Tag Archives: tube

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

BORIS-JOHNSON_2675593b

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.

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Commute Like A Champion

spicing-up-the-commute

Good morning, dear reader.  How are you?

If you are a London-based commuter my heart goes out to you on this, the first full day of the tube strikes.  What a nightmare.  During the last strike it took me three hours on loads of horrible buses to do a forty minute journey.  In hindsight, I wish I’d just hired a Segway and had a bit of fun getting to work.

Given that public transport is not huge amounts of fun at the best of times, I have decided to compile a list of ways to improve our lot.  After all, if we are obliged to spend a couple of hours a day on trains, buses and enchanted broomsticks, we may as well have some fun with it.  You’re a very busy person and your time is precious, so don’t waste those hours being bored or annoyed.  Use the time to your advantage.

  • That is Fascinating

Music is great, but if you’re listening to a podcast by these guys, for example, you will be learning about all kinds of fascinating things just by sitting on a train.  Granted, when I listened to their podcasts on the way to work I tended to have a perpetual “surprised and intrigued” face that looked a bit odd to other people, but it’s hard to beat the feeling of having really learned something before 9am.

  • Story Time

This one might just appeal to me and my friends because we’re all silly drama types who like making stuff up, but it’s basically a fun extension of people watching: make up stories in your head (ONLY in your head) about your fellow passengers.  This one is particularly fun when there is an old lady on board, because I like to think that it’s the queen in disguise monitoring her loyal subjects.  This is especially fun when you get to “Green Park – alight here for Buckingham Palace” and the old lady gets off the train.  What more proof do you need?

  • If You Had To

Again, this is almost definitely something that my friends and I are peculiarly drawn to, but it does pass the time.  You have to select three people from the individuals in your carriage/on your bus whom you would spend the rest of your life with: marriage, kids, mortgage, everything.  (Again, this is just in your head or, if playing with friends, in VERY quiet discussions.)  The joy of this is that at each stop your selection pool changes, and the joy of playing this with male friends is that they take it incredibly seriously.

  • Magic Tricks

If you commute for long enough you learn all sorts of transferable skills.  You can essentially teach yourself Houdini-esque body contortions by boarding a train bound for Marylebone from Aylesbury before 8am, and ladies tend to get very good at applying make-up in extreme turbulence.  Think of your commute as an opportunity to hone these magic tricks of yours, and be proud of yourself for mastering them.  I personally am at Level 6: Liquid Eye Liner on the DLR.

  • Make Someone Else’s Day

This is as fun for you as it is for the other person: smile at someone (BRIEFLY – this is England, for heaven’s sake), give up your seat, help an old lady with her granny shopper or a mum with her pushchair.  It  takes two seconds and you’re making someone else happy.  Plus, you know, you can legitimately feel pretty smug for at least half an hour.

  • This is My Stop

I have actually done this one on a lift before, but one day on a tube train (two seconds before my stop, obviously), I really want to open my handbag, peer into it and say “have you got enough air in there?”  I will then close my handbag, look at the other passengers suspiciously and draw my handbag closer to myself in a fit of protective fear before sweeping off the train with a haughty sniff.

Have an absolute cracker of a Tuesday.