"You mean, you were actually born here?"
The words that every actual Londoner who is still living and working in this damn town has grown so accustomed to hearing.
It seems shocking to many that somebody didn't actually want to flee their place of birth the minute they obtained a national insurance number.
For 6 years I have worked with people predominantly 'non-London'. I've grown used to requests to "run up the apple and pears to make a Rosie Lee" as well as frequent references to my very cockney accent (for starters I'm from South London - distinct difference. Secondly, we are in London so who's got the accent mate?!)
Whilst explaining to somebody that, whilst the pie & mash cliché is funny for some, it is actually what I'm having for dinner (and I'm not being ironic), it dawned on me that people who are non-Londoners may need a checklist. A checklist of symptoms and "what to looks fors" to help spot if somebody is actually from London.
Here's my first draft;
- The speed in which the person in question walks will differ greatly from that of a non-Londoner. It's known as "GetOutOfMyWayMotherLover" speed and is just shy of a jog. London born females can achieve this speed in a heel of approximately four inches. And when pissed.
- A true Londoner will still think to look in the Evening Standard for a job, and remembers when you had to pay for the paper. And when it was better than it is now.
- They will always make their Oyster card accessible prior to leaving the office/home/gym. The sight of a backed up barrier or 'transport virgins' bambling about in stations will result in something known as "Red Rage".
- This person will never have been to Nobu or similar. They will deem restaurants with a four week waiting list as 'ponsey'. The same applies to Mayfair clubs that require a minimum spend for a table. Londoners will also rarely queue for a bar/club. Only in the event of a close friend's (non-Londoner, obviously) mile stone birthday.
- They will call it the West End. Not 'up London'.
- They will call it the pictures. Not 'grabbing a film'.
- The will call it indoors. Not 'at home'.
- They will have been brought up around blokes who have an argument about who's paying first and who cannot tolerate a stand back. They will have been brought up to instantly judge anyone who is not quick to get up the jump*.
*jump being the bar.
- A Londoner will often use the word 'fuck' as an adjective or a filler in an everyday sentence.
- They will not be fazed by the 'C' word. In some cases they will use it affectionately. A major symptom of true Londoner-itus can be spotted if they answer the phone to their dearest friend by calling them the C word. See 'Hello you ol' C' for reference.
- The person in question will, under no circumstances, be able to achieve a 'Lambeth Walk' and may only know one single verse to 'Knees Up Mother Brown'. They will pronounce it Muvva.
- Only a small majority of these real Londoners are actually related to a Pearly King or Queen. It's not advised to start any conversation with 'So, is your uncle a Pearly King then?'.
- They will call everyone mate. Boss/Bus Driver/Grandparent. They will call you mate even if they don't like you. They will call you mate even in the middle of an argument. See 'Alright mate, let's take this outside' for reference.
- This person will be very adverse to moving to the opposite side of the river from which they were born. Only in extreme cases, falling in love or needing to flee a sticky situation, will cause this to happen. They will be the one person in the cab who will not object when the cab driver says 'don't go South of the River, mate'. They will understand.
- They will have grown up in a pub surrounding. If their dad or uncle didn't own one, someone's best mate did and they would have spent EVERY Sunday there. This will also be the place that their first big tele came from.
- The person in question will not understand why people would choose to live in Bethnal Green or go out for the evening in Dalston. This even applies to people who were born in Bethnal Green and Dalston.
- They will mock when the neighbourhood they grew up in becomes trendy. When the market turns into a 'village', when the pubs start holding artisan fairs and when they open a Waitrose. They will mock, and also thank the sweet baby Jesus as they are now safe in the knowledge that the two-up- two-down they bought in 1975 is now worth a million pounds.
- If the person is a true Londoner they will understand the distinct difference between a night out and a beano.
'Babe, I'm going for a night out with the boys'. 'Cool, see you tomorrow'.
'Babe, I'm going on a beano from the pub'. 'Cool, see you a week Tuesday'.
And last but not least, the one fail safe way of spotting a true, born & bred Londoner.
They will be the only person in your central London office who will point blank refuse to drink Yorkshire Tea.
And there will probably only be one of them.