There are so many things about living in the United Kingdom that seem designed to make everyone back home in Australia jealous.
The requisite tourist picture of Tower Bridge or Big Ben (even while it isn’t bonging) seems purposefully designed to incite Facebook envy. When friends ask what your plans are for the day, you kind of relish saying that you might go for a walk down The Mall, or for a cheeky drink by the Thames.
The funny thing is, though, that those iconic London experiences are not the things that you miss the most when you go back home to Australia.
When I returned home for a few months over the winter, I found myself pining to come back. I wasn’t pining for Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey though. The things that I missed were far more common, and somewhat shameful.
And so, here are those alternative top 10 ‘living in London’, expat guilty pleasures that you don’t realise you miss until you’ve gone…
1. The humble ‘offie’
For a nation that often claims to be most adept at drinking alcohol, Australia just doesn’t do it as well as the Brits do.
Sure, we have massive barn-like bottle shops dedicated to the sale of a range of ways to get drunk. But try walking into a bottle shop in Australia and finding a can of Polish beer that has 10% alcohol content.
In Australia your bottle shop will always have your standard cases of Toohey’s and XXXX, however in London your local off-licence is like a mystery bag where you never know what you might find.
We could all do with a little bit of the unknown in our lives.
2. Two words: Jeremy Kyle
Most of us don’t have work organised when we first arrive in London, so before we get involved in the daily grind of life over here we typically end up becoming quite acquainted with morning television. There is one name in morning television that I miss when I am back in Australia: Jeremy Kyle.
The British talk show host constantly seems to be brimming with unbridled rage and his acidic attacks on the lifestyle of his guests is a stark welcome to ‘Broken Britain’.
3. A kebab by any other name…
To be honest, when an Australian visits their first kebab shop in London they are usually dumb-founded after receiving their order.
What is this madness? Why is this kebab not wrapped and seared under a grill? Why is there a whole chilli just sitting there in the Styrofoam container?
Over time, however, you get used to the practicality of the British kebab: you undoubtedly get more food in the Styrofoam, and you aren’t as likely to drizzle tahini down your shirt at 3am.
4. No designated drivers
The London Underground system is a wonderful creation for so many reasons: despite the Tube map looking like a bowl of spaghetti, it is actually quite simple to navigate and get anywhere in Greater London.
It is a guilty pleasure for one reason in particular, however: you can drop into the pub any time and not have to worry about who is going to drive home.
Whereas drinking must be planned in advance in public transport wasteland of Australia, an impromptu session can take place in London whenever the mood strikes and we have the Tube to thank for that.
5. The British tabloid press
In Australia, journalists are told that objectivity is one of the key ethical considerations of their profession. In the UK, it seems that the opposite is true.
The British tabloid press are brilliant in the way that they can turn the most horrible of real-world situations into a soap opera that is played out in print on a daily basis. British newspapers have no qualms about taking an opinion on the news of the day, taking aim at those that are out of favour in a concerted effort to destroy their reputation.
It is a terrible form of journalistic practice, but as popcorn entertainment it is the best.
I can’t believe that I am even saying this. The Snakebite is one of the worst forms of alcohol you could possibly indulge in, a sickening and often warm mixture of cider, beer and flavouring. It is always too foamy and on more than one occasion I’ve seen bartenders make them from the dregs of a drip tray.
The Snakebite is not a guilty pleasure because it tastes good: it is symbolic of the cheap, drunken shenanigans that often take place as a part of London life.
The Snakebite is nostalgia in a glass.
7. The Royal fever
No matter what your personal opinions are, it is considered kind of lame in Australia to be excited about the Royal family. In the UK though, it is perfectly acceptable to catch the Royal fever.
There is something embarrassing-yet-satisfying about losing yourself in the flurry of excitement outside Buckingham Palace, or joining the seething masses on the street to watch a royal procession.
The Royal fever is the perfect excuse to embrace your inner lameness.
8. Taking liberties
When you are living in the UK, the people that you meet will turn into your family. You would do anything for them because you are all in the same boat, on the other side of the world without family to fall back on.
As with your real family, however, living in the UK gives you full permission to take liberties with friends. Need somewhere to crash for a few days, maybe a week? It is a London rule that your friend has to get the couch ready. Need someone to help carry your luggage to the airport? London rule, you have to do it for your friend. Short on cash and can’t buy a beer? London rule, front your mate the cash.
Living in London is one of the few times in life that we can take liberties with our friends as if they were family, because for that moment? They kind of are.
You wouldn’t make a special trip to go to Lowe’s or Crazy Clark’s in Australia would you?
There is something alluring about the bargain pricing of things at Primark. They are often poor quality and never last more than a few wears, but there is no going past the range of things you can buy for a fiver in ‘Primani’.
I know full well that my two quid pair of thongs will wear away within a week of wandering around London, however I also know that when they do eventually break I will be back in queue at Primark buying the exact same thing.
10. The anonymity
The Australian community in London is completely debaucherous. We all know it, it is just that some of us aren’t willing to admit it.
The reason that we have a free pass to be so debaucherous is the anonymity that London provides. At home, you might be afraid of bumping into people you know, or burning bridges with people that you are forced to be friends with. Here? You can reinvent yourself on a weekly basis if you wanted to. There is always a new bar to go to, a new boy or girl to flirt with and new friends to meet.
Anonymity is power in London.
TOP IMAGE: Via Pixabay