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Seven moments that make Londoners want to be swallowed up by the ground

Man asleep on the Tube
Photograph: Instagram Awkward: Waking at the terminus

What is life but a series of awkward scenarios? Here are the ones likely to get Londoners peeking through their fingertips from a big fat dose of cringe.

1. Accidentally touching someone up

The sensation of someone’s clammy little finger touching yours as you reach for the same patch of train handle is enough to make you recoil. So when you’re forced into a carriage scrum, having to press half your body’s surface area onto a stranger triggers panic – you could be moments from pepper sprayed eyeballs and the British Transport Police. But hey, it’s not your fault that London’s rush hour is more intimate than a dark corner of a Soho nightclub.

2. Waking up at the tube terminus

If it’s not the freezing night air that wakes you as it leaks in through the open carriage doors, it’s a stern word from the man in a high-vis jacket and a disapproving expression. ‘Come on mate, it’s time to go home’ is a sorrowfully familiar phrase. The level of awkwardness is directly relative to how wasted you are – the guy opposite with a suspicious patch on his trousers definitely doesn’t give a toss.

3. The table turf-off

Leaving your drink on the table as you pop out for a smoke is not an affirmative sign you’re coming back. Unless you want to intervene in Tinder date PDAs by kicking them off your patch, spare everyone the red face and leave a jacket, scarf, pocket handkerchief, monocle – anything! – on that chair.

4. The High Street Run

One wrong turn on your Park Run and you’re flailing upstream on a high street, dodging people like Rick from 'The Walking Dead'. With red cheeks and hair plastered to your head from sweat, dignified it ain’t. Po-faced workers on an office bonding pilgrimage stare as if to say ‘doesn’t she know there’s a park right over there?' as you feverishly look for a side street to make a swift escape.

5. Getting ‘glammed up’

Ask any Londoner – they’d sooner wear their Uncle Stan’s stained double denim with trainers so battered they have actual mouths than look a smidgen overdressed. Never mind that it takes more effort to look like, um, you haven’t made an effort. Embarrassing flashbacks of fake lashes and fascinators, or that poufy dress that made you feel like a six-year-old at a party, keep us firmly on the side of sartorial underplay.

6. The loudspeaker humiliation

It starts with denial. ‘I’m talking to you!’ bellows the exasperated tube driver on the speaker. ‘How embarrassing for that person,’ you think, until you realise it’s your backpack that’s jammed in the door and holding everyone up.

7. The turnstile flytrap

There is no more simple system in existence than ‘tap and go’. So it’s with wonderment that you watch the person in front at the train barrier hesitate, then dawdle through on your card. There’s only a slim window of time to dash through before it snaps shut but BAM, it’s too late. You’re caught like a squirming insect in a giant Venus flytrap; an exhibit to be seethed at by the hordes behind you. May as well leave London now pal – you are no longer welcome here.

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Comments

2 comments
AlexanderSE10

Written by someone that clearly hasn't spent much time in London. No true Londoner would ever wear a backpack onto a train - that's what tourists do. Don't leave anything unattended on a table in a pub ever - possessions will be stolen and the bar staff will clean up any unattended drinks. Also, it's a sad reflection on the boring times we live in that being overdressed is considered a faux pas - consider the 70s and 80s when Londoners wanted to stand out from the crowd, not blend in!

Rebekah E

@AlexanderSE10 Probably half the people on my commute have rucksacks. Most of them are either Herschel Supply, Fjallraven Kanken or Sandqvist. The only thing true Londoners know is to put them on the tube floor so you don't end up accidentally whacking people.