1. You smugly correct new arrivals’ pronunciation of London place names.
You’ve kind of forgotten that your ‘Leicester’ initially sounded a bit like ‘Laï’s sister’ and your ‘Borough’ used to be your ‘Boro’. You get irritated when people make the same mistakes – even if they’re fresh out of Kyrgyzstan and have no way of guessing. Puh-lease, are you kidding me? It’s Lester Square and Burra Market Jeez. Peasants.
2. You’ve visited a bus depot.
You’ve fallen asleep on a night bus and woken up stranded in Hammersmith or Ash Grove, fearing you would be trapped there in a drunken half-coma for the rest of your life (unless you were attacked by zombies beforehand).
But really, nothing happened and you had your A-to-Z, so you just found your way home.
3. You’ve also visited an area beyond zone 2.
You shudder at the thought of it, but you seem to remember making it all the way to Croydon, High Barnet, Brent Cross, or Tooting Broadway once. It was probably under extreme duress but on the plus side, you can now entertain puzzled crowds with tales of what life is like in those parts of the world.
4. You’ve picked your side of the Thames.
You could not stay neutral forever: you are either a North or a South Londoner. Now your allegiance is declared, you only begrudgingly cross the river and venture into the ‘other London’ on an occasional bout of tourism (your visiting great-aunt so insisted on seeing St Paul’s Cathedral or the South Bank), or to catch friends who moved to the wrong side (and should be glad you haven’t cut them out of your life entirely).
5. For you, the ‘Prince Charles’ doesn’t refer to the Royal, but to London’s coolest cinema.
So when you’re ‘going to the Prince Charles’, you don’t have a highly suspicious rendez-vous at Buckingham Palace, you’re just going to watch a film. Which, let’s be honest, is probably a sing-a-long-a.
6. You expect all museums to be free.
You’re so used to waltzing into the British Museum unimpeached that the concept of paying for a museum has become absurd. In fact, even though you don’t take advantage of it nearly often enough, so enamoured are you with London’s museum policy that you’ve come to believe free cultural access should be a basic human right. What, you have to pay to see the Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s frescoes? Humph. I’ll just Google them.
7. You once got a table at Gordon’s Wine Bar.
It must have been on your 18th attempt at a sophisticated date there, and for once it didn’t devolve into a ‘cuppa’ at the nearest Starbucks. Your date was extremely impressed not only by your choice of venue, but also by your ability to secure a table. You did not tell him/her that you had camped outside the night before and had been warming your chair since opening.
8. You’re pretty much immune to weirdness.
The Jesus is Alive guy in Camden, barefoot Hare Krishnas serenading Oxford Street shoppers, the Scientology shop on Tottenham Court Road, people throwing up on the street at pub closing time, freaky acts in Covent Garden or South Bank, girls wearing next to nothing in the thick of winter, night bus mayhem… Blah, nothing phases you. You’ve seen it all.
9. You don’t even try to make it to work on a snowy day.
You learnt your lesson the hard way your first few winters in London, when you found that none of the other 197 employees had bothered to show up to work: at the first sign of a snowflake, you’re on holiday. There’s a London convention that snow = apocalypse, and you finally got the memo. Don’t worry, your boss is well aware that ‘nothing is running’ and that stepping out of your house in these extreme conditions could be life-threatening. So just jump on the tube and get thee to the pub!
10. You hit the park at the first ray of sunshine.
Blimey, look at this heatwave spreading over the city! You are not sure how your body will react to temperatures above 20°C, but it is worth taking a risk. You gather your friends and head to Hampstead Heath or Primrose Hill for an al fresco picnic of Pimm’s and strawberries. You have such a lovely time in this gorgeous weather…and just like that, all your “that’s it, this is my LAST winter in this god-forsaken place” outbursts of the past 5 months are erased.
11. You could never live alone again…
You hear that in other cities, students and young professionals have their own studio flat. Dear lord, how terribly depressing! You’ve come to enjoy the communal life, and you would miss Stu shedding his hair in the shower, Ruth leaving passive-aggressive notes on the fridge, and Mario regularly cooking three-piatti meals at 2am.
In short, you’re sold on housesharing, and you will NEVER GIVE IT UP. Not even when you’re married. Not even when you have children. And this is a good thing, because you may never be able to afford to.
12. …OR you’ve succumbed to the ‘British dream.’
You don’t know what’s wrong with you, but recently, you’ve caught yourself having pastoral visions. Visions of a life without traffic noise, without traffic jams – well, without traffic. You’ve started to suspect that London may not be a city to live in forever, and you’re buying into the idea of moving to ‘the country’. You’ve even convinced yourself that your children would be so much happier growing up in a cottage in an isolated hamlet…
Don’t be silly: past the age of 8, your children will hate you for removing them from civilisation. This is just London burnout. Take a holiday in the Cotswolds and you’ll soon be cured.
13. You understand cockney rhyming slang.
Nah, just kidding! That’s not likely to happen in a million years!