Things I hear every day in London-town:
Miiiiiiind the gap!
This is an iconic slogan that has become very dear to Londoners and is plastered over all sorts of tourist merchandise to take in the suckers on Oxford Street. It actually can be a bit of a leap to the platform, mostly at stations with a curving platform, and especially hazardous to jandal-wearers – my fear of losing my jandal to the gap has almost made me stumble into the terrifying cavity on occasion. Why is it that concentrating on walking = inability to do so normally?.
PLEASE stand clear of the closing doors.
FFS. It’s not rocket science, and there will be a train along in another minute usually, but I find it hard to describe just how desperately people cram on to the trains at rush hour to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. I use the word ‘literally’ too much for it to be believed by my mother, but sometimes I literally can’t move my feet, can’t reach a handhold, can barely breathe, nor find a spot to gaze neutrally. People are spilling out so far that it seems a joke to ask anyone to ‘stand clear of the doors’, but somehow everyone breathes in enough to allow them to close, then sighs out the minimal air still left to consume and finds purchase anywhere they can.
Are you an Australian?
No. No it is not the same country. No we are not their seventh state. Yes, we are similar, and I forgive the confusion, I really do, but it would be safer just to ask ‘where are you from?’ We are as different from each other as Canadians and Americans, Scottish and Irish, Indian and Pakistani – in fact, all of these are MUCH closer to each other and most share a border, and just because you think we look and sound similar doesn’t mean you’re not going to invoke a nuclear crisis by confusing us. The average distance between the closest coasts of Australia and New Zealand is 2250km. That’s roughly the distance from London to Dubrovnik (by ROAD, not even ‘as the crow flies’). So feel free to assume that NZ and Oz are indistinct, as long as you accept that virtually all Europeans are the same also.
Oh, so is it Summer in NZ when it’s Winter here?
Yes, I’ve been asked this multiple times. Yes, it disturbs me. Especially when they half-ask the question, then decide to work it out themselves, and a good, awkward, 30 seconds later they come up with the conclusion that it must be Winter in NZ when it’s Autumn here. There are TWO hemispheres, not four! Yes, it’s also a different time zone. And NZ is ahead, in fact the ‘first country to see the sun’. This simple geographical fact seems to completely baffle the Brito-centric, making me want to break out a globe and explain such advanced concepts as day/night/timezones/hemispheres.
But how can it be sunny at Christmas time?!
Followed on from the season confusion is an often gut-wrenching and heartfelt sadness from the Northerner that us Southerners don’t have white Christmases. I actually am really looking forward to a cold, dark, atmospheric Christmas period with mulled wine, markets, pretty lights and all that jazz. Maybe even snow! But I also think there’s something to be said for having a barbeque at the beach and going swimming, and we all know getting sozzled in the sunshine is the most cost-effective form of alcoholism (save, perhaps, in the shower). I guess it plays into the stereotypical ‘laid-back’-ness of kiwis, but hey, we still get boozed, fight with our family, get into serious debt, and lose too many lives on the roads, so the main holiday traditions are alive and well.
This is just a quickie, but I’m thinking now I may have to write one on things I say that are weird here. Sweet as bro!