Tag Archives: Tourists

Ten things Londoners never do

As we start the season of ‘budget tourism’ here are some hints of how not to look like you’re a visitor to London. Well, apart from that old chestnut of what side to stand when travelling on an escalator.

Converse with a cabbie

If you decide to take a ride in a black cab, don’t ask the driver’s opinion of that precocious Swede Greta Thunberg. At £55,000 the electric cab is near twice the price its predecessor was a few years ago. In an attempt to make London the world’s greenest city, perfectly serviceable cabs are being ‘retired’ and replaced by luxury electric limousines.

Join the queue

That popular tourist hot-spot, the waxwork emporium on the Marylebone Road where thousands queue outside waiting for a chance to take a selfie with Michael Jackson or David Beckham, not with Rolf Harris who curiously is now absent. Those possessed with forward-planning have even stumped up extra to bypass the queue, little do they realise the highlight of the visit is mingling with others while standing in the most polluted place in London. This busy road has three-and-a-half times the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas linked to asthma, lung infections and other respiratory problems, in fact, the Baker Street/Marylebone Road junction has no equal, it’s a chance to really take home a long-lasting London souvenir – emphysema.

We’re just are not interested

Don’t ask what the Royals are up to, where they live or ask if they have met. The newspapers talk of little else, as Harry and Meghan changed their domicile to the cooler climes of our colonial cousins, insisting we don’t mention them, or their Instagram posts.

Eat 1960 culinary delights

Described in the Guardian by David Mitchell as “rarer than the Siberian tiger, all that we have left of a proud heritage of serving shoe leather with béarnaise sauce to neon-addled out-of-towners”. Only tourists would be wooed by that red light district-esque glow, order a very OK ribeye and have the whole of Leicester Square ogle you through your floor-to-ceiling glass cage, followed by that perennial favourite, Black Forest gateau, go there to experience the last vestige of the British tradition of culinary incompetence.

Enjoy the authentic London climate

Queue up to get an upper seat on a tourist bus. Sit in the rain in your complimentary, and monogrammed, thin plastic cape, whilst advertising the bus operator, enjoying the bracing rain driven by the latest hurricane with a curious moniker.

Experience Magnificent Desolation

Buzz Aldrin’s description of the moon could be a metaphor for the Emirate Air Line, that Boris vanity project offering overpriced cable car trips from one deserted east London location to another wasteland. But tourists can use it to get away from the crowds.

Walk on the wrong side of the street

Look, Londoners never walk down the east end of Oxford Street. Most locals probably don’t know about the pop-up shops that proliferate this end of the street. Bootleg counterfeit perfume, Union Flag suitcases, Beatles condoms and Harry and Meghan mugs, or for the less discerning, Prince Andrew pizza cutters.

Take selfish selfies

Whatever do not try to have your picture taken beside the Queen’s Guards. They have a job and tradition to maintain. At the most inappropriate moment could start walking over you should you impede their progress. At Trafalgar Square, there are floating Yodas just waiting for the hapless tourist to be photographed for the price or their next beer.

Be taken for a ride

So you’ve been to see Mama Mia! Now you need to get back to your hotel. There are a plethora of choices: cab; bus; tube; walk; or a Boris bike. But there is one Londoners would never use – rickshaws. These Chinese takeaways have absolutely no regulatory checks, but I suppose these would be of little use when experiencing fission of fear being transported up a one-way street against the traffic flow.

Enunciate correctly

Cockneys might be famous for not having an ‘H’ in their vocabulary, but for everyone else its ‘CE’ that’s absent. All the words that contain it: Leicester Square, Gloucester Place, Worcester Park. Nope, those two letters don’t really exist.

Lost in translation

London cabbies have the reputation that they have an opinion on everything; they will not go south of the River; and know just about anything to do with London, which we do little to dispel, but are patently untrue.

This third urban myth that we are in fact just a mobile information desk to catch ‘The Lost of London’ and point them in the right direction must consume hours of a cabbie’s time every day.

[C]ONTEMPLATING THE MEANING OF LIFE whilst waiting at traffic lights, The Lost Tourists break into one’s hypnotic state, surprise and momentarily disorientated you. They ask with trepidation sometimes in a northern accent “Do you know the way to the Lyceum for the Lion King”?

You see it’s 7.21 in the evening, they are hopelessly lost and the show commences in nine minutes. Sure you can drive them, but it’s Covent Garden, gridlocked as usual, and you know with the one-way systems it’s far quicker to walk.

Flummoxed

You are flummoxed, but you must never reveal this, you’re the world authority on everything London, right? But as you spend an entire lifetime driving, walking in the opposite direction to the road’s one-way system is – well just weird.

Don’t show your indecision, not a frown must pass your countenance, not even for a nano-second. “Certainly Sir, it isn’t far from here, just a few minutes’ walk away”.

That has bought a few more seconds thought. Do you now send them across the Piazza, but what does the back of the Opera House look like? Would they know when to turn right? And are they going to even know when to turn into that famous square?

Your momentarily pause in answering has brought on near hysteria from the girlfriend, who has spent hours getting ready little realising that Londoners dress down nowadays to go to the theatre. They have spent nearly an hour walking around the area’s labyrinthine streets and to cap it all can hardly understand the cabbie with his cockney accent.

Private hire attracting my attention

By now, and I swear TfL do this deliberately – the lights have changed and that nice private hire driver in his Mercedes is suggesting, by the use of his horn, that conversing with pedestrians just isn’t to his liking.

The best pedestrian route that was forming in your brain has disappeared from your consciousness, and to make matters worse at the end of the road, now empty of traffic due to your inability to more forward, is a fare.

“Look walk just down to the end of the street, turn left and you can’t miss it”. Yes very professional, but at least they start to move in the right direction. And come to think of it you haven’t told them that the start of the show is not to be missed with a sun rising over Africa’s savannah.

Now, where was that fare I saw?

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 31st January 2012

Lost in translation

London cabbies have the reputation that they have an opinion on everything; they will not go south of the River; and know just about anything to do with London, which we do little to dispel, but are patiently untrue.

This third urban myth that we are in fact just a mobile information desk to catch ‘The Lost of London’ and point them in the right direction must consume hours of a cabbie’s time every day.

[C]ontemplating the meaning of life whilst waiting at traffic lights, the lost break into one’s hypnotic state, surprise and momentarily disorientated you. They ask with trepidation sometimes in a northern accent “Do you know the way to the Lyceum for the Lion King”?

You see it’s 7.21 in the evening, they are hopelessly lost and the show commences in nine minutes. Sure you can drive them, but it’s Covent Garden, gridlocked as usual, and you know with the one-way systems it’s far quicker to walk.

You are flummoxed, but you must never reveal this, you’re the world authority on everything London, right? But as you spend an entire lifetime driving, walking in the opposite direction to the road’s one-way system is – well just weird.

Don’t show your indecision, not a frown must pass your countenance, not even for a nano-second. “Certainly Sir, it isn’t far from here, just a few minutes’ walk away”.

That has bought a few more seconds thought. Do you now send them across the Piazza, but what does the back of the Opera House look like? Would they know when to turn right? And are they going to even know when to turn into that famous square?

Your momentarily pause in answering has brought on near hysteria from the girlfriend, who has spent hours getting ready little realising that Londoners dress down nowadays to go to the theatre. They have spent nearly an hour walking around the area’s labyrinthine streets and to cap it all can hardly understand the cabbie with his cockney accent.

By now, and I swear TfL do this deliberately – the lights have changed and that nice private hire driver in his Mercedes is suggesting, by the use of his horn, that conversing with pedestrians just isn’t to his liking.

The best pedestrian route that was forming in your brain has disappeared from your consciousness, and to make matters worse at the end of the road, now empty of traffic due to your inability to more forward, is a fare.

“Look walk just down to the end of the street, turn left and you can’t miss it”. Yes very professional, but at least they start to move in the right direction. And come to think of it you haven’t told them that the start of the show is not to be missed with a sun rising over Africa’s savannah.

Now where was that fare I saw?