So, you’re looking to make friends in London, are you? Well, in most cities, you would simply go out and start talking to people. Get to know your neighbors or talk to the local grocer. That’s all find and good on paper but it can be so much harder than that in reality. Hitting things off with strangers can be a bit daunting. At least for adults.
Now kids. Well, they are their own little animals all unto themselves. They have no qualms about becoming best of friends for two hours at the park and then never see each other again. All it takes is a common understanding of the Marvel Universe or Star Wars Universe and their gold. I truly envy them for that. Because if I tried to talk about how Thor lost his eye or what makes Black Widow and the Hulk tick, I’d likely be locked up in the looney bin.
These lines of communication between adults can grow even more complicated by the simple fact that in London so many cultures are intermingling. While there are many people who are truly making the effort to be nice and to connect with another, in London, what you say matters almost as much as how you say it.
List of No-Nos
So, before we can discuss honing your skills at communicating, we’ll need to discuss something of vital importance. Let’s go over the the absolutely-under-no-circumstances-should-you-ever-talk-about-these-topics topics so you don’t put your best foot forward and end up tasting shoe leather by inserting your foot into your mouth.
Why is this important?
Because in London no one will tell you what you did wrong during the course of a conversation. A Londoner will simply find a way to excuse themselves from the conversation and you’ll be left wondering why.
While everything has its place and every place has a thing, it’s important to realize that offensive, sexist, insensitive, and racist commentary should be avoided at all costs. While the joke might seem a bit of harmless fun, in a city as diverse and multi-cultural London those jokes are a very big deal.
Another thing to be careful of during conversation with a Londoner is facts. Let’s face it, Londoners are all at their heart trifling snobs. It means we judge everything harshly. And while we might not voice, we definitely will remember. So, when we are conversing, Londoners always take a pointed interest in one’s schooling. This is not to say IQ. That is something else entirely. We are talking about facts. In other words, if you mention Richard the Lionheart and want to rattle off a fact or two make sure you get it right. If you blurted out that he died at 21 choking on a chicken bone in mixed company you’d better believe the conversations would end. (He actually died at 41 from gangrene which set in from a wound he received in his shoulder from a crossbow bolt)
Please avoid talking about WWII. There are still scars throughout this wonderful country from it, and it’s best to be avoided at all costs. We know that the Third Reich touched many countries the world over and we are not alone in that but we simply do not like to talk about it. The events are simply too horrific and too close to home for Londoners to talk about it openly.
The last topic is one I’m sure you’ve all done. For some reason, Americans are fascinated with the British accent. There are countless hosts of TV shows in American with British accents but please make no mistake about it. When you are in London, it is you with the funny accent so please do not correct pronunciation.
Conversation as an Art
When speaking to a Londoner, there are a few things to remain aware of. One is the time and two is the number of pints consumed. If you lose track of either you might lose a day or two and not realize it. In conversation, it is important to realize that Londoners don’t always say what they mean and if one tells you that they have nothing to complain about, I’d head the other way as quickly as possible. In London there is always something to complain about.
Words that come up such as ‘nice’, ‘good’, or ‘fine’ never reflect their true meaning. In most cases, they mean the polar opposite but are simply too polite to come clean about it. Now if you hear a Londoner use ‘marvelous’, ‘delightful’, or ‘jolly good’ in describing something now that is telling you that whatever the topic or whatever the statement that person is ok. Anything less than those words to describe something is simply abysmal.
Another thing that throws the delivery is the use of sarcasm. It’s a trademark we take great pride in. Londoners are able to say the stupidest things on the planet with an absolute straight face and capable of pulling off the most sarcastic pun without batting an eye. In other words, take everything a Londoner says with a grain of salt.
Now that we have the conversation part denoted properly, where might you go to converse and meet new friends in London?
That can be somewhat tricky in London. When starting up a conversation with a complete stranger, I’d highly recommend one of three topics. Either the weather, because Londoners complain about it incessantly, transport running late, because inevitably it does every day, or football. While the best strategy would be to do this while having a few pints, most of us are broaching topics of conversation with coworkers, schoolmates, or neighbors whom we already know.
For those who are a bit frustrated with the traditional ways of meeting people there is this glorious resource known as the Internet. Go online and checkout a few websites or apps and find people with similar interests. What can it hurt? That’s what I thought. So, check them out.