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Guide To The United Kingdom

This is a guide to the United Kingdom.

This should prove very useful and informative if you want to visit the UK for the first time in the next few years. It contains information on small mistakes, mishaps and whoopsies that you could commit by accident, as well as how to get round them. This guide should prove to be absolutely invaluable for your trip to the United Kingdom, as if you follow these instructions, most British people won't even know that you're a foreigner!

So what are you waiting for? Get reading, and become a lovable Anglican like the rest of us.

On Arrival

There are several customs that should be followed upon landing in the UK via aeroplanes. For instance, kissing the first air stewardess you see upon disembarking is rumoured to give you good luck during your holiday - in fact, kissing the pilot of the plane will make sure of this. In the actual airport, you must be wary of the toilets - especially in Scotland, where, due to the traditional wearing of kilts on men, the symbols on the door may be the wrong way round to your thinking. Leaving via the runway, make sure that you are driving on the correct side of the road - the left in England, the right in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

On the Taxi, The Bus And The Train

There are likely to be some small differences on our public transport services, compared with what happens in your country. For instance, hailing taxis (or "cabs", as they are more commonly known) is done by standing in the centre of the road and extending your middle finger on your right hand skywards. This is not a rude gesture in England: it is only rude in American society. The taxi driver will be more than happy to pick you up then. Be careful in London for any "Hackney Carriages" that are not black - these are not fully endorsed by the London Hackney Carriage Authority, and are more than likely freelancers trying to con you out of valuable Euros. Also, a high proportion of London cabbies are homosexual - the term "Guvnor" is Cockney rhyming slang for "darling".

On the buses, be nice to the bus conductors. The Bus Union Members Group has recently had strikes over the respect that they are recieveing. Also, don't fear if you haven't got any Euros on you - all bus conductors have electronic Bureau de Changes on their person. Sitting upstairs is seriously advised on double-decker buses, as you cannot be seen clearly by the bus driver, and so you can get up to all kinds of mischief.

The trains, however, are worth avoiding if possible. Due to the old Tory government and the privatisation of the railways, the British rail network now has on average one serious crash every week. Because of this, there are a few precautions you should take. If the train begins to sway from side to side, especially when going through tunnels, then the train is likely to crash. Tuck your head inbetween your knees and hold onto the chair/knees of the person in front of you. Otherwise, there are a few other things that you may like to consider. For instance, most old trains do not ahve air conditioning, so stick your head out of the window if you really need to. Also, if you want to stop at a station that does not seem to be busy, then tug on the cord marked "Emergency" once - don't tug three times, however, as the train driver will interpret this as an emergency.

Finally, if an announcement comes through the train about leaves on the line, it means that you should leave the train immediately yet calmly.

At The Hotel

Hotels in rural areas have not changed much for thirty years. In other words, most of them will not have TV, radio, hot running water or, in some cases electricity in all rooms. However, in the major conurbations (London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Morecambe), hotels are more advanced than most foreign hotels. For instance, the Noter Hotel in Faker's Square, London has a unique lift system that goes sideways as well as up and down, so that the lift gets you directly to your door. (Prices at the Noter Hotel start at 2500 Euros a night). Be kind to the room service maids in our hotels, as they are paid piecework - the more they tidy up, the more money they get, and so a trashed up room is worth more to them than a neat, tidy room. You should also watch out for television sets in the more expensive hotels.

Due to the television licensing laws, all televisions in hotels are coin-operated (at about 50 Euros an hour). So, what you should do is find a small black rectangle at the back of the television set and insert it there - with force if necessary. Also, most hotels in the UK do not mind if you take a few mementos home with you, such as shampoo, sewing kits, soap, combs, shower curtains, bedclothes and the contents of the minibar. If you have any queries with what's going on in your hotel, pick up your phone's reciever and press the digit "9" three times.

Around London

London is a great city for sightseeing. Arriving via Inverness, you can see many famous landmarks, such as Stonehenge, the Angel of the North, and the Forth bridge, as well as pass through villages such as Winton Dale, Angus Deayton, Peckham and Wormwood Scrubs. Outside the Tower of London, you can find the famous Beefeaters - so called because they only eat beef sandwiches as part of their tradition - if you have a beef sandwich on you (although, due to the BSE, CJD and LBW crises, they are very difficult to find), give it to a Beefeater and he will gladly eat it.

Elsewhere in London, you can visit Nelson's Column (where local legend has it that hugging the base of the column will improve male fertility), Cleopatra's Needle (inside the Natural History museum as part of their fantastic "Ancient Handcrafts" exhibition) and, of course, the river Thames (which in the local London accent rhymes with "James"). The Thames is an interesting river with a varied history, as although it was used as part of the Victorian sewerage system, the water is now so fresh to drink that the Cockney's that live around there say that srinking Thames water will add years to your life. Indeed, Cockney's are everywhere in London. Many of them use rhyming slang such as "Trouble and Strife" (Wife), "Apples and Pears" (Stairs) and "Richard the Third" (Heard). For examples of the fabled Cockney accent, just watch Mary Poppins, which for an American film is extremely accurate - many Cockneys are, indeed, chimney sweeps, plumbers, electricians and other household servicemen.

However, if you soon get sick and tired, never fear - try going skiing in Norfolk, swimming in Birmingham, or just pop across the channel via the Channel Tunnel. All of these are just ten minutes away via Victoria Tube station on the Albert line.

Driving Your Car

As it has been said before, the only part of the UK where drivers drive on the left is England - Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all drive on the left. Certain other rules must be kept to, however, such as the rules at roundabouts. Going round them in a clockwise fashion, you must enter and exit them at as high a speed as is allowed by the speed limit, otherwise you could be stuck there all day.

Also to consider are "Bus Lanes" - so called because it is illegal for buses to drive down them (else they might get stuck under a low bridge or between the curb and a traffic island). If you do see a bus attempting to traverse down a bus lane, just beep your horn a couple of times and gesticulate as much as you feel appropiate.

Hard shoulders on the motorways are also a bit of a pain, as only scooters and bicycles are allowed on them. The national speed limit on the motorway is 55mph, although in Wales there is no speed limit on the motorway at all. The lane nearest the central reservation is the slow lane - no vehicles are allowed to go more than 40 mph in this lane.

Finally, here is a list of all the vehicles allowed on cycle paths: bicycles, tricycles, Segways, Sinclair C5s, motorcycles, electric wheelchairs, invalid carriages and bubble cars.

At The Pub Or Café

First of all, here is a useful rule to remember - you must sit down and wait to be served in pubs, whereas in tearooms you must get up and queue for your order. Having got that out of the way, there are several truly English meals that you must try out, such as Spotted Dick, Black Pudding, Toad-In-The-Hole and Cold Faggot Soup, as well as some fine alcoholic beverages, such as Dandelion and Burdock, Tizer, Irn-Bru and Cresta.

Of course, there is table etiquette to consider - when eating, put your fork in your left hand, with the spokes of the fork perpendicular to the edge of the table, while the knife is in the right hand, with the point of the knife pointing directly towards the centre of the table. Then, while cutting, swap hands, ensuring that the fork does not fall over and the knife does not fall in the gravy. When lifting your fork to the mouth, make sure your mouth is firmly closed, and that your little finger is extended towards the ceiling. Then put the food inside your mouth, chew it exactly three times, and swallow - perhaps with a bit of D&B to wash it down with.

Never, ever ask for the salt or pepper when at the table - instead, get up and get it yourself, even if it is at the opposite end of the table, or just out of arm's reach. For coffee, ask whether you can have some oregano to sprinkle on top of it - it will make the coffee taste absolutely delicious.

Public Amenities

Many public toilets in England are quite frankly disgusting, and you should never go near one. However, if your life (and your bowels) depends on it, then be careful. There are sixteen deadly species of spider in the United Kingdom, four of which tend to be found around sources of sewage - in other words, public toilets. Many public toilets do not have any toilet paper - this is deliberate, as you should really use sink water, as is customary in the UK.

Of course, there is much more to public amenities than toilets - there are telephone boxes, post boxes, public libraries and galleries... In particular, you must go to all of the art galleries in the area of London known as Soho - most of which are owned by a company called Peep, who use the witty name "Peep Show" to advertise theirselves and (presumably) to draw customers in under false pretences.

Telephone boxes in the UK, due to the advent of mobile phones, are now all free - however, money must be put in as a deposit. This money will be returned to your credit card if you post it to the BT Tower in mid-London. Talking about post boxes, all new post boxes are connected to a system of underground tunnels, so that your post will be recieved within two hours of you posting it.

Shopping

100 Euros is equivalent to 1, which is equivalent to US$1. In many areas of the United Kingdom, they still use the Pound Sterling, in which case you need to be careful of con-merchants that will overprice some things. If you think you are being conned, you may if you wish put the con-merchant under Citizen's Arrest (although you aren't a citizen!).

That out of the way, there are a few items of food, clothing etc. that you should be aware of. First of all is my personal favourite, Whiskas. Whiskas is a brand of tinned meat, formed in the 1970's when it was cool to call everyone "cats" - they still live up to that tradition, putting cats on the tins and referring to you as "Cats" in the adverts. Also, try out Boots for their shoes, WHSmith for their shirts and House of Frasier for their medical supplies.

The British Countryside

Understandably, due to the recent CJD, BSE and LBW outbreaks, farmers in the British countryside are a bit hard up for cash. Some of them will let you ride their livestock, while some have been forced to give their vegetables away - you can take them straight out of the fields in some places.

While in the countryside, be wary of the various bushes and long grasses - although there are no poisonous plants or berries anywhere on the island, there are over fifty poisonous snakes, spiders and ants. Meanwhile, respect the countryside code. Leave all gates open, as farmers are always using them. Do not litter on the ground, unless it is a biodegradable wrapper (crisp packets, chocolate wrappers and drinks cartons are all biodegradable).

Finally, if you are going to swim in a disused canal, don't - unless you have a snorkel, in which case feel free.