Ways To Tell When You've Become A Real Londoner

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 20 months ago
Ways To Tell When You've Become A Real Londoner
Photo by Nandan Prabhu from the Londonist Flickr pool

You might think that, at Londonist, we exist on a televisual diet of London Live, BBC London News and repeats of Spaced and Only Fools and Horses. This is largely true, but occasionally someone else gets hold of the remote control and flips through the channels. This was how we found ourselves watching the Subway Wars episode of How I Met Your Mother, in which 'the gang' (the official collective noun for any group of sitcom characters) discuss ways you know you're a real New Yorker. They come up with:

  • see Woody Allen
  • steal a cab from someone who needs it more than you
  • cry on the subway and not give a damn what anyone thinks
  • kill a cockroach with your bare hand.

Oh, whatever, New York. We have our own list of what it takes to be a real Londoner...

Try to be clever to avoid a public transport snafu and still get caught out

Signalling problems on the Central line? No problem: you don't need Citymapper to work out an alternative route, you're a real Londoner. You deftly swerve away from the station entrance (you're so real you don't even need to approach the barriers to know there's a problem), jumping on a bus that will connect you to your destination. Except then the bus breaks down. Congratulations: now you're a real Londoner.

Photo by Misty from the Londonist Flickr pool

See Will Self

Will Self is our Woody Allen. If you haven't seen him on one of his regular perambulations, you'll see him in the pub or perhaps a Pret. Do not, however, engage him in conversation unless you have a dictionary handy.

Have a close encounter with a tube mouse

We don't mean 'see one on the tracks'. Any tourist can do that. We're talking about having one run across your foot as it emerges from a hole in the wall next to where you're standing; we once heard of a friend of a friend who had one disappear up his trouser leg. Extra London points if you don't squeal like a small child during your close encounter of the furry kind.

'Sarf of the river? At this time of night?'

It's a cliche about cabbies not wanting to venture into the mean streets of Wandsworth or Nunhead after midnight, and it's a cliche largely because it doesn't happen often. But it does happen. It's particularly annoying when the cab's gone 30 yards and hit an inexplicable wall of traffic and the driver's clearly thought 'bugger this'.

A fiver no longer seems extortionate for a pint

Paying a fiver for a pint, sadly, isn't that uncommon anymore. The real Londoner doesn't make a fuss about this. The real Londoner suppresses a wince and vows to switch to drinking bitter.

Got your own opinions on this? Of course you do. Let us know in the comments.

Last Updated 11 October 2016

Continued below.


Excellent, I'm in - I once saw Will Self hail a bus with his furled brolly in Stockwell.

Mike Paterson

You're still prepared to give it a go when the pedestrian crossing count-down has reached zero.

Mark Walley

Someone mentions house prices and half an hour later you've warmed up to "really quite angry" and are fast approaching "properly cross".

Roland Nagy

Bull c 😃 please prettt please lets fight for the one pound can in off licenses...one ten max! Agreed? Highly?


Coming from NYC, the subway mouse is the cutest! London is the cutest!

Kim Lewis

Will Self in queue for Brockwell Lido one very hot summer's day. But as a native Londoner I was bound to see him at some point I suppose.


Love London Its Thousands Of Miles Away..Just How I Like It.


But Its Still My Favourite City In The Whole Wide World..


Citymapper? Amateurs! :) when my train was cancelled I bussed and tubed and still made the connecting train for my flight. All from my memory.


SWITCH to drinking bitter? I wouldn't drink that other aforementioned chemical swill even if it was half the price of a good pint of ale!


I can do: almost knocked down by Rod Stewart in Trafalgar Square, shared an umbrella with Ken Livingstone in a downpour, caught Boris cycling on a pavement, had a casual chat in the street with Tony Blair.

Brian Makepeace

You can't be a Londoner without having strong opinions on good and bad bus routes. Your application begins with being asked what your favourite bus route is, and though there is a bit of room in the scoring for subjective preference, the Londoner adjudicating your application will rate your answer and tell you whether or not you're wrong. This is the first test of 14....


The cost of a pint hits too close to home.

Greg Tingey

"Sarf of he rivver?"
They eat their children dahn there ....

"Meantime" have been taken over by the Industrial chemists, as manufactured ( NOT "brewed" ) by Peroni & Stella ...
Plenty of proper beer ( a k a "Real Ale" ) in London @ much lower prices ...


Sarf of the river,
The term goes back to days of the hansom cab ,she thieves and ladies of the night frequented the south bank area around London bridge and southward bridge

Mike Hughes

Get on the correct tube carriage so that when you get to your destination, you're in the exact right spot to walk straight out of the exit

Eric Coomber

How about when a tourist asks you for directions and you don't need to refer to signage or a map to direct them.

Gordon Krinks

Be born here. Live first 20 years before heading off to more exotic locations (Leicester, Swindon, Reading and Rome). Come back, Spend 20 years as a courier, Know as many streets as a Cabbie, Go to Soho for The first time in about 8 years and nearly get killed because they changed the direction of traffic in Greek Street?


When you don't actually want to live somewhere else? (I moved out and moved back again, though Southern Rail was a factor in that deceision.)

Robin Rowles

Tube station queue spilling out on the pavement? No problem, walk to next station. True Londoners will walk to next station. A quarter mile is nothing, half mile a stroll, a mile is a short walk.


Seeing out-of-towners standing on the tube but not holding on, and trying to guess how long it will be before they collapse in a heap when the train judders

Al Boake

Knowing in advance on which side the tube doors will open. In the trains that do not show which side. Me, I was born in London, visit often, but am clueless as to which side the doors will open.

Michael Dembinski

Seeing the letters 'LCC' stamped on your primary school cutlery.