How To Live in London

Dear Sara Bynoe, circa September 2008

You have just moved to London, England to do a MA in Creative Writing. You’ve sold practically everything you own and packed up to live a new adventure. First off you deserve a BIG HUG, that was brave. Now, I want to tell you some things you’ll wish you’d known about living in London.

How to Live in London

1. When you first arrive take the bus everywhere. Do this for a week. Heck, you’ve got a monthly bus pass- get good used of it and learn the city! If you only take the tube you’ll pop up in random places and it will take you five months to understand that Covent Garden is a five minute walk from Leicester Square.

Also, learn what night buses go to your area and where you can get them from. This will save you strife as well as your social life.

2. The Royal Festival Hall is the best place to work for free outside of your home. Get a membership – it’s only £45. Either go here or the British Library. Cute British boys that read hang out there!

3. See more shows. Get on mailing lists and go to the cheap shows. This will help you a) network b) make friends c) get out of your head. Places you will come to love are: SOHO Theatre, Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club, The BFI, The Book Club Boutique (although you were there at it’s inception), Foyles Bookshop on Charring Cross Road has some great events also Shunt in London Bridge – (RIP, it was good while it lasted, even though it smelled like the Plague).

4. Start Teen Angst Night and Dance Dance Party Party in London. If you don’t others will do it after you move away.

5. Take better care of your back. Do not go to an osteopath. Pay the money and go to a physiotherapist. Also, if you cry in your GPs office they will send you for an MRI.

6. Just drink more. Apparently it’s the only way to date in the UK. Sorry, this sucks, I know. Or maybe find an AA group, if that even exists in the UK. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t drink there.

7. Travel. Go to Greece and Italy. Things wont be so good there after you leave the UK. Trust me.You also should go to Egypt for Christmas.

8. Get a job. You’ll grow roots, make friends and have money to spend. Check out this store Hobbs, they have a fantastic line called NW3 styled after Hampstead Heath in the 60s. You might be able to get a discount.

9. Be careful in Edinburgh the first time, especially in Opium, especially around short blond girls. Also, the guy you meet the first time you visit that bar is very cute, but he wants a wife … and kids … in the next year.

10. People do not talk to each other on the tube. They might talk to strangers on the bus. If you’re on the overland you are fair game – be careful who you make eye contact with.

11. Clapham really isn’t your scene. Move to East London.

12. Argos is your friend. Really, delivery is your friend. You wont believe what you can get delivered to your house!

13. If you hang out between Oxford Street and Carnaby Street the BBC will ask you questions and you’ll get to be on TV.

14. The best coffee in town is at Monmouth. There’s one in Borough Market and one in Covent Garden. Frequent them.

15. Borough Market is amazing for food. Go on a week day to avoid the Saturday rush.

16. Enjoy everything London has to offer. There are so many things to see, museums to visit, plays to watch, bands to listen to, conversations to speak and people to meet. If you ever dare say you are bored in London, well then, you’re a twat and you don’t deserve to live there.

Luckily, you will never do that.

Enjoy it, it wont be your city forever.


Future Sara – circa 2011

View from my favorite pedestrian bridge in London. Know it? Leave your guess in the comments.

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