It took me a long time to realise this, but there are a great number of tell-tale signs you’ve been living in London too long.
I spent four lovely years in London yet this did not cross my mind until I recently moved to Manchester. For nearly half a decade I thought scowling at strangers was a prized survival technique and getting trampled on the tube during rush hour a rite of passage.
If you don’t currently live in the British capital, please consider the following a mildly entertaining rant. If you’re a Londoner, work on that stiff upper lip and try to make sure these signs you’ve been living in London too long don’t make you cry.
1. You think slow walkers are the worst people ever. Right after tourists, anyway. Nothing – and I mean nothing – is more annoying than a tourist trying to take a selfie on Oxford Street or near Big Ben. Some of us have got places to be!
2. Dropping £5 on a beer seems normal to you. I mean, it is a craft beer. Come to think of it, a pint for a fiver is such a good deal!
3. Spending 90% of your salary on rent? That’s totally normal as well. For only £500 a month you can live in a shoebox-sized room in zone 4 with three flatmates – #livingthelife! The idea of actually buying a house? Hahaha, let’s not even go there. The remaining ten percent of your income can be spent on the aforementioned beers and brunch…
4. Because seriously, is there anything better than brunch? Anything that gives people a socially acceptable excuse to drink before noon is good in your books. Don’t worry about going to work hungover – everybody does it here.
5. Nothing surprises you anymore. Ever since a Michael Jackson impersonator tried to rope me into joining his church on the night bus at 3am I have found it difficult to be shocked by anything life throws at me. Thanks London, I am now officially immune to weirdness.
6. Having said that, people trying to talk to you or – heaven forbid – smiling at you on the street are definitely cause for concern. Friendliness should definitely always be met with suspicion and utmost confusion.
7. There should be no social life outside of the pub. This is the only place where it’s acceptable to talk to strangers… sometimes. It’s also a place to chat up people, albeit only if they’re fit – and will only happen if you’re pissed (spot the Britishisms).
8. The second the sun comes out you run to the nearest pub or park. Yes, you will stay there until it starts raining/snowing/hailing or at least until it closes… which will be at midnight. Woo!
9. You spend half your life apologising to people but you’re constantly angry. Passive aggression and sarcasm are your two most reliable coping mechanisms.
10. You know how to pronounce ‘Leicester Square’ and ‘Holborn’. Anyone who doesn’t is a wanker or a tourist – and hence a wanker.
11. The word ‘wanker’ – as well as ‘bellend’, ‘knobhead’ or ‘twat’ – is now an integral part of your vocabulary and can sometimes be used as a term of endearment among friends. A ‘cuppa’ is also a word you now use, with a straight face.
12. You no longer notice the sirens or traffic noise. Your ears have learned to block it out and, besides, it’s not like you leave your house without your headphones. What if somebody tried to talk to you, convert you, get you to fill in a survey or make you donate to charity?
13. You don’t own a car, because, why? In fact, you’ve probably forgotten how to drive or never even got your licence (yup, that’s me).
14. Half your life is spent on public transport and you’ve got all the rules down. You always have your Oyster ready before going through the gate on the tube and anybody who doesn’t is the enemy of humanity. Are they crazy?! If you miss this train you’ll have to wait a whole three minutes for the next one!
15. Walking down the street is a 5-minute round the world trip. The off-licence owner is Turkish, the bartender Polish, the newsagent Nigerian and the laundrette run by an Indian family. As infuriating as London can be it’s also wonderfully diverse!
16. Citymapper is the best app ever. There shall be no discussions, ever. Uber is a close second though.
17. It’s dark when you go to work and dark when you come back, at least one half of the year. This seems perfectly normal to you.
18. You think it’s normal to breathe poisonous air. Seriously – according to a recent King’s College London study nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London because of long-term exposure to air pollution. Disgraceful.
19. You know umbrellas are a basic necessity but also a frightening murder weapon. The amount of times you’ve almost lost an eye to one of these contraptions… *shudders*
20. The morning rush hour doesn’t seem weird to you. Being wedged between two people’s sweaty armpits while passerbys step on your feet is not your personal hell – it just means it’s 8am again.
21. Friends who live on the opposite side of London may as well be in Australia. That house-warming they invited you to? You’ve got that work thing on Friday that you can’t get out of. Oh, did you say Friday? Yeah, you mean Saturday. You’d love to make it but really really can’t.
22. You’re either from the North or the South of London and you’ll never fail to remind people which is better. Mainly because anything South of the Thames is basically France and hence awful. Yes, you may have a guess whose side I’m on.
23. Through your social media you make the rest of the world believe that the majority of your London life is spent at pop-up restaurants and fancy rooftop bars. You’re the only one who knows that there’s no place you’d rather spend your free time than your bed with a big Indian takeaway and Netflix.
24. But at the end of the day it’s all ok because the museums – which you still haven’t been to – are free. That definitely makes it all worth it.
25. You’ll never understand how people can live anywhere but in London. I mean, it’s not the centre of the universe for nothing! What do you mean it isn’t? You’re clearly just jealous.
Have you ever lived in London? Do you think I’m being melodramatic or do these seem true to you? Anything you would add to the list? This recovering ex-Londoner would love to know!
All gifs via wifflegif.