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What Londoners Say Vs. What They Mean

Sixty-six capital cliches, translated.

Photo illustration by Matt Tucker, Dan Kitwood / Getty/paulprescott72/Thinkstock

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 startups 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.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy the book Quick Pint After Work, And Other Everyday Lies by Luke Lewis.

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