General discussion


Vistors to the UK

By neilb@uk ·
A number of people on the various threads have expressed a desire to visit the UK. I've posted a few tips to enable you to "blend-in". I live in London - which occupies about 60% of Englands non-mountainous land - so most of what I've written applies to the capital.


If you do get out of London then the University Towns are worth a visit. A delightful way of spending an afternoon in Oxford or Cambridge is gliding down the river in a flat-bottomed boat called a Yerinal. This practice is known as cottaging. The poles used to move the yerinals must be treated with vegetable oil to protect them from the water, so it's a good idea to buy a can of Crisco and have it on you when you ask directions to the yerinals. That way people will know you are an experienced cottager. Some places rent such craft by the hour, so if you'd like a go simply tell a policeman you'd like
to know where the public Yerinals are because you'd like to do some cottaging. He may even offer to accompany you to the (boat) station.

Dining in Great Britain is as convenient as in America, perhaps more so! When the bill comes it will show a suggested amount. Pay what you think is fair, unless you plan to dine there again in which case you should tell the waiter "I am doing a runner", and simply walk out. He will understand that he should "run" a tab for you from now on.

Vocabulary: If you want to sound cool then Money is referred to as "goolies" in slang, so you should for instance say "I'd love to come to the pub but I haven't got any goolies." "Quid" is the modern word for what was once called a "shilling" - the equivalent of about 15cents US. Underpants are called "wellies" and friends are called "tossers." If you are fond of someone British, you should tell him he is a "big tosser" - he will be touched. Buses are called "prams" in England, and trains are called "bumbershoots" - it's a little confusing at first. Motorcycles are called "lorries" and the hospital, for reasons unknown, is called the "off-license." It's also very important to know that a "doctor" only means a PhD in England, not a physician. If you want a physician, you must ask for an "MP" (which stands for "master physician").

We English are a demonstrative, tactile people but reticent about "normal" sex. So, if you want to fit in you should hold hands with your acquaintances and tossers when you walk down the street. Public nuzzling and licking are also encouraged, but only between people of the same sex.

Taxis are subsidized by the Government. A taxi ride in London costs two pounds, no matter how far you travel. If a taxi driver tries to overcharge you, you should yell the traditional "I think not, you charlatan!", then grab the nearest bobby and have the driver arrested. All taxis are black, to distinguish them from prams - which are all red. Taxi drivers (or "cabbies") are recruited from British universities and colleges, and normally have degrees in Politics, Theology or Social Sciences. Taxi driving is a lonely job, and cabbies will enjoy answering any of your questions on issues such as immigration, Trades Unions and taxation. One of the requirements of taxi companies is that 90% of their drivers be homosexual. If you are the same way inclined, an offer of sex in lieu of the fare will be welcomed with open arms.

It is rarely necessary to take a taxi, though, since pram drivers are required to make detours at patrons' requests. Just board any pram, pay your fare of thruppence (the heavy gold-colored coins are "pence"), and state your destination clearly to the driver, e.g.: "Please take me to the British Library." A driver will frequently try to have a bit of harmless fun by pretending he doesn't go to your requested destination. Ignore him, as he is only teasing the American tourist (little does he know you're not so ignorant!). Most pram drivers are specially recruited from India. These dusky chaps are very diligent, and are proud of their traditional calling. On entry to Britain, new drivers are christened "Pakkee" (the Hindu word for "doughty driver"); help them to feel at home by using their name as much as possible in conversation.

The London Tube is the most economical way to get about. If you are a woman, chivalry is alive and well in Britain, and ladies still travel for free on the Tube. Simply take some tokens from the containers at the base of the escalators or on the platforms; you will find one near any of the state-sponsored Tube musicians. Once on the platform, though, beware! Approaching bumbershoots sometimes disurb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling whilst shouting loudly to ward of the Gappes. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes, though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation. If you have difficulty locating the Tube station, merely follow the signs that say "Subway" and ask one of the full-time attendants where you can catch the bumbershoot. As it is a very popular attraction, those of you who dislike crowds should take the tube at "off-peak" times, that is, 8-9am and 5-6pm. Every bumbershoot car has maps on the wall. Check that the curves in the track correspond to the map; this is the only way to be sure that you've boarded the right car.

Our automobiles are very small, and have a maximum engine capacity of 500cc. In the cities, young men like to go "joyriding" in their (or someone else's) cars. Joyriding is a popular pursuit in some of the poorer areas of urban Britain, and provides a quick and inexpensive way of seeing the local attractions. Ask any young chap to take you joyriding - it's an experience you'll never forget!

Horse-back riding is a little-known, traditional and fun way to travel. Horses are provided at football matches for travel anywhere in Britain for free. Simply turn up before 3pm or after 4:30pm on a Saturday, find a horse that isn't taken, and jump up behind the traditional British bobby. He will be delighted to take you to your destination - be sure to hang on tight!

The pub is one of the most important meeting-places in England. These are, of course, renowned the world over as places to get to know the local people. To ensure a pleasant evening's drinking, follow these tips:

The best pubs are those in the inner cities, around some of the least salubrious housing. The people here cannot afford to go out, so pubs in these districts are full of upper-crust Englishmen who travel here in their Bentley cars to get away from the hustle and bustle of country pubs. These "toffs" often put on a coarse accent after a glass or two of beer; do not be intimidated, they are resting their throats after talking "posh" all day. They will be glad to play Eton college word-games: "Get Up, That's My Seat", "You look a puff-to-me!" and "Is-she-for sale?" Call out one of these games to any large chap, and have fun.

Order your drinks carefully. Bartenders are notoriously dishonest (indeed, they are proud of this tradition, and enjoy having their "leg pulled"). If you order a spirit drink, they will pour a little into your glass; insist on it being topped up to the brim. When tasting your first sip of beer, exclaim that there must be water in it. They will admire you for your candour, and will offer to buy you a drink "on the house". Pubs that sell "real ale" are attempting to emulate Budweiser beer; let the landlord know where he is going wrong. He will be very grateful for advice from an American.

"Darts" is a common pub game. Your opponent will throw darts at the circular board - your object is to pull them out faster than he can throw them. If you see a game in progress, reserve your place by rubbing out all the numbers on the blackboard.

It is common to find pool tables in pubs. Beware, they are not playing to American rules! To join a game of pool already in progress, simply pick up one of the cues provided, walk to the table, and quickly cue the black ball into the nearest pocket. You are now in the game. The object is to pot all your balls as quickly as possible without disturbing the white. Don't be disheartened if you miss a shot; quickly move on to the next. You score extra points for "blocking" your opponent's attempts to shoot, using your hands.

Remember that free snacks, such as crisps and peanuts, are kept behind the bar to retain freshness. For goodness' sake, don't let them "rip you off" by demanding money!

At about 11 o'clock, it is traditional for the barpeople to call the game of "time", leave their posts and wander around the pub, shouting at people. Do not be alarmed - they may sound like they want you to leave, but in fact the reverse is the case. English pubs close after dawn, and the staff are shouting to stimulate drinkers to continue spending their money. The object of this game is to remain where you are! To ensure you don't get thirsty during this period, buy a few rounds just before 11 o'clock (it's a slow time for the staff, so use this opportunity to chat). Drink slowly. You'll have ample opportunity to catch up when the barman returns to his post.

When you do leave the pub, you are likely to find a small crowd of happy revellers outside, singing traditional songs as they await their chauffeurs. This is known as "chucking-out time" The ladies in these crowds are sad and lonely; why not ask the male chaperones if their lady friends would like to come back to your hotel? Offer to make them very happy. The men will probably ask you to discuss the pedigree of their charges in the privacy of the pub car park.

After the pub, it is traditional to enjoy an Indian meal. There are many Indian restaurants in Britain. Although the staff may be from the Indian sub-continent, they serve subtle, delicate "British Raj" fare. Ask for the Vindaloo or - if you don't like spicy food - the Phal. Better still, ask the waiter to instruct the chef to make the "special" phal as this is particularly subtle. Go at about 11:30pm and you will be surrounded by jolly young ladies and gentlemen in high spirits. Feel free to indulge in banter with them - call them tossers, of course - and to tell the chaps about your boxing training at High School. Suggest a contest - they will politely decline, and offer to pay for your meal.

To answer some final questions:

We call ourselves English when somebody English wins something, and we call ourselves British when somebody Scottish, Welsh or Irish wins something.

We invented the language, we can spell it how we want and we like u's in our words - the spelling was dumbed down in the US supposedly to make it easier to teach English to American Indians - though I suspect that's an excuse.

We drive on the left because we like driving holidays abroad with added danger. Because we drive on the right side of the road i.e. the left, you might think that we would walk on the oposite side of a hall, pathway or escalator to our distinguished visitors. However, on escalators, most clueless Americans park their fat asses any place they feel like it, blocking the way for people who want to climb the stairs. Get out of the bloody way, you fools.

As for the royal family - well you'll find most English regard them as a bad joke that should be abolished to the distant depths of history. If you Americans envy us for having royalty, you can have them, - shame they weren?t all guillotined when we had the chance.

Enjoy your stay.


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I wanna try some

by jck In reply to Sorry

ITgirli tactics:



I've made it to Seattle once in 36 years. Don't know when I'll get out that way again. If I do, I'll definitely tell you can come have brews, or leave town if you hate me by then.

I know ITgirli would hunt me down. I'm swill.

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Well if you get to Seattle

by Oz_Media In reply to Sorry

Get ahold of me, I'll come down.

The ferry from Victoria to the US is pretty cool or the drive from Vancouver to Seattle is only 2 1/2 hrs. and chances are I''ll be near Van or Victoria, that's where the busy people are.

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by Oz_Media In reply to A recommended pram route

But the conductor (commonly referred to as the 'toffee-nosed git') gets angry when you keep telling everyone to look to the left then the right. While speaking in an overly pompus fake British accent.

Then again, I suppose you just thank the tofee-nosed git and enjoy the sights as you wind your way back while conducting the walking portion of the tour.

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Sadly no longer the case

by neilb@uk In reply to YEah

The "traditional" London Bus, the Routemaster, no longer runs on the no. 11 so no conductor any more. You can't get on or off at traffic lights or traffic jams any more - you have to wait for the doors to open like in any other city.

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by Oz_Media In reply to Sadly no longer the case

See that's why I stick to smaller towns. While I have spent heaps O time in London when touring, the only time I am have been around THAT way over the last 5 years were quick stops in St.Albans to meet up with band members before going to the promo's in Cologne, or festivals in Wacken.

I have thought about moving back to work but not around London, and then I look out the window and I just can't bring myself to do it.

Plus it's an arm and a leg to fly one way, it's cheaper return.

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Not hitting London

by jck In reply to A recommended pram route

I might go there later, but it's too much to get around in and too expensive for my travel budget.

I will fly into Southampton, go to Portsmouth where one of my friends live and visit he, his wife, and their new adorable baby girl. After that, it's not really planned as of yet because I have about 12 friends in England and all of them want to see me in the few days I'm there...and I could never make it to see them all considering I'll be using public transportation. Right now, the other areas I'm likely to visit are:


Then, I'll be off to Scotland for a few days to visit with 6 friends of mine there. And then, I'll be hopping back to Dublin to wait for the flight home.

I'm not going to get to see everything I'd like, considering I've always wanted to see Stonehenge and I've been into Shakespeare since I was young and would like to see Stratford-on-Avon. But, I don't have 5 weeks to take a holiday so I am just going to make this trip about seeing lots of friends, drinking pints with as many people as I can meet, and enjoying the atmosphere.

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by Jellimonsta In reply to Not hitting London

I thought Stonehenge was a let down personally. Is there any particular reason you want to visit the innner city slums like Brum and Manchester? If I were you I would stay down south and try to see more of the coastal regions and historic citys/ towns like Bath. There really is more to see in London that any other city in England (IMO).

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by Fonken Monken UK In reply to Stonehenge

Must have been a while ago- lots of those places, despite bad cases of urban sprawl, have undergone major regeneration, especially B'ham which is now a right old mix and match of styles.

But I'd avoid them anyway and go for the greenbelts surrounding them, and if you're heading in the direction of B'ham, sack it off, and go to either Warwick, Kenilworth (olde worlde ona smaller scale) or Sratford.

Coventry was only really worth seeing prior to WWII.

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by Jellimonsta In reply to Slums?

Actually I always liked the 'bombed out' shell of the old cathedral in Coventry. I actually haven't been back to Birmingham for about 7 years so I imagine it has changed. But if I were going to England to sight see, I would not go to the Midlands. As it stands, I am going back in 3 weeks to Wolves to visit the folks again, so I don't have much choice :)
Warwick castle would be cooler if they didn't have the wax crap in there (IMO). It is still a pretty good day visit though.

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by jck In reply to Slums?

I'm going there because I have two friends near there...just going to the area, not the city itself.

One friend is an investor in WBA, so he's hoping they stay top flight so he can take me to a home fixture if I'm there that day.

Also have a friend who's been a season ticket holder at Newcastle. Going to hope I get to see Shearer play next year. Quality footballer.

Plus, I am about decided I'll spend an extra day in Newcastle, if need be, to experience "Hen Holiday". My friend says there are more good looking women there on a weekend than in London. I have to see this for myself.

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