I think it would be fun if RG ran a ‘cultural faux pas in…’ series so I’m going to kick things off by asking: What are some cultural faux pas in London?
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There are so many.
• Attempting to pronounce Leicester Square without prior training. And visiting it after about 7pm at the weekend.
• Running through Kings Cross at rush hour screaming “BUT WHERE IS PLATFORM NINE-AND-THREE-QUARTERS”
• Eating at an Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse or the Rainforest Cafe.
• Trying to order shots and/or cocktails in the pub. Wine, beer and gin are your only options.
• Putting padlocks on the Millenium Bridge.
• Excitedly asking people on the street if they know Kate and Wills.
All of these. Especially the pub one. Bars, fine, but pubs…? Unless it’s empty and the bartender looks bored, in which case you can also order the “what do you recommend?” and the “whatever you fancy making”.
Standing on the wrong side of the escalator when you’re getting the tube, especially in rush hour… Not sure if this is really cultural, but it’s definitely annoying!
Personally, I think doing your scones wrong is a huge faux pas, but then I’m from Devon so it’s obligatory to care about these things! In case anyone’s wondering, the Devonian (ie correct, don’t listen to those Cornish!) way of having a [plain, not fruit] scone is to cut it in half, put on lots of clotted cream, then put jam on top and enjoy. I’d say never do jam then cream, but that’s where most Brits differ, I think. Pretty much everyone can agree that preparing it like a sandwich or eating the whole thing with a knife and fork is just wrong…
I remember the horror of being served a cream tea with whipped cream in Japan, and the confusion of having to tell foreign students at a summer school that you have a cheese scone with butter, not jam!
Following on from the Rebecca’s escalator item:
– Not ignoring absolutely everybody on the tube
– Stopping in front of the ticket barrier to find your Oyster card
– Joining the end of a queue without asking everyone in the vicinity if they’re in it (even when they’re obviously not)
– Daring to pay in exact change without first checking it three times and then saying ‘I think that’s right’… and then waiting while they count
– Going south of the river ; )
On the subject of tubes and trains…
– not offering your seat to a pregnant/disabled/elderly person
– walking through the barrier on someone else’s ticket after yours flashed “seek assistance”
– leaning against the central pole in the tube carriage so no one else can hold onto it
(this one really frustrates me, especially as I’m too short to reach the bars across the top of a carriage)
Wow, enjoying these cathartic threads!
Adding to the tube-based annoyances, my bugbear (alongside those already noted) is how it’s always the rudest, most impatient jostlers of the throng making their way out who first, spend an age looking for their ticket, then simply stop dead in their tracks a pace or two beyond the barriers to check where they are – causing an unseemly bottleneck.
Why so desperate to exit the tube without even a vague idea of where you’re heading afterwards? They can’t all be claustrophobes…
Please tell me this experience isn’t unique to me!
> walking through the barrier on someone else’s ticket
Ha, this exact thing happened to me at Charing Cross station yesterday. I’m not ashamed to admit that I wished a disproportionate amount of misfortune onto the person who did it…
I have many transport related examples…
• Sitting in the aisle seat and then looking really annoyed when someone asks you to get up so they can sit in the window seat. If it’s so much trouble to get up then just sit in the window seat in the first place!
• Eating anything noisy or smelly.
• Using cheap headphones and playing your music loud so everyone can hear it, white iPhone headphones being the worst offenders. (Although this can be amusing if, for example, a really butch guy is listening to Britney Spears).
• Having your keyboard sounds turned on on your phone so everyone can hear you clicking away.
• Banging on the window and shouting at everyone to move down when there is clearly no room.
• Skin on skin contact, I once had a guy that was so eager to have the armrest that he was quite happy to rest his naked, clammy arm on top of mine, needless to say I threw his arm off after the longest 2 seconds of my life.
• Any form of dawdling, dawdling should be a crime punishable by death.
• Leaving your bag on the seat next to you when it’s busy to try and ward off potential sitters. (I may have done this on occasion but I believe it to be bad form).
• Shouting down a phone, being too drunk, swearing and having loud, inane or offensive conversations.
Has anyone got a couch I can lay on?
Oh – this reminds me of one more. Being short I often have to suffer the grim stench of someone’s breakfast or lunch as they breathe down on me in all-too-cosy tube situations. It makes me shudder just thinking about it…