Let’s say you’ve left Zone 9 (we know it’s unlikely, who would actually want to leave London?!). You’re not in Manchester, Edinburgh or any other big city, but you’re also not in ‘The Holiday’-style isolated countryside. You’re in the mysterious middle ground known as the suburbs – and everything is confusing.
1. Saying ‘hi’ to strangers on walks
They’re walking in the opposite direction and you’ll almost certainly never see them again: WHY DO YOU NEED TO GREET THEM?
Only teenagers and card-carrying pensioners get the bus. Mainly because it only comes once every 96 minutes and night buses don’t exist.
3. Bus timetables
London: you stand at the bus stop and it comes within 15 minutes. Not-in-London: you have to walk to the stop 40 minutes before you actually want to travel to look at a tiny spreadsheet.
4. Silence and darkness
*Drums fingers on table…*
5. No phone signal
*Continues drumming fingers on table…*
How are you supposed to work out if the thing buzzing near your ear is going to kill you?
7. Specifically foxes
Suburban folk think foxes are glossy ‘Animals of Farthing Wood’ characters not bin-raiding vermin. Confusing.
8. Weird closing times
The post office is closed on a Wednesday afternoon because that’s ‘how it’s always been’. All shops shut by 5.30pm, except the late-night supermarket (which is open till 9pm).
9. Lack of the stand-on-the-right rule
Small-town escalators are lawless. LAWLESS.
How do you know if the field you’re walking through is owned by a shotgun-wielding farmer or not?
11. Distrust of machines
Oh hey, suburbanites – you’re under the age of 60 and you’re going to stand in a queue that’s the length of the shop because of that one time the self-checkout machine wouldn’t scan your banana? Sounds legit.
12. Car chat
‘The M56 is blocked.’ ‘Did you see the traffic on the A573 last night?’ ‘Petrol is so expensive!’ You have nothing to add to these conversations.
13. Honesty boxes
Waaaaiiiit… people actually leave stuff outside their house and trust strangers to put money in a box for it?
14. No street food
Forget tacos, lobster rolls and steamed buns: only burgers and chips come in vans in the suburbs. THIS IS A BARREN WILDERNESS.
15. Traditional festivals
Once a year everyone dresses like Victorians and parades through the village – and no-one thinks it’s creepy.
16. Morris Dancers
WHO ARE THESE STRANGE BELL-SHAKING PEOPLE?
17. Town criers
Having a bellowing voice and large bell makes you a respected member of the community. Makes total sense…
18. Retail parks
Why go to a shopping centre when you can visit Next, Homebase and Pizza Hut on a depressing island at the side of an A road?
Both thrilling and terrifying. Now you’ve dined while travelling in a vehicle, nothing will be the same.
20. No pavement
AND PEOPLE THINK LONDON’S FULL OF HAZARDS?
21. Dangerous traffic
Oh shit, cars actually move really fast when there’s no traffic.
22. Single-lane roads
Great idea, nothing better than reversing into a hedge to let a tractor past.
23. No chain coffee shops
You’re going to have to head into town to reach a Starbucks, Pret, Nero or Costa. And good luck ever finding an Eat.
24. Charity shops actually being good
THANK YOU rich old people of the suburbs and your innate distrust of eBay!
25. Car boot sales
In London: professional retailers selling vintage furniture to fashion bloggers. In the suburbs: North Face dads selling golf memorabilia to each other.
Myth or reality?
27. That sub-genres still exist
And they’re more intense. Eyeliner-smeared emo kids sit under the tree on one side of the park, indie kids sit on the benches at the other end and the football team hang out in-between.
28. Lack of irony
From the cute china and floral décor to bake sales and village fetes, everything’s done earnestly. There’s no sense of kitsch.
29. Village celebs
Star in the rugby club panto once and you’ll be a hero of the town for the next five years.
30. Village magazines
Usually the vanity project of a rich resident. Cover stars include: local kids celebrating the harvest festival and the town crier.
31. No Uber
‘There are currently no drivers in your area.’ SOB.
32. No takeaway food after 11.30pm.
Because why would anyone want to eat in the night-time?!
33. No hipsters
No one’s going to recognise your sports luxe top is Alexander Wang for H&M, they’ll just think it’s weird. Oh, and only pensioners have beards and moustaches.
34. No choice
There’s one club, one nice restaurant, one supermarket, one corner shop and one school. (Around 12 pubs, seven churches and six hairdressers/tanning shops though.)
35. Cheap drinks
You just got change from a tenner for three glasses of wine. Welcome to booze heaven.
Like merry-go-rounds for cars, they’re surely designed to make driving impossible?
37. Dogs are allowed everywhere
Genuine question: does everyone in the suburbs constantly carry a dog biscuit in their pocket?
38. Everyone knowing everyone
In London, you barely know your next door neighbours. In the suburbs, all the kids went to school with each other and all the adults go to the same pub every Friday. THEY KNOW YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM.
See six amazing London infographics here.