Home > MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!, Random thoughts, writing > Top 5 London Phrases you should learn the meaning of before you arrive

Top 5 London Phrases you should learn the meaning of before you arrive

ABWP has one of her bestest friends EVER coming to visit her, all the way from Chicago to rainy, cold London (only it is neither rainy nor cold at present–the shock!).  She has compiled a list of London translations in preparation for said friend’s arrival.  So.  She thought she would share it with her blogger friends (I think Lua is on her way to the UK soon–yes?).

“You all right?”  — Translation:  I am just being polite.  I do not care whether you are all right or not.  The only acceptable response to this is “yes.”

“Toilet closed for maintenance”  —  Translation:  The government is too lazy to clean this toilet.  This toilet will never be open again, ever.  You are welcome to poop on the pavement in protest.

“Please mind the gap” — Translation:  You better watch where you are bloody walking because if you fall over they’ll stop the whole tube line and I will be late.  Though I am too polite to say anything, I will totally stare daggers at you and you will feel VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.

“Line down due to a person under a train”  —  Translation:  No, this doesn’t mean someone is under the train to fix it.  For all the seeming politeness of London’s speeches, they don’t mind telling everyone that someone is squished and splattered all over the tracks.  Yuk.  Also, this seems to happen disproportionately often at Liverpool Street.  If you are feeling depressed DO NOT GO TO LIVERPOOL STREET STATION life is not that bad I promise everything will seem brighter and better later think of all the lovely G&Ts you can still enjoy.  Plus, you will make me late.

“Innit” —  Translation:  this is neither a word nor a phrase, but rather a bastardization of both.  It once meant “isn’t it” but now translates roughly to “I have no idea what to say but feel I should say something here”

Okay, so I feel this may sound somewhat snarky which is TOTALLY NOT TRUE I LOVE LONDONERS.  I am a convert.  Where else can you go where people will queue up for ONE SIDE of the escalator?

Bonus:  Only because I got one of these as a kid and am still recovering from the trauma–

“Honorable Mention”  — Translation: You are a complete and utter LOSER.  Actually, not only are you a loser, but you’re so STUPID that you WON’T NOTICE YOU ARE A LOSER as long as we give you this NON-AWARD.

  1. May 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Please remind me to tell of my stint in Bangor, Wales. Particularly the first morning after arriving when some hapless uni clerk made the mistake of saying “Y’alright?” to a very jet-lagged and near-dead Bethany. Whoops.

  2. Lua
    May 21, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Oh God- this is going to save my life! 😉
    “Innit” ? Okay, good to know. And “You are welcome to poop on the pavement in protest.” I’m still laughing about this but let’s just say I will not find this very odd- I do live in Istanbul!
    And I probably will jump from a bridge if someone tries to give me the “Honorable Mention” award over there! 🙂

    • May 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      No honorable Mentions for you, not to worry–I suspect these are left-over from my very-small-island days. They do not run rampant in London the way “innit” seems to.

  3. May 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm


  4. May 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Bahaha! So funny! And so helpful, I will be in London next semester. Will be looking for more of these useful posts!

    • May 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      You will LOVE London! Just remember NOT to stand on the left side of the escalator and you will be fine. Londoners will forgive you everything else.

  5. May 30, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Hahaha, great post. I’ve always wanted to go to London and now I’ll be prepared if I ever get there!

  6. June 2, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I hope you make it here! It is lovely. And despite the shortage of open loos, mostly devoid of human feces on the pavements.

  7. June 4, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Dear old London, home of my birth, it’s been a long time since I visited you, but it’s good to see that nothing changes!! 🙂

    • June 4, 2010 at 9:16 am


      Despite all the annoyances, I kinda hope it never does!

      Except for “innit.” I could really do without innit.

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