London Lingo

Londoners love a nickname it’s what sets them apart from other cities’ occupants and the cohesion that draws them together.

Recently we have started giving a moniker to many of London’s tallest and iconic built structures: The Shard, Cheesegrater,
Helter Skelter, Razor, Glass Testicle and
Walkie-Talkie.

Here is a list of some uniquely London words with CabbieBlog’s definitions:

Ken: London’s ex-Mayor with socialist tendencies left of Lenin.

South Ken: Not Ken’s antipodeans’ cousin but an area of West London populated by the French.

Boris: Ken’s nemesis. Current Mayor of London, with the carefully created persona of a bumbling tousled haired fool. Aspirations to be next Prime Minister. Boris is also a generic term for anything new in London (see below).

Boris bikes: A means to experience firsthand the cut and thrust of London’s heavy traffic at very modest prices.

Boris bus: A green replacement for the much loved Routemaster developed at a cost of only 10 times the original.

Boris buoys: Capsules for earnest fools so they may be suspended by overhead wires above the Royal Victoria Dock while watching planes from City Airport fly directly towards them.

Offy: A corner shop where wine and spirits of dubious origin may be purchased illegally out of hours.

Scab cab: A wart on London’s excellent taxi service.

Tube: A public service used to transport over 4 million daily subterranially at temperatures in excess of those permitted by the EU for animals.

The Knowledge: A lifestyle choice whereby prospective cabbies can give up on normal living for 4 years.

Standard: The survivor (helped by Russian money) from the original three evening newspapers. The cry by vendors “Star, News, Standard” will not be heard again in the capital.

The City: Most large inhabited conurbations are called cities. In London a square mile of virtually uninhabited real estate is called ‘The City’. It also accounts for 20 per cent of the Nation’s wealth.

Square Mile: See above, but with much of London, it isn’t square nor a mile in area, it’s just over.

Congestion Charge: An oxymoron. Neither reducing traffic flows nor charging when traffic increases.

Silicon Roundabout: London’s answer to the famous Valley without the sun or orange juice.

Bendy Buses: Ken’s solution to reduce congestion on London’s medieval narrow streets. They were 42ft long German juggernauts – it didn’t.

M25: An expensively built free car park encircling London.

Westway: An elevated car park with panoramic views across West London.

Mind the Gap: Recorded announcements reminding passengers of the pitfall for not looking down when alighting from a train. One actor wanted a royalty every time his voice was heard – he wasn’t employed.

Yuppie: The acronym that spawned a thousand others describing City workers.

The Palace: There are six palaces in London. Buck House, as it’s sometimes called, is the ugliest.

The Tower: Only the White Tower can be construed as a ‘tower’ the rest is just a medium sized castle.

A-Zed: The bible for the London geographer. Said to have been compiled single handed by Phyllis Pearsall walking 3,000 miles. A CrossRail tunnel boring machine has been named in her honour.

CrossRail: It does what it says on the tin. A rail running east to west across the capital. Its construction has produced some of the largest holes in Europe.

GMT: Greenwich Mean Time used universally as a measurement, well of time. Greenwich is the only place where one can straddle a brass strip denoting its position.

Cockney: Pronounced ‘Cok-nee’. Said to be a person born within sound of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow. The cacophony of London’s traffic means you have to be born in the bell tower.

Bobby: London policemen, a nickname given as their founder was Robert Peel.

Home Counties: The area surrounding the M25 car park.

Up North: Anywhere north of Watford 35 miles from central London.

South of the River: Pronounced ‘Sarf’. A hinterland that cabbies traditionally avoid.

The River: There are numerous water courses in London, but only one ‘River’ once described as “Liquid History”.

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