We’ve all heard of foreign places where you’re not allowed to show your ankle flesh or even places where its ‘polite’ to burp after a meal… (My father frequently uses this excuse.) However it seems London and the delightful people in the city have their ‘own’ etiquette… And no I’m not talking about cockney rhyming slang and eating pie and mash… I’m talking about everyday people that you might see on a day trip to London. I am no stranger to London and the big bad world of tubes and I can’t help but notice there are a few things that you should and shouldn’t do to save yourself from a bull and cow. (Sorry I couldn’t help myself… That means a row for those of you who don’t know.)
The tube system is a fascinating one and you will see EVERYTHING from granny’s pushing, people that really shouldn’t have been let out for the day and possibly a fight if you’re lucky (I’ve been very lucky in my time). Witnessing the behaviour of some you would think they had seen a half-price sale in Ted Baker (Okay admittedly when I found out there was a ted baker sale I may have used my elbows to ensure I got on the next tube but I needed a new handbag.) I’m all for being polite and letting other people through doors first but this is not for the tubes. Elbows at the ready, in the starting traps, its barging galore as you try and find a space on the tube. Once on the tube, don’t smile at people. Don’t look at people. Don’t speak to people. Don’t get too close to people. Just look at your feet, breath in and hope for the best. This is central London and everyone knows they don’t like people or friends or happiness or politeness.
People in a hurry
Everyone is in a rush, everyone is more important than the other and everyone is rude. Just look down Oxford Street and you’ll see a crowd of people, each needing to be somewhere and needing to be there NOW. Make sure you wear your shoulder pads and knee pads as not only will you be shoved by people, but prams, handbags, carrier bags and small children that seem to be wandering around. (Personally, I don’t think children and prams should be allowed in Central London.) Everyone has a romantic, idealistic view of Oxford Street with model like women prancing down in killer heels with their Selfridge’s bags and tiny rat-like puppies. However in reality you’re stuck behind someone blowing their cigarette smoke into hair whilst a group of 13 year old girls bump into you with their Primark bags whilst your ankles are being gnawed to death by a pram. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
You can buy something and not hear an utter of word from the cashier. Don’t even try to converse. It won’t work. This is both annoying and truly amazing and something that will only happen in London. Go into any local shop, pick up a magazine or chocolate bar and the cashier will not have to say anything to you. I’ve seen cashiers on the phone who simply can’t stop talking about the latest gossip between Mckenzie and Shanice and just put their hand out for the money… (You never known it might be very good gossip.) Then there’s the cashier that cannot speak a word of English and when you say ‘Good Morning! Just this thanks!’, they simply blink at you and again put their hand out… Oh well customer service at its best I suppose and it makes the process quicker.
If you (like me) like to wander around Harrods and Selfridges dreaming about money and choosing which ring, hat, handbag, jacket and watch you would buy yourself, your mum and your best friend, DON’T be alarmed when the security guard starts following you around. They will wander around behind you, watching your every move making you feel like a 9 year old boy in the local corner shop stealing a packet of crisps for his older brother. Don’t try and talk to them as this will only look like you’re trying to sweeten them up. Just act calm, which I know is the hardest thing to do. (It’s like trying to be calm when walking through customs at the airport even though you know you’re completely innocent, and I ALWAYS get that feeling.)