Sunday, June 01, 2008

how not to be...

…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.


zuzula said...

you're a natural! yes - never leave home without some flatties somewhere about your person :)

so... when are you moving? x

3rm said...

told you there was a difference between chips and crisps, philistine

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

Thanks for the tips...I am on my way to England right now! But will be in Liverpool...probably even more nut cases there! ;)

Mini said...

Sweet Pea. Apparently there is this lovely "TEA" shop in Nottinghill(GR8 if u a tea drinker).Not sure what it is called.Oh n Olga! Liverpöol??? You worry me!(scouser)

kyknoord said...

Then again, if you are from out of town, you may as well take advantage of that fact, 'cos then you won't have to be concerned about applying a bunch of ridiculous, arbitrary "rules" to fit in. What's the point of being a foreigner, if you can't act foreign?

Jam said...

I can't wait to see what your thoughts on Dublin are going to glad you're having an amazing time. Speaking like a chav yet??

Nick said...

"I don't understand why some South Africans call this place The Pit."

Bear in mind this is the beginning of June - literally the best time of year to be here. June, July and August are great. September not bad. But the winter is longer and more depressing than you can imagine from looking at the summer. You know the awesome long evenings we're getting now? Reverse that. Sunset at 4pm, rises at 9am. It is cold. And it rains. All. The. Time.

The novelty of the tube wears off in about 6 months. I also used to love it. Now I call it The Degrader, and long for the privacy and cleanliness of my car in Joburg.

Not that I want to ruin your vibe - great that you're having a jol. And maybe you'd love the place for the long term. But for me, by February, the Pit is too kind a word.

Pam said...

Darling, of course you love London. You're there in summer, you're staying in a swanky hotel, and your company is paying for all your expenses. Hardly the same as most South Africans' experiences of living there.

The Blonde Blogshell said...

Dude, it sounds incredible! You lucky biatch!

Thanks for the guide :-)

Peas on Toast said...

Hey guys!

OK I'll start off with Nick and Pam:

Nick - I do understand that in winter London must be miserable, and yes even I got a bit frustrated with the tubes by end-week (they closed the Victoria line and there were delays on the Jubilee...was a pain), so for sure, I haven't spent nearly enough time in the place to get the hell in as yet. But the Pit? And Pam, sure, of course I had it cushy this last week with my hotel and whatnot - definitely. But as far as the Pit is concerned, I compare London to JHB, and frankly, London is about 1000 times more beautiful. Not even a shadow of a doubt. The buildings and little shops and streets are at least something to look at - in JHB, not so much. And I suppose Saffas are inclined to get homesick and go mental in the constant rain and cold.

So in context, I can understand. And I was lucky to have only 3 days of rain in a week.

Zu - hahaha, one day my London time will come, I have this uncanny feeling :)

3rm - yes, in ENGLAND, there is, philistine.

Olga - oooh, the bra goes to Inkland! I like! You'd better put up some pictures Olga!

Mini - Funnily enough I had some ravishing Earl Grey with me bangers and mash in Nott Hill :)

Kyk - true, true. It's just that when you smile at someone on the tube, they think you're a nutter ;)

Jam - oh man, we have SO much catching up to do missy! :)

Blogshell - I can't lie when I say I had a fantastic week in La Belle Pit :)

Nick said...

Peas=bored of joburg, finds london's little shops beautiful and charming pubs quaint.

Nick=bored of london, longs for joburg thunderstorms, warm weather, and swimming pools.


Peas on Toast said...

Nick - you have it exactly right dude. Let's swap, you're on!

po said...

Before I came to the UK, my sister told me never to look at a chav directly because they will beat you up. Now that I am here I realise you should never look at a chav because you will be blinded by the horror that is chav dress sense. Tracksuits (they call them jogging bottoms)and Man U t shirts, Yeah!