Not everything can be retold or explained. There are things in this world you’ll have to live through in order to understand them completely.
I can say that we love brunch in London all I want and you’ll get what I am saying but you will never feel our love for breakfast food in the middle of an afternoon unless you’ve lived here for as long as we have.
That noted I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try. Getting aware of the culture of the people from the city you are moving to is one of the most essential elements of every relocation process. And I will do my best to guide you through it as painlessly as possible, starting with a few tips, stories and anecdotes they don’t teach you in books about London.
Hold on to your trolleys
I’ll kick things off with something easy, a piece of our culture you don’t have to fully understand. Truth be told, we don’t quite get it either but for some reason, the shopping trolleys (or shopping carts as you say in the US) have a mind of their own here, in Britain.
You’ll never be able to drive one in a straight line even if your life depended on it. Don’t believe me? Just go to Tesco and try driving the trolley. You’ll push forward and it will go left. You’ll go right and it will still go left. The only time the darn thing doesn’t go left is when you need it to.
Why? Because it seems like we don’t get a simple fact here in Britain. We seem to be unaware that a set of two steering wheels is enough and four is overkill.
It is either that or we have the world’s biggest conspiracy of chiropractors in the world because where else would they get that big of a line filled with people whose backs ache like hell?
The art of tea
Everyone knows that we do love our tea here, in Britain. Few know how we love it. And you know what? That’s not even that big of a deal for those of you who have stayed in London for a while.
But the newly arrived will have to deal with movers, TV guys, repairmen, agents of all sorts, etc. all of who, are to be offered a cuppa. The better their tea is, the better they’ll do their job… Or so people say.
Given the importance of this matter, I’d suggest you grab a hold of your notebooks to write down the recipe for English tea.
Start with the kettle. God forbid you to use the microwave to boil the water. Turn the bad boy on and stop for a minute to admire how the water boils. A fascinating sight, is it not?
Then proceed to the mug. A new mug can work for your purposes, but there’s nothing like the taste of tea from an old, cracked one. Do note that the cup has to be warm before you put the teabag and pour in the water. Then after all is said and done, wait for a minute. The tea needs time to mature. It needs to grow its own flavor. Once it does kill it – no, not with fire – with all of your supply of milk and sugar.
Or you could just ask the person you are making the tea for about his or her preferences. That works too. Sometimes.
There. You are now all set and done. Enjoy your cuppa.
Get used to saying “sorry” a lot. This may seem like a tat weird to many of you but don’t worry too much about it. You don’t actually have to be sorry to say it.
If you invite a friend for a pint ta the Pub and it’s too hot in there, you’ll just have to say sorry. Not that it is your fault nor is it that you can (or will even try) to fix it. Just say the magic words.
If someone bangs into you on the street – you know what to do. Be nice, we are not in New York.
If you need to grab something out of your bag and you can’t seem to find it, say sorry. You’ll sound more British that way.
You get the point, don’t you?
The cult of the Sun
The British are obsessed with weather. But you already knew that. What you didn’t know is that our Lord and savior is the sun. Worshiping it is a national tradition. Maybe it is because we get so little warm days here but when we do, boy of boy, the unprepared are to flee at first chance.
You know those first early sunny days of the spring when the sun is so pleasant and cheerful yet the weather is still rather cold?
You will see your friends and coworkers in flip-flops reaching into their pocket for an entire grill as if they were some kind of Looney Tunes characters at the first signs of the delightful ultraviolet.
Great Britain is a proud nation filled with bizarre quirks and traditions that can be traced to the beginning of time, yet no one cares enough to actually do the research. We follow the rules just because they are, well, the rules and breaking them is bad manners.
Sure this takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you do, you will be delighted with the company of some of the world’s merriest men and women that are very clever at hiding their inner selves. Yes, we are a puzzle you are to solve, but the rewards are ever so delicious.
Cheers and good luck to you!