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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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by Jellimonsta In reply to Birmingham

Investor in WBA (I am from Wolverhampton and WBA re referred to as 'The Sh#t!'). I doubt they will stay top flight. So they will probably be playing the Wolves again next year. If you go to that game watch your back. :)
I will be back in the Midlands in May so I may actually go to Brum for the day. Not too bad for shopping.
Hope you enjoy your time in jolly old England. I am looking forward to seeing my Mom and Dad again, and my folks haven't seem my 2 1/2 yr old daughter for 1 1/2 yrs so I know they are excited.
We are going to London for the weekend though (for my wife really, she is a US citizen and likes London a lot). For some reason she likes the 'street performers' more than anything else in London though. :)

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just that

by jck In reply to Stonehenge

I have friends in Birmingham, Walsall, Manchester, Warrington, Penzance, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Liverpool, etc etc. I'm going nearest to where they are (save Liverpool and Penzance).

Trying to hit major central areas to most of the folks I know. That's all.

Would love to see Bath. Heard it's quite the place.

As for Stonehenge, I want to see it just because it's so ancient. I loved seeing all the 9th-13th century abbeys and keeps (ruins) in Ireland. I love that stuff.

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Driving in the UK?

by Skidoggeruk In reply to Vistors to the UK

Thought of some tips should you be driving in the UK.

Firstly, you will be likely to encounter a roundabout, please wait until you can look an oncoming driver in the eye, then launch your vehicle in front of them, note the honks and flashing of lights in appreciation of your well timed maneuver. Please do not use your indicators, as this lessens the thrill for everybody, please keep everybody guessing!

Oh, when you get to any intersections, please do go ahead when you see the painted X boxes, these are meant specifically for you. Again, please note the honks and flashing to denote other drivers delight in your manners. They may even give you a wave with two fingers, this means they are especially fond of your driving technique.

By now, you may have managed to make it to a motorway, please do not merge with traffic in a smooth manner. Drive as far as possible up the slip road, possibly even on the shoulder to get a couple cars further than you might have done. Please feel free to give the flashing honking driver behind a two fingered wave.

If you are lucky enough to be on a two lane motorway, please speed merrily along when you spot a crane, digger or other slow moving vehicle in the same lane, ignore the line that has formed next you. Drive right up to the back of slow vehicle, then cut into the other lane as soon as possible. Return the up and down wave of an "O" shaped hand with the now familiar two fingered wave.

If you are on a three laned motorway, ALWAYS stay in the MIDDLE lane, or even better, the fast lane, do not exceed 60 MPH in the fast lane, reducing this to 50 MPH in the middle lane. Flashing headlights mean please stay in this lane. Enjoy the gestures you will be greeted with.

While on your journey, you might notice some small boxes with reflective surfaces, speed up whenever possible when you see these, they will take a happy snap of your trip!! Oh, if you should happen to see any police vans or plain white vans on overpasses, with either the side panel door open or dark glass windows, WAVE!! They are taking video footage of your travels.

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