So living in London for two weeks was an experience. I discovered that the pollution problem really is that bad because the traffic is so heavy you inhale petrol fumes instead of fresh air. Fortunately, I didn’t meet any ”crazy” London people like my friend on placement in London who had the joy of being on the same tube as a man who was telling everyone that he was going to kill them. Overall, I liked it, but I did learn some important things during my time there:
1 Out of all the accents in London, a Yorkshire one generates the most interest.
London is an international city, so I did not think that my Yorkshire accent would generate any interest when talking to the people of London, but it does. As soon as people heard my broad Yorkshire accent omitting the word ‘’the’’ (‘Going twerk’ is how we say ”Going to work”) then people were eager to know where I was from; I even had the pleasure of one man saying ‘’What accent is THAT!?’’ after I had delivered him the directions he had requested from me. It seems that even in a city that is home to a variety of international guests that the Yorkshire accent is the one that excites people the most. Perhaps it is the ‘’Educating Yorkshire’’ effect.
2) A Northerner should never shop unescorted
I have visited Oxford street a few times, but since I am not a permanent resident of London the lure of the bright lights and reasonably priced clothes is still one that I cannot resist. I am like a moth to the high street flame. However, this is the first time I ventured onto Oxford Street unescorted, and I soon learned that this was a terrible mistake.
Admittedly, walking past a shop and then stopping and walking back to look at an item in the window was a huge error on my part. But I noticed that as soon as one sales assistant had cornered me and heard the accent that pound signs appeared in his eyes as he realised I was an out of towner, and I could hear him thinking ”Ding! Ding! DING! JACKPOT!”. I spent the entire time trying to get away from the sales assistants who were like vultures around a carcass as they tried to sell me everything from sunglasses (in September!?), iphone cases and a t-shirt of Rihanna licking whipped cream off her finger (Not going to lie, it was an erotic t-shirt). Be warned, Oxford Street is not the place for an unescorted Northerner.
3) There are various ways you can get ripped off.
I noticed in the independent shops on Oxford street they don’t have price tags on things so they can pretend to offer you a ‘’discount’’ which is basically them ripping you off marginally less than normally do. However, there are other ways you can get ripped off which I had the misfortune of experiencing during my stay in London.
I met up with a friend and we went to Chinatown where I was promised food for the unbeatable price of six pounds. Unfortunately, the restaurant we were going to had a queue out of the door (word travels fast) so we went to a restaurant next door which was equally reasonably priced. We ordered spring rolls and chow mein and expected to wait at least twenty minutes for the starter, but in reality it appeared two minutes later. I thought that was suspiciously quick but didn’t think too much about it until the main arrived immediately after the starter had been plonked in front of us. It was only when I heard the microwave ping that I realised I had spent ten pounds on a microwave meal.
4) The pavement is actually a runway.
I once remember someone telling me that ‘’The North is the place where fashion trends come to die’’ which is debatable but also a little offensive, but I cannot deny is that London is the place where fashion trends are born. One of the things I have loved about living in London is observing the fashion, and how the pavements in London are not merely pavements but runways where people showcase the best of their autumn/winter wardrobe 2013. Of course, this may be due to the fact fashion week has been in full flow during my stay in London, but nevertheless I still find it fascinating to observe people strutting down the street in such a way that would put Naomi Campbell out of a job.
5) You have to have a ‘’Transport’’ face
Smiling at complete strangers on public transport, and even striking up a conversation with them is completely normal in Yorkshire, but a complete no-no in London. One of my friends told me that if I actually smiled at someone on public transport that they would think I was A) Crazy B) Going to stab them or C) All of the above. So as a result I have observed people’s behaviour on public transport and the vast majority of them conform to the ‘’Earphones in and stare blankly into space’’ behaviour pattern. You can be stood so close to someone that you’re practically fornicating and you still have to straight ahead like it isn’t happening.