Ten Rules of London Etiquette

I used to make frequent visits to London pre-son – I worked there for a time so commuted daily to our fair capital and, following that, made regular trips to see friends, have jaunts and attend events.

Admittedly I’m a little out of practice, but overall I thought I had the whole ‘big city’ thing pretty well sorted. That is until this week – we took our son (nearly three) on his first proper trip to London to visit Big Ben and my eyes have been well and truly opened – I have been ‘doing’ London all wrong.

To save you from the same embarrassing mid-trip realisation I urge you to take heed readers – leave your quiet done-this-before nonchalance on the platform and take not another step in the Big Smoke without first complying with the following guidelines of London Etiquette:

Uniform –first things first, you need a London-specific outfit. Shun subtlety here. Opt for something that really screams LONDON. Refer to it only as your ‘London top’ and refuse to wear it at any other time unless you can be guaranteed that you are actually going to London.

A snippet of a t-shirt COVERED in London buses. Not subtle

 

Preparation – parents can be flighty and parents frequently say they ‘don’t have enough pennies for that’, normally icecream. I strongly advise taking matters into your own hands and packing a ‘London bag’. Do this weeks, if not months, in advance – at the very first whiff of the London idea to be on the safe side. Pack wisely – pennies, Swashbuckle jewels, a small spanner and a ticket should do it.

 

On the Train – it is a sad fact that many of your fellow passengers may be confused as to where they are, where they are going and what they are doing. You must step in with some loud, important and frequent announcements ‘Mummy, we are on the train!…That woman is getting on the train!…That man is on the train too!…We on the Southampton to London Waterloo train!’

This is of the utmost assurance to those lost souls, but it’s a balance…you don’t want to alienate them with your superior grasp of the situation. Make your announcements, give a few moment’s pause for the information to sink in and then follow loudly with ‘where are we going Mummy?’.

 

Activity – in the run up to the big day your parents may make muttering about ‘ooo we could do this, go here, visit that, see them’…aquariums and transport museums may be mentioned. Instil a sense of ‘lets just go and survive’ in the people who gave you life by sleeping terrifically badly in the nights leading up to the trip. You will mercifully find yourself simply going to London, walking round the block and coming home again.

 

Safety First – London can be a dangerous place, channel your espionage abilities for this one. It’s important to put people off the scent from your true mission of sauntering round the block. If anyone, anyone at all – be it a uniformed guard, a fellow train passenger or a family member – asks what you are going to be doing in London you must be consistent and LIE. Stare until they repeat the question. While staring, think. Think of what you know about London, look at your uniform, then declare: ‘we are going on a London bus’.

 

Photography – Your parents may want to mark the occasion of you meeting Big Ben with various photo opportunities. Thwart. Look away, shake your head so you’re blurry, look grumpy, gurn.

IF you find yourself in an inevitable spiral towards a ‘celebratory family selfie in front of Big Ben’ here’s what you need to do: refuse to be held by anyone other than the more capable selfie-taker thus orchestrating the taking of said selfie by the parent who will struggle. You will have successfully paved the way for a lovely picture of half of each of your parent’s heads, a very tiny Big Ben peeking in the top right corner and NO toddler whatsoever.

 

Clock Problems –  Big Ben is all well and good, but if you find yourself in his vicinity you will not fail to notice a clock on Westminster Abbey that IS NOT WORKING. Do not be fobbed off into believing otherwise. This clock has only one hand and is emphatically not working. Make it known that you are on to this – demand a closer look and remind your companions of this strange not-working clock throughout the rest of the day and in the days following your visit. The very fabric of your understanding of horoloy will be challenged and this must not go un-noted.

 

Statues – you’ll see many statues adorning the streets and squares of the little bit of London you’ll get to. It is vitally important that you stop in front of each one, find out the name of the person depicted then re-enact their pose. If there is a horse involved you must not continue on your journey until the proper name for their steed has been imparted…‘Horsey’ will not cut it.

Me and my son very far away doing the stance of Lloyd George
Another great photo – reenactment of David Lloyd George’s ‘whatever’ pose

 

Station forecourts – stations are busy places; people seem rushed and some a little anxious. Keep everyone on their toes with a well-timed incident. Sit quietly and calmly as your pushchair is wheeled into the cramped aisles of the London Waterloo M&S. Eye up your target; reach out an arm and…there goes that bottle of champagne. Note with interest the gasps of fellow shoppers and the speed with which Mummy runs to the sandwiches and pretends not to know you or Daddy. Show no remorse, the only acceptable utterance in a moment like this is a loud cry of ‘WHOOPS! said Mr Clumsy!’

 

Bidding Farewell – it is incredibly important to deliver the correct and proper salutations in life. You are back on the train and have made your passenger announcements, all that’s left are your goodbyes: ‘GOODBYE LONDON’…‘GOODBYE LONDON EYE’…GOODBYE. Simple really. Ensure this is delivered at regular intervals and so that London can hear you until the train reaches Eastleigh – next stop Southampton Central.

 

Play kitchen with clock built in, a rainbow paper clock, a clock postcard and a postcard of Westminster area

 

For more toddler etiquette pop here.

Mumzilla

Diary of an imperfect mum
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback
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46 thoughts on “Ten Rules of London Etiquette

  1. haha! oh the joys of travelling with kids.. Ive just booked a couple of trips to London with the girls funnily… they are older though so I should be fine lol (I think!) #chucklemums

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  2. Haha I particularly like the train announcements! Also the packing that was done ahead of time. It does sound like it was a rather successful trip though.

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  3. My youngest is great on the tube. He repeatedly announces loudly to everyone that he wants to sit down, whilst staring at each seated person until one crumbles and gives him a seat:-) Lovely post, brings back memories.

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  4. Ahhhh I love this so much! He is just the cutest little guy. I’ve been doing London all wrong! Just looking to buy a dress with buses on it before I go again. Can’t believe you abandoned your poor husband when the champagne incident occurred hahah (I’d have done exactly the same…) xx

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    1. I know I felt awful. But I was quite far ahead so it was very easy to pretend I didn’t know them! And I silently checked that he was ok with me pretending that first! Oh dear, there isn’t really anything I can say is there…it was bad. I would have been so annoyed if he’d done the same but the question is would it have happened if I was pushing???
      I am so embarrassed for you that you’ve been doing London wrong this whole time. I shall very much look forward to pictures of the bus dress!!

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  5. As a Londoner it’s always fun to see my home town through others’ eyes. My son would agree though about the photos – most of his childhood pics are all blurry! love the bus tshirt too 🙂 Jo #chucklemums

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    1. They don’t seem to understand the gravity of occasion when it comes to pictures do they!? It was quite lovely to be in London with my son – we certainly noticed things I’ve never seen or thought about before…

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  6. Hahaha – I love the bit about making announcements on the train! I can’t imagine trying to navigate my way around London with the Popple – I have no doubt that she would be trying to run away from me at every turn because she saw something interesting (most likely a filthy piece of rubbish laying in the gutter). #ablogginggoodtime

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    1. My son loves litter so much at the moment…how strange are these little ones! Yes the train announcements we sooo sweet on the quiet train into London, less so on the packed one out! Although mostly we’d moved on to goodbyes at that point! Thank you for commenting x

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  7. Mine likes to announce to the world where we are going and what we are doing – though we are usually heading the opposite way to you! “We are going to the Isle of Wight to see Nanny’s cat Alan. We are going on the boat. Alan is a cat. Do you know Alan?” And so forth. #chucklemums

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    1. Haa, ahh love the level of detail…and the expectation that everyone will be interested. My little one has just learnt his address but hasn’t learnt to filter that yet. Think we may need a filtering conversation soon – he’ll announce to anyone his name, his age, what he likes to do and where he lives. I think he thinks he’s auditioning for a game show. Thanks for hosting fabby #chucklemums

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  8. Oh I love this! I’m looking to take my boy to London soon (pm this exact route weirdly) and have been wondering what it will be like. I think my boy will have no problem at all following this toddler etiquette. I,however ,might have a nervous breakdown!Did he really smash a bottle of champers?!Eeep xx #blogginggoodtime

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    1. Oh yes local buddy! Um yes he really did and yes I really did run away to the sandwich aisle. Oops! Ahh hope you have a fab time…I just thought it was now or never for a trip to London (like you with another one due soon). Thank you for commenting and sharing on Twitter x

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  9. This made me giggle – as someone who lives in S-E London but doesn’t get the kids ‘up town’ that often I can relate to these – especially bad sleeping in the build up to the ‘big day out’ and the grumpy photos!

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    1. Sooo many bad photos. Honestly if I shared pics of me on here I would have posted them. He’s looking the wrong way, looking grumpy, looking like he’s screaming, blurry. Meanwhile I am smiling widely at the camera looking ever so slightly more manic each time! Yes bad sleeping before a special ‘thing’ has long been a trick of my son. Survival mode does lower the expectations though. Thank you for commenting x

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  10. Yes…am super familiar with those well timed ‘incidents’. Also those blurry, ‘once in a lifetime’ shots, or family selfies with someone’s head missing. Aaaah the joys. #bigpinklink

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  11. Ha ha – good on you for ‘attempting’ to see the sights of London with a three year old. I am very impressed – some days just attempting to see the sights of Asda is too much for me! #bigpinklink

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    1. Haaa I know what you mean – it was an out of character spurt of energy! A bit now or never as well as I’ve got a new baby hopefully arriving in September and there is no way I’ll be leaving the house after that for probably another two years!

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  12. I cannot even begin to imagine being brave enough to take my two into London. In fact I’m not even sure that I would know how to behave in the Big Smoke? I may have to follow the instructions above! “Horsey’ will not cut it” made me howl!
    Brilliant xx
    #bigpinklink

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    1. Well my son could enlighten you – I discovered I’d been behaving all wrong to be honest. I wouldn’t be brave enough to take two in. We took one – one between two! And we genuinely did just walk round the block and come home again. I’m not even sure we spent three hours there! Thanks for your lovely comment x

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  13. oh this really made me smile – from the we are going to London announcements, the lady is getting on the train announcements all the way through to the gurning – fantastic! Oh and the small spanner? Did I miss something?? Hope it came in useful. Oh but I do miss those day trip to London with smalls! Hope you had fun overall my lovely! #BigPinkLink

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    1. We had a lot of fun thank you – it was very short but sweet! The small spanner was in my son’s bag. I didn’t pack it, he did. I presume it comes in useful for something at some point…he did partake in some shoring up of the train on the way home with his little spanner so perhaps that’s what it was for! Thanks for commenting lovely x

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  14. Oh my God, this is brilliant!! I was snorting all the way through!! (with laughter, I’m unfortunately a snorty laugher…!!) Written with a touch of genius! We took our eldest to London when he was 6 months old, but of course he was too young to heed this perfect step by step guide, but when the time comes, I shall show it to both children, and I have absolutely no doubt that they will pick up the correct etiquette immediately!! Especially the frequent train announcements part-they are definitely going to be all over that one! My eldest would also not accept ‘horsey thing,’ or a clock not working, under any circumstances either!! This post just made my day!!
    #bigpinklink

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    1. Ah what a totally lovely comment, I feel all warm inside and I’m so glad I made you snorty laugh (the best kind!!). I would really advise that you don’t let your two take heed of the champagne/M&S incident…it was excruciating and nearly quite expensive!). Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink x

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    1. Haha, oh no! I think I’ll be remembering this day for a little while…and won’t be rushing back! No, it was absolutely lovely but I couldn’t do it all the time and not with more than one small person! X

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  15. Okay I am off to London in less than 48 hours with a baby in tow and have not yet packed and am now panicking that I should have been packing in December. The only solution I have is that you come over right now and help me!! Doors open!!

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime #triballove

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  16. Haha! I haven’t braved any large cities with the children yet either but I can imagine most of this happening! Sorry my comments are late. My grandmother died last week and was tough to get round to doing them. Thanks for making me smile 🙂 #bigpinklink

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  17. Well done for featuring on big pick link! I must have missed this! Love the hassle he must have caused and the embarrassing looks. So cute 😀

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