…a minging tourist in London. From what I gather:
1)Get savvy with the tube lines enough so that you never have to carry a map.
Even better still, don’t even glance at the map plastered on the side of the tube. Avoid all eye contact with the map altogether. Adopt a devil may care, I-can-do-this-with-my eyes closed attitude to the Underground.
2)...And on eye contact
Never make any. There are a lot of nutters in this town. People do and wear unusual things. You really get all types, so you want to pretend you've seen it all before and nothing will surprise you. Stare right through people, never ever make eye contact. Especially on any public transport. Define your personal bubble from the word go. People can stand on top of each other on the tube to the point wear you can count the threads in their jacket, but there’s still a bubble.
3) Be stoic. Brits are. They rarely show flamboyant emotion. I kind of like it, because when they do smile at you (and if he’s a hottie), you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
4)Being a non-tourist means blending in.
Usually it’s dull colours like greys and blacks. This season it’s skinny jeans, boots, ballet pumps and jersey dresses. Everyone is super funky and sharp, but many Londoners kind of look the same at the end of the day. Being a non-tourist means you need to conform to these fashion basics.
5) Take a spare set of ‘trainers’ in your bag to work.
People just wear heels; Londoners wear heels, but take trainers for the commute home. Zuzula told me this, straight from a Londoner’s mouth. Brits can be trendy and chic; but they’re also Brits. So they’re practical and well-walked.
6) For God’s sake, stand on the right.
Now in all fairness, they drive on the same side of the road we do – and that means people should overtake on the right. At least in traffic. So the right defies all logic as far as I’m concerned. But just do it, on all escalators. Brits get pissed and call you a fucken tosser tourist otherwise.
7) Nobody smokes in pubs anymore.
Sure, they’ll stand out in the pissing rain, and it’ll be bucketing down, but laws are laws here. I still look around in disbelief - because for me, a bar means a fantastic shmokiepoo with my wine thank you very much. But you even have to step away from entrances and go around corners in some places. They make smoking here fucking difficult, you’re a pariah basically. It’s good.
Last night I met all my South African friends at The Langley in Leicester Square for some drinks. Pumping little place, but no smoking.
8) iPods. Excellent Londoner tool for minding your own business and getting on with it in an essentially British fashion.
However, hide the actual iPod if, like me, you still own an embarrassingly archaic, very unsavvy old iPod Mini with the grey screen. Heaven forbid. Shuffle the songs in your pocket.
9) Don’t fuck around, buy an Oyster card.
Londoners don’t buy separate tube and bus tickets everyday. Just buying a single ticket makes you achingly foreign. Buy the card and swipe it without fumbling about. Again, your mates will marvel at your ability to fit in.
10) Street Maps.
Out of the question. Go to Google Maps before you leave the office and photographically remember where you’re going. Make the journey plan in your head. Know where you’re going before embarking .
11) It’s a mobile not a cell phone.
And I’ll text you, not sms you. It’s a bag of crisps, not chips. I’ll ring you, not phone you. (Yes 3RM, in ENGLAND people are inclined to say it), and a news agent is an 'offie', or 'off license.'
12) Again, there are some proper nutters here. Like the dude who lives outside my hotel who is inclined to stand on the corner manically pawing at his face and neighing like a horse.
Or the chavs who have the ability to talk in high pitched tones swearing at random people they feel the need to swear at.
Or this one dude I heard the neighbourhood called 50p – who’d rap loudly to himself in the back of the bus each day.
Oh and the dude who pushed a woman under a tube this week. That seems to happen fairly infrequently. Just pushed her onto the live rail and carried on walking.
The trick is indifference. Like you’ve seen it all before or couldn’t give a toss either way. No eye contact and complete nonchalance. Never act surprised and you’ll fit in like a glove.
I don't understand why some South Africans call this place The Pit. Honestly. I think London is an amazing city. Yesterday we ate in China Town - loved that.
And during the day I shopped until my credit card melted (eeeeeek - Oxford Street is baaaad news!) and I had lunch on the river banks in Richmond, right next to Mick Jagger's house.
Today I peruse the Portobello Market in Notting Hill and then head off to DUBLIN.