[Image description: An iPod with the screen “Bermondsey Street” by Patrick Wolf is playing, against the backdrop of “Bermondsey Street” sign at a London Tube stop]
See what I did there? Bermondsey Street at Bermondsey.
A while ago, I couchsurfed for a week in London at an American friend’s flat (this post was scheduled for publishing, but somehow didn’t). It happened that a couple of my friends from university as well as childhood friends from India were in or around London (Brighton). So, I met them every night I was there. One friend, who switched form Political Science to Acting, took me to the Arcola Theatre for a Ghost From A Perfect Place (intense!). Another took me to a pub after work. And my host took me to an English breakfast (incl. the infamous ‘black pudding’ and too-crisp bacon) and to the Borough Market.
To me the Netherlands and England are not unfamiliar places. Yes, unfamiliar in the sense I don’t know them because I haven’t lived there, but yes familiar because I am familiar with the people (NL) and with the langauge (UK/NL). I was also hosted by a great girl who is pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience, so I always felt like I was at home.
The first big difference I noticed is that there are people on the Tube handing out The Evening Standard at all major stations, and people begging on the Thameslink and on the streets. I don’t think I’ve come across more than one person handing out flyers or other paper items or seen people commit active begging in Amsterdam. Immediately after this observation, I realised how often the English used ‘sorry’ for all situations. Sorry for bumping into you on the Tube, sorry for walking past you on the street, sorry when wanting to move around, past, or next to you (In Holland they say thank you much more, and in Korea people mutually agree not to say anything).
They can also mean the following array of things:
- Get the fuck out of my way, you tourist.
- I’m late, don’t you fucking know the left side of the escalator is reserved for people who are walking and need to get places, unlike you lazy arse?
- I do acknowledge the fact that I bumped into you, but this is the London Tube. You should expect to get bumped into and move out of people’s way.
The general feel was that the English would make great friends with the Swedish and Japanese – it is my personal observation that the English are more polite than friendly.
Another big difference from the Netherlands and (now) France is that the colours are depressing. Buildings use yellow, a sort of brownish orange, and brown brick excessively in residential areas, giving them a sad feel.
Catching up with my friends mainly consisted of moping over how poor we all are in London, with the outrageous rent prices and overpriced/bland food, and a general hatred towards the British Pound. Man, you’d have to be rich to live there.
But the city was photogenic!
I’m sure she’s Korean (the selfie stick is a hit item at the moment)
They waved at me a second after
Londoners take jokes very seriously. Must be done.
Tower Bridge (London Bridge is actually just a regular bridge)
More photos at my new Tumblr: