177. What Londoners Say vs What They Mean

Here are some cliches that you might hear Londoners say, and some explanations of what they really mean.

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This podcast is based on an article from the trendy/hipster website “Buzzfeed”. It’s about some common things that Londoners say, and what they really mean. It’ll not only teach you some vocabulary, but will allow you to get under the skin of London and find out some real inside knowledge of what it’s like to live there for real.

I’ll go through the list and explain everything for you.

Article originally published on BuzzFeed here.
Photo illustration by Matt Tucker, Dan Kitwood / Getty/paulprescott72/Thinkstock

***Please be aware – there is some rude language and swearing in this episode***

1. “London prices” — Rip-off prices.
2. “Sorry” — I’m not sorry.
3. “Sorry” — You have just trodden on my foot, and I loathe you with every fibre of my being.
4. “Excuse me” — You have paused momentarily at the ticket barrier and I am boiling with rage.
5. “My fault entirely” — Your fault entirely.
6. “I’m fine, thanks” — I am barely managing to conceal a churning maelstrom of emotions.
7. “How are you?” — Fine. Just say fine.
8. “See you Saturday!” — Don’t forget to email me twice to make sure that we’re actually meeting on Saturday.
9. “Let’s have lunch” — Let’s walk to Pret and back as fast as we can.
10. “I’m having a party in Wimbledon, come along” — Please travel for four and a half hours as I live in the middle of bloody nowhere.
11. “Open for business” — Oligarchs welcome.
12. “Centre of global finance” — Money launderers’ paradise.
13. “My commute? It’s not too bad. About average” — It involves three modes of transport, takes hours each day, and is slowly crushing my spirit.
14. “Could you move down a bit please?” — I’m not asking, I’m telling.
15. “Could you move down a bit please?” — I am seconds away from a devastating mental collapse.
16. “Could you move down a bit please?” — If you don’t, I will start killing indiscriminately.
17. “Due to adverse weather conditions” — It was a bit windy earlier.
18. “Due to the wet weather conditions” — A tiny amount of rain has fallen.
19. “Please take care when…” — Don’t you dare blame us if…
20. “We apologise for the inconvenience caused” — Via the medium of this dehumanised pre-recorded message.
21. “Due to a signalling failure…” — Due to an excuse we just made up…
22. “Rail replacement bus service” — Slow, agonising descent into madness.
23. “There is a good service on all London Underground lines” — Though this very much depends how you define “good”.
24. “Planned engineering works” — That’s your weekend plans fucked, then.
25. “Would Inspector Sands please report to the operations room immediately” — Ohgodohgod everybody panic, we’re all about to die.
26. “Annual fare increase” — We’re rinsing you suckers for even more money. Again.
27. “House party in Tooting? See you there!” — South of the river? No fucking chance.
28. “I live in Zone One” — I am unimaginably wealthy.
29. “The area is really up and coming” — Only one tramp shouts at me in the morning.
30. “Vibrant” — Actual poor people live here.
31. “Gentrification” — I am so glad they’re rid of the poor people.
32. “Gentrified” — Oh bollocks now I can’t afford to live here either.
33. “Efficient use of space” — Microscopic.
34. “Studio flat” — Bedsit.
35. “Incredible potential” — Absolute shithole.
36. “Affordable” — Uninhabitable.
37. “Deceptively spacious” — Basically a cupboard.
38. “Good transport links” — There’s a bus stop 10 minutes’ walk away.
39. “Authentic” — Fake.
40. “I just bought a flat” — My parents just helped me buy a flat.
41. “Swift half” — Many, many, many, many halves.
42. “Quick pint” — In the pub until closing time.
43. “We’re going on a date” — We’re getting pissed together.
44. “Picnic” — Daytime piss-up.
45. “Barbecue” — Piss-up in the garden.
46. “South London” — Here be monsters.
47. “West London” — Here be posh people.
48. “East London” — Here be young people.
49. “North London” — Here be newspaper columnists.
50. “Oxford Circus” — Roiling hellscape.
51. “Tech city” — Bunch of start-ups you’ve never heard of.
52. “London has some of the best restaurants in the world” — So how come I always end up at Nandos?
53. “London is full of cultural delights” — Which I never visit.
54. “Gourmet coffee” — Ludicrously overpriced coffee.
55. “Exciting pop-up restaurant” — You guys like queuing, right?
56. “We have a no bookings policy” — We hate our customers.
57. “This pub has character” — This is not a gastropub, and I’m scared.
58. “Traditional boozer” — Pub that does not serve wasabi peas.
59. “What do you do?” — How much do you earn?
60. “He works in finance” — He’s a psycho.
61. “He works in media” — He’a a wanker.
62. “He works in PR” — He’s a bullshitter.
63. “He works in tech” — He’s got a blog.
64. “Working hours” — Waking hours.
65. “Greatest city on earth” — Apart from New York.
66. “You know what they say: He who is tired of London…” — I am so tired of London.

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  • Anna

    Thanks for this episode. It helps me to understand Brits more :) Sometimes you incidentally know what they really mean, but you re not sure ;) Also, I was able to understand Notting Hill movie after coming to UK better :) Hugh Grant is kind of person who acts real Londoner. Says something else that he really think. Did you noticed that? Thanks Anna

  • Roman T.

    Hi, Luke!
    I started to listen your podcast about a week ago, it is excellent! Thank you for episodes about World Cup and Pubs Culture!
    You have a sharp sense of humor therefore listen to your podcast is not boring! :)

  • phil

    Hello everyone, I m french and I don’t agree with Marie-Odile about the problem of personal space in public transport. And there is a problem. I appreciate that other people respect my personal space in public area. Actually in France there Is a lack of politeness. Honestly foreigners are right we are arrogant and discourteous. That is especially true in big cities. Be lucky in England to keep the traditional politeness.

    And dear Marie-Odile I m not so proud with “liberte egalite fraternite” which are only beautiful words in the mouth of french politicians…Liberte to be ripped off with more taxes everyday ? Egalite to steal money like political leaders do ? Fraternite to let everyone eat at Le Fouquet’s?

    I hope my English isn t too bad. I’m trying to improve it day by day with online courses and obviously with your fantastic blog Luke. English is important for me because I d like to live in London. I don’t like my country anymore. English people in Paris and French people in London : that s amazing isn’t it ? Is the grass greener on the other side ? I’ m sure it is ;)

    Keep doing the good job Luke that’s wickid man booyakasha !
    God save the beer !

  • Hi, Luke,
    Suppose I’m in a Pub and I ask for a beer and say “Give me an ale (how do I order a glass of ale?)”. Does that sound rude?
    Someone said to me that you might use: “may” in “May I have a glass of …(whatever)?” which is a non-rude way of asking things.
    What is the polite way of asking things (not to sound rude or impertinent)?
    Best wishes.

  • Hi Luke
    I really love your podcasts! I just can’t finish my day without listening to any of your podcasts. I only started like 2 weeks ago but I don’t have idea why I’m near to finishing it all considering the fact that each episode takes more than 50 minutes to finish. It made me realize I actually have that much free time.
    I’m getting attached to your voice and your podcasts, I can say. hehe.
    I’m afraid I’ll finish listening to it all soon. I don’t know what to listen next.
    But, I’ll certainly listen to your podcasts over and over again until I almost absorb what I need to absorb.
    :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)