11 Trivial Things That Make Londoners Really Angry

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Londoners are an angry bunch, aren’t we? We get riled by red lights and infuriated by inanimate objects. But are we letting the bile get the better of us when we should just chill out? Here are 11 trivial things which are guaranteed to make a Londoner angry.

1. Eating on the tube

It’s funny how the prospect of a fellow passenger chowing down on a sandwich makes us want to break stuff. Last month we spotted this article in the Standard questioning when eating on the tube became acceptable, and opinions were divided again recently when a woman eating salad became national news. There are a lot of unacceptable things about the tube. People eating on it is one of the least of them.

2. Sniffing/coughing/throat-clearing

The tube is a dusty, dirty place. Some of us also have colds which we’ve caught from those people who refuse to take a day off sick. Sometimes we need to cough or sneeze or clear our throats of tube dust. We can’t help it and we’re not doing it to annoy you so get over it and stop glaring at us. But give us a cough sweet first.

3. Bad walking etiquette

This covers a multitude of sins — walking four abreast while dawdling, looking at phones while walking, stopping in the middle of the pavement. Walking and looking at a phone are two mutually incompatible activities yet thousands of Londoners do it every day, seemingly relying on other pedestrians not to walk into them. What’s so important that it can’t wait till you’ve sat down somewhere? As for dawdling, anyone who’s tried it in Canary Wharf’s shopping centre between 12 and 2pm will have experienced pedestrian rage — as the old adage goes, never get between a Wharfer and their lunch.

4. Music leakage

We’ve never quite got how the standard-issue earphones which come with smartphones and MP3 players can be so hopelessly inadequate. Or why our fellow passengers listen to such terrible music. But it infuriates us anyway because it’s exactly the kind of noise which isn’t loud enough to truly bother us but is just loud enough to be distracting. Next time you see someone on public transport who’s oblivious to the annoying ‘tst tst tst’ leaking from their earphones, tell them they’ll go deaf and wait for them to say ‘what?’. Trust us, it’s funny.

5. Not moving down

Whether it’s on the train, on the platform or simply in front of the doors, not moving down is guaranteed to rile Londoners. Despite years of posters and daily tannoy reminders telling us to move down, we still congregate around the doors. Part of the reason for this is strategic — stand by the platform exit and you’re more likely to get a seat as everyone in that carriage was there precisely because it was by the exit. But it’s also down to not wanting to have to force our way back through the crowd of people congregating by the doors to get off the train, otherwise known as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

6. Oyster card unreadiness

Like bad walking etiquette, not having your Oyster card ready for the barriers when you know you need it is trivial in the larger scheme of things but tremendously annoying for the people behind you. The reality is that the hold-up you cause is mere seconds but when mildly inconveniencing a Londoner can result in reactions ranging from the very British ‘tut’ to a full-scale shouting match, we think it might be better to avoid the stress and just have your damn card ready.

7. The cable car

If Boris Johnson had set out to create a stick for his opponents to beat him with, then he couldn’t have done better than the cable car. Spending millions in taxpayers’ money to build a transport solution which links just two places, only one of which anyone really wants to go to, was never going to win hearts and minds. The only thing more annoying than the cable car is people moaning about the cable car.

8. Leaning on the poles

The poles are for holding, not for leaning. When you lean on the poles, you are preventing someone else from being able to hold it and it’s just another of those aggravating things which people with no self-awareness do on public transport. It also means having to break the first rule of public transport which is never to speak to your fellow commuters.

9. Road rage and red lights

Arguably not trivial, but always guaranteed to bring on the red mist. Whether it’s cyclists selectively obeying road laws, taxi drivers who see a pedestrian crossing the road then accelerate madly towards them so that they can hoot their horn and make a big fuss, bus drivers blocking pedestrian crossings or traffic lights which only let two cars through, London’s roads are one of the angriest places to be.

10. Delays

The other day we saw a group of shoppers nearly incandescent with rage because the supermarket doors had been closed for two minutes so they could be cleaned. Anything that holds us up makes us seethe, from delays on the tube to someone paying for a fizzy drink with a debit card. If you’re a regular bus user, get ready for more delays from 6 July as perplexed tourists try to pay with cash. And the delay on the tube is almost certainly going to happen when you haven’t got a seat, you’re running a bit late anyway and your shoes hurt. Just don’t tweet TfL to complain as one commuter did, and got a sarcastic reply.

11. Generally being objectionable

The list of trivial yet irritating behaviour which falls under this heading could be endless. To name but a few — spitting on the pavement, talking loudly on your phone in enclosed spaces, audible gum chewing, boisterous teenagers on the bus, misbehaving toddlers on the tube, people dropping litter, those weird scooter things you see a lot of in Shoreditch, not standing on the right — it just goes on and on.

What trivial things make you angry? Tell us in the comments.

Photo by Stephanie Sadler in the Londonist Flickr pool.

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  • natamora

    People not walking on the left. Especially on the tunnel to platform 6 at London Bridge.

    • Ross Bourne

      To be fair, that’s a tricky one, as some stations have signs asking you to walk on the left and some the right. I get that wrong sometimes when at stations I don’t use very often.

    • jeniren

      How bizarre, not aware of any convention that pedestrians should walk on the left. Never seen a sign in specific tunnel referred to either.

      • Richard M

        There’s a few places on the underground that say ‘keep left’.

      • S K V

        there are loads of signs that say ‘keep left’. They are blue and usually near tube entrances/exits, or just mid corridor, or on the stairs. They are on the walls. I’ve lived in London my whole life, and I thought everyone (that lives here) knew that, so I always wonder why people aren’t walking on the left. We should make the signs bigger.

    • BethPH

      There’s a ‘keep left’ sign in one of the passages at Bank, but the layout of the entrances either end put you in the wrong place to be on the left so consequently, no-one keeps left.

      • Jon Millwood

        the DLR to monument passage changed to keep right a year or so ago as this puts you the correct way round for the DLR platforms

  • Helen

    People taking the short cut to the Piccadilly line platform at Leicester Sq when it’s really busy and full of people getting off the platform. When it’s quiet, yes. When it’s busy, NO

    • BethPH

      In a similar vein, I’ve started noticing people walking through the Central line trains at Stratford as a short cut between platforms. I’m not sure why but it grates on my nerves.

      • Chi The Cynic

        People do it at Canary Wharf DLR all the time, too. Fine if the train carriage is empty, but when it’s packed full and then some numpty tries to squeeze through just to avoid going down the platform stairs and up the other side, it’s deeply annoying. My hope is that one day the doors will close and they’ll end up in Poplar.

        • BethPH

          I think that was why it caught my attention – the train was rammed but this guy (who was also committing the commuter sin of wearing a large rucksack) barged through to get to the opposite platform.

  • http://twitter.com/ralasdair Alasdair

    “Cyclists selectively obeying road laws”.

    Not sure if that gets on my goat more than the HGV’s selectively obeying road laws and killing people, but okay…

    • Ciara

      I knew this was you before I even looked at the name.

    • Dave H

      Well, the article is supposed to be about “trivial things that make Londoners really angry”, instead of “potentially criminal things that make Londoners really injured/dead”.

      Likewise, I think it’s fine that muggings and murders didn’t feature in this list, as they are rarely ‘trivial’.

    • Stuart Dean

      HGVs don’t selectively obey road laws. Grow up.

      • http://batman-news.com Bradders

        “Only 30 per cent of the almost 6,000 vehicles [lorries] stopped in the 11 months from January were driven legally” – taken from Metropolitan Police report. Shoddily researched comments didn’t make the list, non? Next years maybe.

        • NQ

          Even the Met aren’t likely to stop a majority of legally-driven lorries.

    • Richard M

      People who mistakenly say “gets on my goat”.

  • unslugged

    Re point 8, what really gets my goat is when you’re already holding the pole, and then someone leans on it, trapping your hand. You’d be amazed how often this happens.

    • andybrice

      Just unnervingly wiggle your fingers around a bit. They’ll soon reposition themselves.

  • aaa

    have a camomile tea people!!

  • Anne

    People who walk straight at you and barge you out of the way, even when you’ve made an effort to try and step aside for them, but there isn’t anywhere else for you to go!

    • orion

      This is generally a Paris thing (where it’s a rule, not exception) and very rarely happens in the UK. We ought to be proud of that, especially in cities as commuter heavy like London. But hey, it’s not easy being the politest country in the world!

      • Londoner

        That’s not true! In London, no one tries to step aside to prevent bumping into another person! People simply don’t care, barge you out of the way and often say “Sorry” – as that would make it ok… And I’m not talking about tourists! Being polite in London is: first, do something bad, and then apologize.

        • MattFromLondonist

          I don’t recognise that at all. I don’t recall ever being bumped into – more often it’s an awkward pavement dance of over-politeness. Perhaps I just look really intimidating or something, and no one messes with me.

          • HoosierSands

            This doesn’t happen to me either-but I’ve only lived here 30 years.

          • Philippa

            As a female of short stature, I find it happens to me EVERY SINGLE DAY. I started taking note of who was doing it several months ago, and four out of five times, it is a middle ages man in a suit. Or several, walking abreast. There’s simply no awareness that I have as much of a right to be walking on the pavement with them. So I’ve started staring them dead in the eye as they do it. It helps.

          • S K V

            hey, maybe it’s a coincidence but I am short too and a female of the species. I notice the exact same thing. Big businessy bastards always barging their way through life. The central line is not the apprentice, people – you don’t have to be ruthless here.

    • Nicola

      I made a conscious decision a year or so back to say a really cheery “you’re welcome!” every time I made way for someone who didn’t even look me in the eye to acknowledge my gesture. Sometimes I get a belated “thank you”, mostly I don’t, but it feels better than muttering “f*** you” under my breath :-)

      • Evan

        Agreed. I do the same thing, loudly and deliberately so they hear.

  • Richard

    People who pronounce the “L” in “Holborn”. Never fails to irk me.

  • orion

    Number one is without debate standing on the left on the escalator.

    I don’t think people are too bothered by eating on the commute unless it’s smelly and/or being eaten by a very noisy eater. Things that DO bother us are noisy phone calls, feet on seats not apologising when bumping into someone.

  • JayJey

    Really? There is a walking etiquette? F***k that ! I’ll stop whenever I want, If someone behind bumps into me maybe they should have left a safe distance (like on the road), tired of people power walking everywhere with a grim face. People should relax a bit more and take things easier.

    • Ross Bourne

      A safe distance? Yeah, that’s easy in a city with 8-10 million people in it. How about people start engaging their brains and realise that the world still exists behind them, even though they can’t see it?

    • kellly33

      Sure, and when I bump into you because you stopped in the middle of a thoroughfare, don’t get all irritated and tsk at me. One person stopping means a delay for everyone else behind him, which is rude and narcissistic.

    • Evan

      You’re not from London…

  • Drew

    Herd of tourist standing in middle of Oxford St, my friends call me Brian O’Driscoll on that street. URGH!!

  • Tessa Shillabeer

    Unruly Pigeons…not a people hate i know but a hate none the less.

  • MattFromLondonist

    How much is anger/irritation and how much superiority complex? I think some people (not all people) properly enjoy sniping at minor infractions as it makes them feel like they’re a better person than the individual whom they’re criticising. See also, two-thirds of all tweets.

  • Oliver

    People sitting on the outside seat on buses or trains, leaving a space between them and the window.

    • Bognor Bob

      If you have long legs then it is much more comfortable than becoming a preying mantis up against the glass, Try an “excuse me” and you’ll usually get a helpful reply

  • Craig Bauer Melson

    this is written by people not from london, for people who only moved here in their mid20s. id also say the above is annoying everywhere.

  • Ross Bourne

    How about those people who will ram into an already full car on the tube, because they just cannot wait two whole minutes until the next train? Not only is it completely impatient and totally rude, but they could cause serious physical damage to young kids too small to be seen. Luckily it’s never happened in a car I’ve been in (so far), but I’d hate to be the moron who causes an accident in my presence, as a broken nose often offends.

    • Bognor Bob

      Getting on before passengers have left the carriage

    • Bob the builder

      When somebody runs to the platform to jump on a train that is about to close its doors, despite the fact that the train is so full that many people hadn’t got on and are already waiting on the platform for the next train.

  • cameo

    Backpackers on the tube insisting on not taking their bags off on a jam packed carriage. I make sure i give them a side ways nudge..

  • M. Khan

    What really grinds my gears is when you tell non Londoners that you are a Londoner yourself and the look they give full of prejudice and ignorance.

  • Jamie

    Bad customer service and drunks everywhere (& vomit)…

  • Seagull65

    Feet up on the bus seats (thereby transferring dog poo from the soles of shoes to my duvet cover via the back of my trousers when i sit on said seat)

  • Ivi Nogueira Piotto

    Tourists

  • bianca malata

    Number 11 really makes me want to smack people sometimes. That throaty spitting just makes my blood boil!

    Marriage Proposals in Seattle’s Chinese Room

  • James Griffin

    EVERYTHING.

  • Walerian Borowczyk

    You missed spitting on the pavement … London must be the gobs of spit capital of Britain. If you ride on the top of a bus you’ll see a regular spit fest with the occasional turbo snot thrown in for good measure.

    • Gillian Smith

      TURBO snot? WTF is turbo snot? I’ll never get that picture out of my mind now. Thanks.

  • HHGeek

    Gum. Just gum. Also the inability of many people these days to navigate using, you know, their eyes & road signs & stuff rather than silly little screens. But mostly gum. Chewing, masticating, slurping, discarding.

    First thing I’m banning when I rule the world.

  • Madras Madras

    I wonder why the men are always fully covered but the women are allowed to dress at their will.

  • Stuart Dean

    Outstanding article – basically highlights the appalling lack of manners and all-round rudeness in our City. Remember the Olympics? Remember how everyone was nice to each other when that was on? Soon as it finished, it all stopped. Every single thing in the above riles me to an extent at some point or another, simply because it’s just so downright rude and unneccessary.

    Oh, but you did forget how people “queue” at bus stops. Here comes the bus, drift past this pregnant woman, amble past this eldery lady, great, now I’m right pressed up the front of the door ready to get on first when I actually only got here ten seconds ago. THAT drives me mad.

    • Bob the Builder

      I think the majority of people are really polite, but the public transport system is so overcrowded and highly strung that pretty much everybody would have to be super considerate to each-other for it to be tolerable. That’s why a few inconsiderate or just simply unaware people can be disproportionately annoying.

  • Banshee

    People who walk down/up the escalator but stop at the last few steps…afraid they`ll spin off uncontrollably ?

  • Macker

    I’m a very ancient Londoner and I’d estimate that queuing for buses as we know it Jim disappeared around the early ’70s. Many of these things are personal and I’ve transgressed myself so no superiority from me.Not too bothered about the occasional cough but hate that person eating the smelly kebab two seats along. Here’s another relatively new one I’ve experienced: the tendency for young blokes sitting next to you – and it’s always blokes – to cross one leg over the other so they can use your trousers to wipe the soles of their shoes. This often provides me with hours of fun on the longer journeys.

    • natamora

      I think proper queuing for buses stopped a bit later than that – early 80s. I remember being in a bit of a daydream and wandering onto a bus when people had been waiting before me and getting severely ticked off by all of them (I was mortified, I just hadn’t been thinking). These days it’s a free for all – except for the bus stops going northwards from outside Waterloo in morning rush hour (by the IMAX) – I used to see neat queues there about 4 years ago when I still commuted. Don’t know it it’s still the case.

  • Paula Louise Pearson

    I thought it was just me that got annoyed at ALL o the above, feel better now knowing it isn’t!

  • Frogmella

    Can’t believe no-one’s mentioned wheelie bags! Whether it’s a full-blown suitcase or a titchy-tiny briefcase thing, by virtue of being dragged along it makes one person take up the space of three. AND the little ones make you trip cuz you can’t see them…

  • Carmen

    I think the british are too reserved, they should be more relaxed

  • http://whatleydude.com/ James Whatley

    Number six. Number six. Number six.

  • JJAT

    People not giving up their seat for someone who uses a walking stick, whatever age,

  • Nicola

    I don’t so much mind eating on the tube / bus, but leaving the remnants behind is unforgivable. Put it in the bin, folks, instead of leaving the rubbish or spillages stinking the place out for hours afterwards.

    • Gillian Smith

      Why does the food stink? What the hell do they eat?

  • BobbyBarker

    Certainly glad I read this before visiting this August – cheers.

  • LauraB

    What about people who ride up/down the escalator, then get off, walk two steps and stop. Downright dangerous. Haven’t you noticed how busy it is? …Ok, you can’t see them, but there are 500 people right behind you who are about to knock you flat as THEY come off the escalator. Much the same applies to people who swipe through the ticket barrier and stop. The number of times I’ve nearly been trapped in the barrier because the idiot in front (with a trolley bag) is blocking the exit…

  • The Way I see It.

    Hehe! This is HILARIOUS! I am originally from up North, so thank you for letting me know what annoys you Cockneys the most. From now on, I am going to ANNOY the **** out of the LOT of you by doing ALL of these things!! I am going to have great fun!!!!
    P.s. Why do you care anyway whether I don’t move down on the tube/train to the end of the carraige. I PAY, yes I REPEAT, I PAY to go on the train so I stand WHERE I WANT- that goes for the platforms too. Why would I go all the way to the end to then go back again to get off. I don’t care because NONE of you Cockneys care (on the trains and buses anyway). You even said it yourselves in number 8- never to talk to other commuters! What’s THAT all about Cockneys?! You make me laugh- you all complain that London is a really unfriendly place but NONE of you do anything about it but moan and most of you stay to whine. Just LEAVE! I LOVE London- just not you whiners!! I am going to eat LOTS of really smelly food like curry on the underground now and have my headphones REALLY loud! I am going to DELIBERATELY not have my oyster card ready at the barrier so I can’t wait for the ‘tut’ and bring it on if you want a slanging match! And I am going to lean against the poles! Hehe!!
    I am going to clear my throat loudly, and I am going to stop in the middle of the pavement, walk slowly and generally hold you all up just to annoy you (you know who you are, you Londoners who are always rushing about looking busy). I pay my taxes so I will stand where I want too on the pavement.
    Road rage and red lights, delays? What can you do? Move on, stop moaning and stop being bores. There is nothing you can do about it so shut up!
    Oh, and get a life!
    Ta ra!
    P.s. You even WALK up and down the escalators. I don’t know whether you have all noticed, but they are made to move by themselves. It doesn’t really get you further or quicker onto a train because there are plenty of other people in front of you. It’s all in the head people!
    Eh, eh, CALM DOWN, CALM DOWN!!!!!!

    P.p.s. I am going to Canary Wharf at lunchtime to get in your way!! Haha!!

    • Dave H

      Number 12: People who repeatedly misuse the word ‘Cockney’.

  • Squiz

    Birds. take your Oyster card out of your handbag before stepping up to the ticket gate. You know its in there, and you know you’ll need it.

    • S K V

      do the pigeons need oyster cards now too?

  • Deb

    I find this quite interesting, you know the same annoying crap happens her in Australia too, I suggest it is a world wide self absorbed problem.

  • SM

    People sitting on the outside seats on buses and tutting when you ask if you can sit down.

  • Stylish

    I just keep calm… Way nicer way of living than getting irritated by nearly everything..

  • Matt

    Two words. Cycle Rickshaws.

  • Pfft Londoner

    When I’m on the tube or a bus (and as we know already these seats are packed together) an obese person sits beside me and they “spill” in to my space. Tragic.
    When this happens on any bus from Elephant and Castle, somehow it’s my fault and I get a rather loud “eh” like it’s my fault they spill.

  • Gav

    Women who get on a packed train and leave their oversized handbags on their shoulders to press into everyone around them. Whilst men generally get in same train and remove rucksacks or similar to put by their side or on the floor. You know – cos they have just an inkling of spatial awareness

  • mch

    I was reading on the tube in a corner holding on to the pole. In comes gentleman sticks his hand on pole in front of my face, sticks his book in front of my face, trying to read. Pretnds to be oblivious, the whole journey about 10 stops, like I don’t exist!! Is there no sense of personal space?

  • Squiz

    Spitting. wtf is the matter with these people ? if your mouth tastes that vile try cleaning your teeth and using some mouthwash..

  • Anon

    People urinating in public really gets my goat. Why is people urinating in public less annoying to other Londoners than people eating food? Has the world gone mad?

  • Ric Euteneuer

    This is a particular beef of medium distance commuters – particularly at Kings Cross – people who take their kids to London during half-term – buy the wrong ticket, try and get on a rush hour train with Tristan and Charlotte with an offpeak travelcard return, then when they finally do get on, they (gasp) realise that the chances, even in the shoulder peak, of getting 4 seats together round a table are non-existent; they then drag their offspring round a museum they have no interest in, make up for it with an eye wateringly expensive burger and chips and vastly overpriced cuddly toy at the Rainforest Cafe, and THEN attempt to catch the train home ca. 5pm with the same offpeak ticket, and ending up screaming at the ticket barrier staff “Do you SERIOUSLY expect me to wait 2 hours before I come back?” (no, they expect you to buy the right ticket in the first place), and then wander the length of an 8 or 12 carriage train bewailing the fact that – yes, they can’t get 4 seats together on a crowded rush hour train, and end up wandering to the front, declaiming loudly that “people are too rude to allow us to sit together”, and “this is the last time – the LAST time – we are ever taking the train”.

    If only

  • Ric Euteneuer

    This also seems to happen in London – people who get to the front of a shop counter or on a bus whilst they are on a mobile, and when the shopworker/driver asks what they want, they put a finger up, as if to say “Sorry, I’ll be with you in a minute, I’m engaged on a REALLY important call at the moment, so I can’t actually speak to you”. Well, eff off to the back of the queue then ! Also, people receiving a mobile call directly in front of you who then slow to a crawl whilst talking – is it REALLY so difficult to walk and talk at the same time?

  • Rebecca English

    Beautiful, Smashing! I must be a Londoner :). Everything on this list absolutely sends me spare BUT, I’m in Melbourne, Australia. People dragging themselves off the escalator at the station whilst on their phones, has to be the biggest peeve for most and usually leads to being roughly pushed out of the way. Whats more infuriating is that when you take a sneak peek over their shoulder, they not busy sending that oh so important text, they are finishing a level of candy crush!

  • S K V

    What about the people who suddenly walk up from behind you, and instead of neatly overtaking you, they just bulldoze your body. They usually just ram through your shoulder.

    I’m not a slow walker, I’m not wide, and I know my way around the underground, but sometimes some impatient person, walking the same way at a slightly faster pace just decides they’re going right through me. Then only to be met by a group of other people in front of them. Pointless.