The Art of Being Grumpy in London: A Beginner’s Guide
Oh, hello. You there, yes you. I see you’ve just arrived in London. Well done, you! Why you already appear a bit haggard from your flight, so you’re on the right track. Now, after you’ve been questioned extensively by the UK Border Patrol (the government is a bit Draconian these days, and to be frank, they don’t want you here! Unless you’re here to spend lots and lots of money on the Olympics) – hopefully Heathrow hasn’t lost your luggage at this point – now find your way to the London Underground. There will be many long corridors and you’ll get stuck behind people on the moving walkway who don’t understand the concept of “fast” and “slow” lanes. You’ll get this on the escalator as well. Before you know it you’ll be grumbling under your mouth, “Tourist.”
Ah good, you’ve made it on to the tube. Now, you are on the highest capacity vessel for grumpdom in the whole of the UK. Within just one car of the packed metro system you’ll find dozens of variations of what is known as “tube face.” Now, each person has their own version of “tube face,” but for a crash course, follow these quick and easy steps:
Step 1. Be exhausted. Even if you’ve just had a cup of coffee, or more likely a “cuppa” tea, YOU ARE SO TIRED RIGHT NOW. Nod on and off between consciousness and waking. Let your eyes sag as if you haven’t slept in days.
Step 2. Lose hope in humanity. Look in despair. Roll your eyes at the people around you – more so, just stare at your feet, avert eye contact with people. If you happen to catch someone’s eye, do NOT smile at them. I repeat, DO NOT SMILE AT ANYONE. You’ve lost faith in humanity, remember?
Step 3. Hate anyone who is doing anything. At all. UGH. Can you believe those two people have the nerve to talk to each other? AWFUL. They’re probably American, amiright!? That woman reading the newspaper next to you? I can’t believe her arm brushed against yours! Oh and I won’t even get you STARTED on the arshehole who had the nerve to lug their latest Ikea purchases on to the underground. Lest we forget the screaming children, someone stuffing smelly food down their gullet, and those awful teenagers making out. Your tube face really should say, “Everyone is making my day horrible and I disapprove of everything everyone is doing.” Remember, your FACE has to say it, because you’re in London and people don’t talk to each other. Especially not in such contained locations.
Now that you’ve finally made it out of that godforsaken train, you must be feeling terribly grumpy. You are. You are so grumpy. Naturally the first thing you will notice after having emerged above ground, after being stuffed like sausages and forced to inhale toxic air….you will notice the weather. You will talk about the weather incessantly. Why is that, you ask. Well, my dear Watson (I made a bad joke, are you grumpier yet!?), it’s because the weather in London is consistently dreadful! No really, I mean that! I know it’s mid-June, but I promise you, you DO need wool socks, a winter coat, and anything you own that is water-resistant. No, no TRUST ME. It’s going to be cold. It’s going to rain. In the summer. And every other season. London doesn’t exactly have a climate, it just has weather. Now, now it isn’t ALWAYS terrible. There will be a few days when the sun finally appears. You will feel confused, but mostly you will feel relieved. You’d forgotten what the sun looked like, what it felt like. You will brandish any and all opportunities to be outside – however you can’t escape the queasy feeling in your stomach as you lie in the grass, knowing this moment is fleeting. Now that the sun has gone back to its rightful place – oblivion- you will wake up the next morning and realize your pale, pale skin is now a deep singed red. It’s the hue of grumpy.
So, you’ve prepared yourself for the weather. I told you so. Now, LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE AWFUL PEOPLE WITH UMBRELLAS. They’re so rude, aren’t they? Why couldn’t they just get a smart rain coat and hat like you? No need to bother everyone with such over-sized annoyances. Their need to stay dry is interrupting YOUR need to get to wherever you’re going as quickly and with as least interaction with the human population as possible. It’s raining for chrissake!
Now that you’ve dodged so many umbrellas, you’ve finally made it safely in to the pub, order yourself a pint. You deserve it. Just don’t expect the service to be any good.
And when you wake up the next morning, you’ll get dressed, and as you face another day, you’ll realize your grumpy pants are too tight.