What Makes A Londoner?

London, Observatory

It’s one of those questions that come up on pub evenings: Are Londoners born or raised? Heredity has lost out over environment. It’s not who your parents are but how you live, and London is working proof. After a period of living here, residents quickly adopt London habits. Being able to tick any three of the following London habits probably means you’re totally assimilated and are now beyond help.
1. Predisposition to politeness
2. Excessive use of sarcasm
3. Occasional bout of tipsiness
4. Smiling indulgently at suburbanites up for weekend parties in angel wings
5. Taking secret pleasure in rainy Sundays
6. Annoyance at Northerners who shout things in unison
7. Knowing your way around the National Theatre or, God forbid, the Barbican
8. Ability to find nearest good pub/ restaurant without recourse to SatNav
9. Avoidance of Oxford Street unless in dire emergency (ie out of moisturiser)
10. Ability to walk past protest meetings/street performers without stopping to gawp

13 comments on “What Makes A Londoner?”

  1. Evelyn Sawyer says:

    Oh my, 9 and a half out of 10! Still can’t find my way round the Barbican at all but I am expert in stealth visits to National Theatre loos when not actually attending an event there.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    But I come in at 4 out of ten and I’ve only spent 10 days in London – and I’m a suburbanite of another city, in another country.

  3. I.A.M. says:

    Seven out of Ten. Odd. I’ve visited England twice, but only London once the same number of times as Spain. I don’t feel Spanish, yet according to that, The City welcomes me with open arms. One suspects the list isn’t exclusive enough, and should include things such as “knowing, when on the Bakerloo line comes to a halt and the Tannoy suggests using the stairs that what to do is to groan and open your book instead”, or “no longer thinking the pigeons in front of St Paul’s are ‘cute’, and you consider making a pie”.

    Isn’t there a list of things in the Ray Davies song from The Storyteller? “Don’t forget the Krays!” and so on?

  4. I.A.M. says:

    Found the lyrics. For those who wish, read the words to Ray Davies’s song “London Town” by clicking here.

    Now here’s a question: where does one start to learn more about The Kray Twins? All one hears mostly is “they was bad ‘uns, they was!”, or the warning “never speak about them; no good’ll come of that!” Wonderful advice, but hardly illuminating.

  5. martin says:

    6 out of 10, and I live near San Francisco-however, I’ve spent several months of my life in London-just not consecutively. I plan on moving there as soon as there is an opening in a decent bookstore.

  6. Greg Watts says:

    A Londoner is also someone who

    knows that when Tube platforms are packed it’s smarter to go one stop in the other direction in order to be able to get on a train

    knows that the best charity shops are in the posh neighbourhoods

    knows about the existence of the Woolwich ferry

    knows where the handful of decent fish and chip shops are

    knows that City Airport is a traveller’s dream

    never stands on the left hand side of an escalator on the Underground

    never buys hot dogs from street vendors in the West End

    never renews their Oyster card or Travelcard at a Tube or railway station on a Monday morning

  7. Evelyn Sawyer says:

    Agree with all Greg says as well. Especially City Airport, which has the added bonus that you can take off over the river so you can sing the Eastenders theme tune to yourself if so inclined as the plane is climbing. Actually that might just be me……

  8. Helen Martin says:

    I met the Kray twins in a book by Elizabeth George, “What Happened Before He Shot Her”. The Krays (apparently) were particularly vicious gang leaders who were specialists in “persuasion” and could be hired for same. If you were once connected with them you couldn’t really get clear of them, not in one piece, anyway. When I read it there was something about the writing that made me feel they were not only real but particularly scary.

  9. Kay says:

    10/10, my man. YES.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I guess I’m a Londoner. Which is interesting, since I live in Ohio.

  11. Sadie Protools says:

    2 other Londoners? :o}

  12. colleen says:

    Hi Christopher, wondering have you ever been to the RSA’s Great Room (lecture hall) and boggled at the humungous paintings within, by James Barry? An Irish Catholic, painting these in plain sight during the Gordon Riots…I think JB’d be a superb thread in a B&M story…fascinatingly complex chap, in circle of Johnson, Garrick, Reynolds, Fuseli, kicked out of Royal Academy…and with a niece, Dr James Miranda Barry….and that’s another scintillating story…
    All good wishes
    C, Ireland

  13. “Excessive use of sarcasm”, this is the one that I find myself using the most. A lot of my friends have told me off for over using it. Ah well I guess I am a Londoner at heart even though I have now moved town.

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