1. Stand on the left of an escalator
It’s funny that something so innocuous can arouse the inner Travis Bickle in even the most placid Londoner. But that’s just how it is: we like one side of an escalator kept free for us to walk up and down and heaven help anyone who gets in our way. Try flouting the rules if you must, but expect to be deafened by the sound of tutting.
2. Ride a rickshaw
Twenty quid to be ridden 100m by a surly bloke with James Dean’s approach to the Highway Code? Bargain! For obvious reasons, few Londoners bother with these mobile money pits, but visitors inexplicably seem to ride them with the enthusiasm of children. It might be a novel way to get around, but it’ll probably end up costing more than your airfare over here.
3. Take the tube from Leicester Square to Covent Garden
If Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas (aka ‘Dumb and Dumber’) ever came to London, they’d almost certainly take the tube from Leicester Square to Covent Garden – the journey is that dumb. As with many stations in central London, it’s far quicker to walk between them than to schlep down the escalators, wait for a train, then schlep back up. Don’t be dumberer.
4. Jump any kind of queue
Do you want to make us mad? Really? Do you want to see a line of Bruce Banners all simultaneously turn green and start smashing things up? Are you sure? Have you thought this through? Do you really want to call Joe Pesci funny? Do you really want to say hello to Pacino’s ‘little friend’? Do you think it’s a good idea to cross Walter White or steal Tony Soprano’s gabagool? Yeah, we didn’t think so, now get to the back of the fucking queue.
5. Play music on your phone
Whatever music you’re into, there’s a pretty high likelihood that not everyone in the vicinity is quite so enamoured. Those around you might even – shock horror! – see it as R&B noise pollution. With that in mind, stop playing it out loud and buy some ruddy headphones!
6. Lose your mates on a night out
Okay, party animals, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: using public transport to get from Shoreditch back to Acton at 4am is about as lonely, laborious and plagued by goggle-eyed freaks as Frodo and Sam’s journey through Mordor. So, unless you fancy six hellish hours on several night buses, stick with your friends and share a cab home.
7. Go shopping on Oxford Street
Imagine if there were chain stores in the Black Hole of Calcutta. Now throw in some really sub-par street dancers and you’ve basically got Oxford Street on a weekend. Sure, from time to time every Londoner must run the gauntlet of Europe’s busiest shopping street. But it’s not something we look forward to, and its unwavering popularity is truly baffling. I mean, who really thinks ‘Oh, I must stock up on “Keep Calm and Carry On” mugs’?
8. Barge on to a train
If there was a world cup of etiquette, we’d win 7-1 against every country out there. It’s something we’re very good at and incredibly proud of – so woe betide anyone who decides to flaunt our code of conduct. Allowing passengers off a train before trying to board is part of the politeness that built an empire, won two world wars, created the NHS and birthed The Beatles. Trample over it and you will feel our impeccably mannered wrath.
9. Kill and roast a swan
Walking into your nearest park, hacking the head off a swan and taking it home for dinner might be the norm in some parts of the world, but it’s rather frowned upon (and totally illegal) over here. Not only is it commonly believed that all swans are owned by the Queen (even though they’re not), but we’re also quite fond of them, beautiful creatures that they are. A Turkish-born gentleman learnt this lesson the hard way recently, after choosing a nearby lake over Morrisons in his quest for an affordable Sunday roast, and was fined £215.
10. Fly into Southend
Want to discover a new meaning for the phrase ‘terminal illness’? Then try journeying to one of London’s more ‘outlying’ airports. We’re talking to you Stansted, Luton, Gatwick, and now even Southend (trying to pass yourself off as a suburb, tut!). Travelling to Heathrow seems to take several weeks on the Piccadilly Line (you can, of course, pay through the nose for the express train), and the travel time to more distant airports is often longer than the flight itself. If you need to do it in the middle of the night, forget it. No holiday is worth it.
Take a look at Londoners’ top ten guilty pleasures.
By Dan Frost