Dos and Don'ts

Britons are still class conscious, although foreigners can generally float freely between social classes. The notion of keeping a "stiff upper lip" may have been coined by the British, but London's ever more cosmopolitan population has tempered traditional reserve.

Londoners are quick to offer directions to visitors, so don't be afraid to ask.
At the pub, it is considered polite to buy a round for everyone in your party; this will be reciprocated one hopes before the bell for "last orders" rings.
Tipping for drinks at a bar is not necessary, but at restaurants tip generously in cash, usually 10 to 15 percent of the check.

Londoners are happy to discuss ad infinitum the weather, which is a guaranteed icebreaker. However, one place where Londoners remain resolutely buttoned up is on public transport. For some, even making eye contact is a no-no on the Underground. Brits are not big on physical contact either, so avoid touching people. Wait for people to get off tube trains before getting on, and always stand on the right on escalators.

Litter, loud music, and the consumption of alcohol and junk food on public transport are bad local habits visitors should not emulate.

Don't be late for an appointment. It's considered rude.

Dress appropriately to your surroundings; don't wander round the lobby of The Savoy in shorts and flip-flops.

Humility, understatement, and self-deprecation are traditional British traits. Apologize profusely, play down your achievements, and make fun of your failings if you want to make friends.

Sarcastic humor is a form of affection, so don't take offense if somebody starts teasing you—and feel free to give as good as you get.

Although most Brits will bristle if you are overly familiar, don't be surprised if someone you barely know calls you love, dear, ducky, or darling. These are commonly used terms, not necessarily of endearment.

Phrase Book

Londoners speak English, of course, and they do so with a precision that many foreigners find delightful. But they also imbue their speech with many colorful colloquialisms that will confound those who learned their English elsewhere. Here are some examples,

Ayrton Senna: Tenner (ten-pound note)

Battle Cruiser: Boozer (pub)

Bacardi Breezer: Geezer

Britney Spears: Beers

Butcher's hook: Look

Cream crackered: Knackered (exhausted)

Custard and jelly: Telly (TV)

Kate Moss-ed: Lost

One Time Looker: Hooker

Oxo Cube: Tube (underground railway)

Pen and ink: Stink

Pope in Rome: Home

Porky pies: Lies

Ruby Murray: Curry (named after popular 1950s crooner)

Trouble and strife: Wife

Westminster Abbey: Shabby

Wooden plank: Yank


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