Moving abroad is scary. New city, new culture and probably a new language – terrifying but exciting. It’s why I love it. It’s also why I assumed moving to London would be a walk in the park, a breeze one might say…not so.
Everyone jokes how northerners and southerners are different breeds, how it’s basically two different countries and I’m finding out now they’re not far wrong. The differences may start with gravy on chips but they certainly don’t end with the differences in pronunciation on grass and bath.
The one thing I’m really finding it hard to get to grips with though is public transport here and how they use it…sounds stupid. It’s really not as simple as buses and tubes. There is a social etiquette one must follow in order to survive. So here it is, my guide for northerners: how to use public transport in London.
Be selfish – think of no-one. If you can see one free seat in a tube carriage as it approaches the platform do not take into consideration the other eight people that are in front of you also trying to get onto the tube – do what you have to do. Push, elbow, squeeze, whatever you must to get that seat. Even if you’re only travelling one tube stop you’ll feel better for it!
Forget your manners – gone are the days of saying ‘thank you’ or ‘excuse me’. If you want to get past people off the bus or tube you say ‘this is me’ or ‘can you move’ or if you’re really rude just push. Unfortunately it’s not possible to say thank you to the bus driver for driving you as you don’t get off the bus at the front, don’t try!
Learn to tut…loudly – now, there is limited space on transport so taking suitcases or even remotely larger bags is completely unreasonable. But don’t do the British thing and ignore it. Make sure that person knows the inconvenience they’re causing – tut at them.
…or stare – if your tutting abilities are failing or for some reason you’ve lost your voice then practice that deadly stare. Either way, make sure they know you do not approve of their choice of luggage and their mode of transportation with said luggage. Oh and if you’re on the central line suffocating with five business types surrounding you and an unavoidable jerk of the tube causes one of them to accidentally nudge you….you can use the stare/tut here as well!
Finally, forget everything your parents told you and walk up the escalators. If for no other reason than because there is a queue to just stand there. Plus everyone will think you’re a real Londoner and going somewhere really important, like to get your morning lar-Tay.
London is a brilliant city, and all in all I can’t say I’ve met one bad person. But there’s only one way to survive getting around here and niceties just don’t come into the equation…oh and if you think you can stay a nice person when travelling and just walk everywhere – well that doesn’t work either. If you stop you’ll get trodden on, or stampeded – literally. Maybe try a bike?