You know you’re a Londoner when …

You read Blogthings’ “You Know You’re From London when …” and realise it wasn’t written by a Londoner. Actually, I suspect UZ’s You Know You’re From New York when … was not written by a New Yorker either. Let’s face it, neither of them mention Londoners and New Yorkers.

OK, let’s take this point by point, insha Allah.

You say “the city” and expect everyone to know which one

Capital C! In London “the City” means the City of London; London means the whole of the London area. But “going to London” means going to the central area (which is mostly west of the City), while London Bridge goes into the City from Southwark.

London is full of places which mean different things for different purposes. Lambeth and Southwark are both areas on the immediate south bank of the Thames, but the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark stretch all the way to Crystal Palace, about 8 miles from the centre of town. Camden borough is centred on Camden Town, but also includes a large chunk of central London.

You have never been to The Tower or Madame Tussauds but love Brighton.

Well, Brighton is where a lot of Londoners go to get away from the heat and bustle and lie by the seaside or enjoy the views (they are stunning). But I imagine many, if not most, Londoners do visit the Tower and Madame Tussauds. (Especially since Tussauds now owns loads of other attractions.)

You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Shepherds Bush to Elephant & Castle at 3:30 on the Friday before a long weekend, but can’t find Dorset on a map.

A little bit of an exaggeration … but in London there’s lots of ways of getting from different places to different places. Although there is only one way to go west from the Elephant at 3:30pm on a Friday (if you want to avoid the £5 congestion charge), which is to go down the Ring Road, Kennington Lane.

Hookers and the homeless are invisible.

There are actually far fewer homeless now than there were in Thatcher’s day when London was notorious for its “cardboard city”. You’ll mostly find them sitting quietly by the side of the road or pavement muttering “spare any change, mate?”. As for hookers, they are certainly visible if you use a West End phone box, but they are less visible if you walk through their reputed den north of Picadilly. The sex shops, however, are anything but invisible.

You step over people who collapse on the tube.

Not true.

You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.

Yeah … a lot of people are like this. I’ve even seen books on how to swear and to cuss someone’s mamá in Spanish. I think they are available outside London too.

You’ve considered stabbing someone.

No comment …

Your door has more than three locks.

As in most major cities …

Your favourite movie has Hugh Grant in it.

Well, Hugh Grant’s movies are so English, aren’t they? A lot of middle-class English people like those modern period pieces with Kenneth Branagh and Hugh Grant.

You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.

Yeah, it’s best to avoid eye contact with some people.

You call an 8’ x 10’ plot of patchy grass a garden.

Yep. Like New Yorkers call that a yard, when as we all know, a yard is three feet.

You know where Karl Marx is buried.

Highgate Cemetery. But the place where he wrote Das Kapital is more famous - the British Museum Reading Room.

You consider Essex the “countryside”

It is!

You think Hyde Park is “nature.”

It’s the nearest to it for quite a few miles, unless you count London Zoo if it’s still open.

You’re paying £1,200 a month for a studio the size of a walk-in wardrobe and you think it’s a “bargain.”

Urgh yeah, London house prices … but if you can afford that much per month for a small flat, you are probably not a Londoner. Most likely a foreign investor …

Shopping in suburban supermarkets and shopping malls gives you a severe attack of agoraphobia.

Most Londoners shop in suburban supermarkets and malls - those in the suburbs have the same chain stores as in the town.

You’ve been to Tooting twice and got hopelessly lost both times.

You cannot get lost in Tooting. Just about everything lies on two main streets!

You pay more each month to park your car than most people in the UK pay in rent.

Another slight exaggeration, I think. Car parking charges are extortionate, but many parts of London still have free parking … just not the bits which are convenient for getting to central London.

You haven’t seen more than twelve stars in the night sky since you went camping as a kid.

Hmmm … funny, wonder where I read this before …

You own hiking boots and a 4WD vehicle, neither of which have ever touched dirt.

Well, the 4WD bit is true of a lot of people (known as Chelsea Tractors). My hiking boots have been used for their intended purpose.

You haven’t heard the sound of true absolute silence since 1977, and when you did, it terrified you.

I think this is true of darkness rather than silence. Unless you are in a windowless basement, you will not be entirely deprived of light in London (if you can see, that is). I noticed this when I stayed in places like the Lake District and the west of Ireland. There, when you turn out the lights, it really is dark.

(A few omitted)

The UK west of Heathrow is still theoretical to you.

Have you seen the UK immediately west of Heathrow? Slough is basically a London suburb, and Reading is pretty close to that as well.

You don’t hear sirens anymore.

Everyone hears sirens, and people really do move over for the police, fire and ambulance people. (Not like in Egypt.)

You live in a building with a larger population than most towns.

I guess that most households in Greater London have a house with a garden. I’ve never lived in a block of flats, and most of those, by the way, are not high-rise.

Your cleaner is Russian, your grocer is Korean, your deli man is Israeli, your landlord is Italian, your laundry guy is Chinese, your favourite bartender is Irish, your favourite diner owner is Greek, the watch-seller on your corner is Senegalese, your last cabbie was Pakistani, your newsagent is Indian and your favourite falafel guy is Egyptian.

This was copied word-for-word from the NY article. You’re more likely to be a Londoner if your cleaner is Ghanaian, your grocer and deli man is one of four large supermarket companies, your “landlord” is a bank, your laundry person is yourself or your mum, your favourite bartender could be from anywhere (I don’t go to them so I wouldn’t know) and the same goes for the diner owner, there are no watch-sellers on your corner except for the occasional guy who claims to be selling you £900 watches for £50, your last cabbie was anyone with a four-door car who was desperate for the money, your newsagent is Indian (one thing right!) and you have never heard of felafel.

You wouldn’t want to live anywhere else until you get married.

Uh … well, or at least until you wanted to get a house and find you’ve been priced out of the market.

You say ‘mate’ constantly


Anyone not from London is a ‘wanker’


Anyone from outside London and north of the Watford Gap is a ‘Northern Wanker’

Uh, for some people I suppose.

You have no idea where the North is.

Of course we know where the North is. It’s where Man United are. (There are a lot of Man U fans in London. I don’t know how many Arsenal and Charlton Athletic fans there are in Manchester.)

You see All Saints in the Met Bar (again) and find it hard to get excited about it.

All Saints? You mean the pop group? I didn’t even know they were British. (I know Eternal come from Croydon and used to go to Ashburton High. Whether you could still find them in the pubs of Addiscombe I very much doubt.)

The countryside makes you nervous

Far from it - most Londoners like going out into the country - they think of it as where the air is clean (except for the “fertiliser”) and where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. (Actually, many townies underestimate some of the dangers of the countryside. People know that bulls charge, but are less aware that cows will attack people as well, particularly if they have calves, and more so if you have a dog. A woman walking a dog was killed in this way a few weeks ago.)

Somebody speaks to you on the tube and you freak out thinking they are a stalker.

People do, sometimes, talk to each other on the tube.

You talk in postcodes. “God, it was really warm round SW1 the other day”

No. W1 (West One) possibly, and a few other places. But not SW1.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from London.

More likely, “we show someone from London and have a good laugh at this guy who obviously has never been to London”.

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