London's been great so far, what with the job and Visa and a new car and all. But every now and then I think to myself..'WTF am I doing here?!? Some of the things that are part of the norm here just don't make any sense and it can really drive an Aussie up the wall. So here's me, off -loading some Britishism's off my chest.
1. Everyone walks/drives/rides bikes as bad as they do on the streets of Vietnam
It's chaotic. Just when you think people are going one way, they throw you off and walk right into you. There's no sense of personal space or consideration. It's all me, me, me. I remember Christmas last year walking around Oxford Circus (BAD idea) and doing the whole sideways dance with someone just trying to walk around them. Instead of laughing it off and giving me a sheepish grin like I was doing, the grouch started swearing off at me and being a complete dick! What a dick!
And now that I've got the car, I've realised the same applies to their roads. Traffic lights are weird and parking rules don't make sense. Lanes suddenly merge without warning and people just make up rules as they go along. For such a polite society, it just completely goes up the creek with the anonymity of the streets.
This is the standard version of their 'Hi, how are you?' Yet, it's not quite a full greeting and not quite a fully formed questioned. I'd usually answer with a 'I'm fine, how are you?', in which I'd occasionally get an odd look. Just say HI like normal people folks. And don't get me started on 'innit'.
3. Weather talk
It's easy to get sucked into talking about the weather. Usually because at this time of year, it's so bad! And not only is it talk about the current weather situation, English people love to regale you with what the weather was like this time last year. And the year that had that really bad weather. And then that year where they had a great Summer. And oddly enough you yourself find yourself talking about that long, cold Winter 2 years ago THAT YOU WEREN'T EVEN HERE FOR. It's bonkers.
4. Umm, excuse me, I don't mean to be rude but [insert completely innocuous statement]
If there is any a microscopic whiff of someone, somewhere out there in the entire universe being remotely offended to a question/statement/topic then the English will try to preempt this by inserting a series of 'beat around the bush' kind of words beforehand to deflect the impending offense. E.g. Our lovely house guests coming in and smelling Kevin's awesome cooking but instead of just going 'Yum, that smells great, what is it?' it went more like 'Hi, excuse us to interrupt, don't mean to pry, but what did you make for dinner?'
5. Bad English TV/celebrities
Eastenders, Emmerdale, Peter Andre. All these incredibly boring shows plague the TV day in and day out. And to make it worse you go to work and people are then talking about it as well. I realise now why we watch so much American TV in Australia. Because stuff actually happens in them. We were seriously watching a show with our housemates which consisted of people on their couch at home watching TV and the point was that you were watching their reactions to TV. WHAT? Why?
6. Terrible Food
OK it's not all bad but sometimes you got to ask yourself why you're paying thirteen pounds for a shitty bowl of noodles when you know there's a delicious bowl of noodles in Cabramatta for half the price. For a country that's known for battered fish and 'hearty' food, it's been a dismal search looking for fresh, tasty and cheap food. The upside is, we're cooking a lot at home now.
What's with the spitting? Everywhere you go, people are just hocking up their salivary juices all over the public pavement. One guy did it right in front of me as I was going by on my bike. Disgusting.
I guess because the country is so old and has so much history, people and the 'way of doing things' tend to get stuck at some point in the past. Just go to the bank and try to get yourself an account and you'll realise how backwards the service is. They just don't seem to have a proper protocol in place and people just tend to make up their own processes as they go along, much like their road rules. Or doing tax! That's still an ongoing thing for me, 7 months after I paid my accountants a hefty 200 pounds to sort it out. Sadly, people are either just stuck in the dark ages or a little moronic. Or a bit of both.
I was going to do a 9 and 10 but I ran out of steam. There are plenty of nice things to say too otherwise we wouldn't be here for another three years. But let's just say they better be reeeeal good after all this rubbish I'm putting up with.