The thing about London is that Londoners aren’t born, they are made. Of course if you are also born in London you will develop the characteristics of a Londoner before the literal age of 5 (I’m sure toddlers get annoyed at slow Italian tourists blocking the path by stopping in a line to figure out where they have to go, too). It’s not hard, you run everywhere whether you actually have somewhere to go and a specific time to be there (and you run twice faster when you do, as I clocked Warren Street to my supervisor’s office in 7 minutes once, and that’s what Google gives you as time by car). You are perennially annoyed at everyone and mostly help lost people as it’s quicker for everyone if they just move on. You memorise the tube map so that you won’t disrupt other people, and know which topics it is socially acceptable to complain about and what topics it isn’t. You are also a.busy.person. no matter whether your job is actually relevant. It’s just how we do things here in London so that bloggers can then write about how we need to disrupt this culture, and money is spent on events about how we need to disrupt this culture that usually achieve nothing.
If this sounds like a life worth living and you want to move to London, here are 5 of the many lessons I have learnt in the past 5 years which I think will make your (and our) life easier.
- Never take the Circle Line, ever.
This event has once caused most of the Young-Tories-that-count to gang up against one of their own for having made this obvious mistake. A lot of tube lines, especially in Zone 1, have shorter distances by foot than by tube (as you are also underground and have to factor in getting in and out of the tube, too) but the Circle line has the uncontested first place on the list of slowest and most useless service ever.
- It helps if you know which side of the platform your exit will be, as it can take forever to exist a big station if you are on the wrong side because, you know, humans.
I have failed to lobby for tourist-free zone on the platform. Or on the street. Or anywhere in London. I think people should be shown a video of how to behave when they are about to land in a London airport. “And you NEVER stop in a way that blocks passage to people who have things to do and pay high council tax for the use of the pavements”.
- Forget about high standards of living if you are middle to lower class.
‘Tis an expensive place (but don’t complain about it, that’s what Northerners do and everyone hates it), so anywhere that won’t cost you 80% of your salary in rent is probably the size of Harry Potter’s bedroom at the Dursleys. If you move out of zone 1-2 because big rooms are great (I have one so big I can do ballet barre on my own floor even being 5’6” tall with longish legs) prepare to fork out half of your salary to TfL or a train company, and good luck if that happens to be the work of the devil that is Southern Railways (although Croydonia is awesome and you should consider moving here anyway). Your social life will have a rising amount of Netflix (and chill, if that’s your inclination…).
I have also swapped most of my food shopping to Abel & Cole as the boxes really save you money on the greens (they should give me a personalised discount code for first timers as I bang on about them all the time, sorry about that). And Waitrose Essentials is as cheap as everywhere else bar M&S (M&S? Cheap? Pfft. That’s 8 quid for my bloody tights. 8 quid! – read that in a Yorkshire accent), plus their employees own shares in the business so they remain my favourite supermarket.
- You’ll start to appreciate the benefits of a small but high quality group of friends.
Going out in one to one settings or throwing small dinner parties as you can’t really fit 40 seated people in your living room (if you have one in the first place) will be a better option than having to pay a round for your 20 colleagues on a Friday night after work.
They are glamorous, they are fun and you don’t end up with massive bills like a Sam Thompson of Made in Chelsea fame. And speaking of Made in Chelsea, how many times have they really been out together as the full group (and I mean not bumping into each other at the club because everyone goes to the same places)? Small is great.
- The quickest way to change at Green Park is from the way out.
I’ve got no time for half an hour trying to get past slow people in a never-ending tunnel, thanks. It’s obviously best if as few people as possible know about this so the moment I become a big famous blogger I’ll be screwed for saying it, but until then it feels like I am rewarding my loyal readers with some seriously golden knowledge.
London is an amazing place, and despite the fact we like to depict ourselves as neurotic and cold we are actually a friendly and welcoming bunch of people. Just don’t try to say hi on the tube in the morning because we are also a sleep-deprived one.
Join a Meetup if you are scared of trying to make friends at your local watering hole, and have as much fun as a tenner can afford you (even coffees cost a fortune, unless you are someone so caffeine-addicted that you would drink coffee from a Wetherspoons).
The greatest thing about London is that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you like, even I have friends so really nobody judges you for what you wear (except fashion bloggers or those crazy people who stop you to say they like what you wear -which makes people’s day so more people should do it-), what music you listen to and usually what you drink (well, I do, but I will strive to educate you) etc. You can be who you really are and you will find someone who likes just that.