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

No.

Anyone not from London is a ‘wanker’

No.

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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  • The “You know you’re from new orleans” from blogthings is skewed towards cajun culture and not totally new orleans culture (there is a difference). And don’t get me started on the mississippi one.

    salam alaikoum

  • Salaam ‘Alaikum

    “The city” thing is very true of New Yorkers. Doesn’t matter if they didn’t capitalize it — I noticed a lot of the “you know you’re from” lists had errors in them (spelling, etc). But for us, “the city” is only Manhattan, it’s not the other 4 boros — even though they are all part of New York City. The Empire State Building / Statue of Liberty thing was also very true — I’ve never met anyone from the city or even the suburbs who’s been to them (or who went to the observation decks of the WTC). I’ve only met one NYer who did the other major attraction (Circle Line) - my husband who took a friend visiting from out of town.

    And a yard is the patch of grass behind my house. A garden is the area where the last tenant decided to grow some flowers or herbs or something.

  • Come on, it wasn’t that bad an attempt.

    I know when I used to be a Londoner, London was England. Anything outside of Watford was Scotland. The guy has also accurately identified a few other London nuances too.

    In any case, London sucks. Welcome to the North.

    Oh and I just HAVE to write the next, “You know you’re a Pak when you…”

    ;-)

  • Abu Eesa: that’s really not my experience of living in London. Anyway, if you come from the outer parts of London, you will most likely consider your home to be part of a county rather than London. I don’t think he identified any “London nuances”, only stereotypes which he grafted onto a piece containing a load of New York stereotypes.

  • Steve

    People who live in London…and I have the unfortunate punishment of having to vist the city (westminster) a few days a week and actually pay 150 quid a night fot the “pleasure” of doing so…..(I live in Birmingham by the way)….think anywhere outside the M25 is “the sticks”. Which it is not. We have tower blocks, office blocks and traffic jams everywher else too.

    They think we dont have “urban problems” like gangs etc. in the other main citiies of the UK….obviosly Londoners have never been to Aston, Handsworth or Lozelles in Birmingham or Heath Town in Wolverhampton…..these are all very scary places.

    Londoners think that they are the only place to suffer traffic congestion….try the M6 between Junction 6 and Junction 10…..very very unpleasant.

    They think people North of Watford are wimps….hmmmm, far from it….I personally think people South of and including Watford live very sheltered lives. Londoners should try visiting an old Midlands or Northern England coal mining village and then proceed to tell everyone in the local village pub that they are “wimps”…or even better “northern wankers”…..the outcome would be highly amusing to watch……Some of these villagers eat city folk for breakfast (after thet are freshly ripped apart by bare hands the night before).

  • Justin

    Das Kapital was written in the Reading Room of the British Library not the British Museum. Also, most people in London have indeed heard of felafel, though the server is most likely Lebanese rather than Egyptian. Oh and for Steve - the Watford Gap is nowhere near Watford as you implied. Cheers.

  • Justin: I called it the British Museum reading room because it is actually no longer the BL reading room. The BL now has its reading room at Euston Road. It’s in the British Museum, and was until this March called the Paul Hamlyn Library, which has moved temporarily to make room for exhibitions (see http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/greatcourt/read.html">http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/greatcourt/read.html“>here).

  • Iain

    dude, seems to me that even you only disagree with six or seven of the things up there… and overexaduration isn’t a crime. It seems pretty funny, and fairly accurate to me! I think you waisted a good chunk of your life trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.

  • Lol

    just take it as a joke. i do, i think it’s great!! really funny, perhaps not 100% accurate, but so what?