Monday, July 23, 2012

The Olympic visitor's phrasebook

July and August will see the UK spend two weeks enjoying the fruits of a £9-25 billion (depending on how you do the sums) investment in a Festival of Minor Sports. It has another name, but it is illegal to use it unless you are a multi-billionaire corporate sponsor.

Of course, very few British people will be at the events themselves, since most of the tickets are too expensive or have been promised to bureaucrats, politicians, sponsors or other apparatchiks and freeloaders, while unauthorised persons within a five-mile radius of any venue are likely to be shot with bazookas if they come near. Special measures have also been taken to ensure that the most important visitors need never see the vulgar plebs known as 'Londoners'. However, the more adventurous might find themselves dealing with the colourful patois used by the locals, so please cut out and keep this guide in order to save embarrassment:

Words and phrases you might encounter

"Welcome to London"
Sit down, shut up and empty your pockets. We'll be along to strip-search you in three hours.

"A good service is operating on all routes"
A train will arrive eventually. Probably.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you"
We can't be bothered supplying the service you've paid for. What are you going to do?

Spelt 'tube', this is London's underground railway. For the convenience of all, it stops running just before the pubs close.

Where Londoners gather before fighting each other.

Pub grub
Something wriggling in your salad.

Night bus
Mobile vomitorium

The Bill

The Fuzz

The Filth

Thinly cut potatoes, deep fried and dusted with industrial waste, known as 'chips' in the USA.

Deep-fried potato sticks, known as 'French fries' in other parts of the world, except in France, where they are unknown.

A carpenter, or a shop selling fish, mystery-meat pies and deep-fried horse penises.

A word of obscure origin, chanted in a pub before hitting a foreigner.

Yeeearsenooooo! Cheeyelseeyee! Cmonyouspurs! Meeewor!
Names of London football teams. Chanted in a pub before hitting another Englishman. Other clubs are available, but if you hear the names 'Fulham' or 'Queens Park Rangers' chanted menacingly then you have entered a surreal plane of alternative reality.

"Do what, John?"
"Pardon?", in the sense of "Say that again and I'll lamp you."


"May I help you?"
Spend some money or get out.

"Got a light?"
Give me your wallet.

Moral: The English are charming when sober, whenever that is.

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