I am a Londoner. Not born and bred, but a decade in the making, trained before that in the nooks of my green and faintly disapproving England.
Things I Understand
1. Queueing with minimal complaint.
2. The necessity of tea (and also cake).
3. Commuting and how to avoid the sweaty armpits of businessmen.
4. Biscuits. They do not come with gravy.
5. Walking at top speed, even to the corner shop.
6. Corner shops.
7. One should always carry an umbrella.
8. Which side of the escalator is for standing and which for walking.
9. Bus lanes and the pointlessness of cars.
10. Days in the office and evenings in the pub.
11. Celebrities need to pop into Tesco Metro on the way home too.
12. A postcode can tell you a lot about a person.
13. It will take you precisely an hour to reach any destination on the map of Greater London.
14. Never to look a human being in the eye.
15. The closest cafe will always have bland sandwiches.
16. You can get to work faster if you tread on other commuters.
17. How to dress for drizzle.
18. Be accepting of chavs, lest they belt you.
19. Successful navigation of the spaghetti-like public transport system.
20. Ultra-modern stores in Victorian buildings are perfectly normal.
21. Trusting a bar to get you tiddly without drinking at home first leads to instant poverty.
22. Nobody can afford to live in Chelsea. Or the rest of London.
23. There is far too much to do and see, but this can be avoided by staring directly ahead.
24. Nothing beats the BBC, it has Doctor Who and Eastenders.
25. Taxis after midnight accept your kidney as payment.
26. If London clothing stores have anything to do with it, the 80s will never go away.
27. How to express and accept expressions of faint disapproval.
Things I Do Not Understand
1. Everything else.
Only one thing could have coaxed me from my comforting nest of bad temper and shared habits: love. Less an Ideal Husband, more an inconvenient one, I finally found my perfect mate 5000 miles from home, in the wide open spaces and clean, fresh air of Wyoming, and so deeply do I love him that I have given it all up to be by his side.
Over the last few months I have slowly closed down the chapter of my life spent as a Londoner and opted for its polar opposite: rural America. I have said goodbye to everything that makes sense to me and stepped into a parallel universe, one in which it all seems mighty similar until you take a closer look. At present I am foxed by the currency, unable to work the electricals and have no idea how to get from A to B. As a visitor, I had no need to learn the differences, it was enough to be amused by them and hand control over to Hubby. Living here will be a different matter.
Old habits die hard, particularly for the British, so this learning curve is likely to be shallow.