer points of the London lifestyle…but I definitely haven’t.  I’ve lived in and around London for most of my life, but there are some Londoner trademarks that I just don’t have.  I’m sure some of them will creep up on me over time, but for a lot of capital-dwellers there are some expected characteristics that we may never obtain.  Here is how you can tell if you’re not a “real” Londoner (yet):

You wait for the green man before crossing a busy road
I have friends who are, in most situations, sensible and sane human beings.  Give them a hectic junction in central London, however, and they will sail across the road without even glancing at the traffic.  I just can’t do that.  I might take thirty seconds longer to reach my destination, but I will definitely get there alive.

You still (secretly) like the tourist attractions
I know they’re full of tourists who don’t know where they’re going, and I know they’re mostly overpriced and cheesy, but I still love London’s tourist traps.  The London Eye is pretty darn cool, and Piccadilly is just fun.  Give me a day of museum hopping in South Kensington over an obscure art gallery any day of the week.

The buses baffle you
I am very glad that my London friends can speak so knowledgeably and confidently about the buses in their local areas, but it takes some time to get that savvy.  I’m still working the tube map out, for heaven’s sake.

You don’t get annoyed appropriately
Yesterday morning I woke up to find two foxes and a squirrel asleep at the end of my garden.  Instead of getting irate about urban vermin and fearing for my bins, I immediately got excited at the possibility of The Animals of Farthing Wood becoming a reality.  That’s not really a Londoner way of thinking, is it?

You don’t understand how Boris bikes work
Seriously, no idea.

You don’t go to the right pubs – sorry, bars
In my heart of hearts I still feel like a student, which means that I automatically gravitate towards the nearest Wetherspoons or Nicholsons pub, even though this fabulous city is chock full of interesting and weirdly themed bars.  Even when I do find an independent pub I quite like, I can never remember what it’s called.  Whenever my friends and I are trying to think of somewhere to go, no one listens to me because I end up suggesting “that place we went to when it was cold”, “the pub that looks like the hanging gardens of Babylon” or “the bar that had lots of beers”.  Not helpful.

You can’t always give tourists directions
I try.  I really do.  I want to be helpful, and I’m flattered that I look enough like a Londoner to be asked for directions, but I very rarely know where I’m going.  I’d been working in the area for two months before I found out that you can walk from Leicester Square to Covent Garden.

You forget that it’s not ok to skip in public
Looking happy is strongly discouraged, and demonstrating joy is a definite no no.  (By the way, I do realise that the skipping thing might just be me, but what’s life for if not a bit of occasional silliness?)

Have a brilliant day.

Stuff That Should Be a Thing

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Good morning dear reader!  How was your weekend?  Well, don’t be sad because it’s over, be glad because it happened. (Nothing like a trite piece of advice to kick off your Monday, is there?)

As you can probably tell from this blog’s ridiculous title, today I am in one of my “if I ruled the world” moods, and I have come up with a few small ways to improve our day-to-day lives.  Here is a list of stuff that should be a thing in modern society:

  • Flowers should not wilt.  (I realise that this is a biological issue rather than a social one, by the way, but I still think it sucks.)  It’s just so depressing to be given a beautiful bouquet of colour and fragrance that you know will gradually fade into brown, dead stalks.  What else can so clearly demonstrate society’s bleak view of the transient nature of romantic relationships?  “Here is something pretty to show how much I like you…for now.”  Far too ominous an undertone for my liking, frankly.  Stick to jewellery.
  • Upon entry to the UK, tourists should be given a brief but firm tutorial on how to use public transport in this country, because those “stand on the right” signs are clearly not having any effect.  I’ll do it myself if that’s what it takes.  Bring me a whiteboard and some fancy pens; I’ll be all over it.  There’ll be proper diagrams and everything, you just watch.
  • The tax system ought to work like karma does., i.e. higher taxes for bigger asshats.  I have no idea how practical or easy to monitor that would be, but I like the sound of it.  Domestic abusers, murderers and Nigel Farage should definitely be paying more tax than I do.  (Not you, obviously.  You’re lovely.)
  • The elderly should be allocated sections of cities (not so that we can get rid of them or anything – hear me out).  We have Chinatowns, Sohos and Little Italys, which is great, but why are we limiting ourselves to geographical divisions?  Elderly people sometimes feel out of touch with the modern world, (as do I, to be perfectly honest) and they should have their own place where stuff is exactly how they remember it from their youths: the same clothing shops, the same food places and the same movies showing in cinemas.  Let them have somewhere to go where they can be nostalgic (and get away from the tourists who stand on the left).
  • Speaking of nostalgia, I really, really wish that it was still the convention for people to wear hats all of the time.  I don’t even suit hats, but I think it would be awesome to bring that back.
  • No more ice-cream van music.  Those eerie tunes are the least child-friendly thing I’ve ever heard.

I hope you have the kind of Monday that makes you feel like this.

Top Tips for the Thames

Good morning!  How’s your Thursday going so far?

I live in London, and although I am fairly far north I tend to gravitate towards the banks and bridges of the Thames whenever I can.  I love the river in this city, and it has a lot to offer that all Londoners know about: the BFI, the National Theatre and so on.  However, today I would like to recommend some less established entertainment and activities that the Thames offers.  Some of them are ridiculous, but I think they’re all definitely worth doing.  If you’re a proper grown up you might not agree with me, but then I’d rather be silly than sensible.  Being silly is how you have fun.  Speaking of which:

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1) Play pooh sticks on a bridge

My friend Paul and I did this on New Year’s Eve (daytime) a couple of years ago, and we loved it.  It was a snap decision made in a coffee shop somewhere off Wardour Street.  Finding sticks between Soho and Embankment was a bit of a challenge, so if you do this I’d recommend raiding a park beforehand.  The added challenge with Embankment Bridge is that people are crossing it all the time, so you have a game-within-a-game situation whereby you’re playing Dodge the Tourist as you dash across the bridge.  If you don’t know what pooh sticks is (and you’d be surprised how many people don’t), then you need help.  Here is help.

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2) Go on the merry go round next to the Southbank Centre

I know you’re a grown up.  I know you feel silly.  But it’s a wonderful feeling to be soaring through the air on a noble steed, laughing your head off with your friends and watching the river swing around.  I’m sure we looked like eejits, but it felt brilliant.  And what is the point in looking normal/sensible/good when you could be having a good time?

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3) Re-enact the end of Sliding Doors where Gwyneth Paltrow is yelling at John Hannah and then they make up

This one is particularly good for Londoners, because it rains often enough to give you plenty of opportunities.  For a bit of variation, you could try Miranda and Steve’s reunion in the Sex and the City Movie or Anastasia; pick a film with a bridge in it and go for your life.  Maybe stay away from The Bridge on the River Kwai, though.

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4) Stop and have a boogie to one of the buskers

One of my favourite things about the summer months in London is the buskers who play steel drums along the bridges.  Next time I see one, I’m going to stop and have a little dance.  No big deal, just a few minutes of boogie.  I’m a terrible dancer, but whatever.  I hope that whoever accompanies me on this occasion will be prepared to cut a rug (knowing my friends, they probably will be.  Hell, they’ll probably bring tap shoes).

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5) Just look at it

The Thames is amazing.  Especially on days like yesterday, when that photo was taken.  When I’m upset or confused or just feeling a bit weird, I love going and looking at the river.  Sometimes I go with someone and talk, but I’ve also been known to have a wander and ponder by myself.  Londoners sometimes look at the river as a barrier: something to traverse, something that could flood, something that makes the air colder.  But it’s actually a very beautiful thing that unites loads of parts of the city, and personally I think it’s London’s best feature.

Have a brilliant day – I hope your lunch break is the perfect length of time.