1. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Ghost Tower

    So, anybody been to Britain?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Gonissa, Feb 19, 2012.

    Specifically the London area. I don't know too much about it, but if possible I want to get more specific, personal information about what it's like to live there and what sort of environment the general populace is. Like for example, where I live people are sort of relaxed, but they drive crazy-like. Also, what are some good hangouts for nerdier or computer-type people?

    Register to remove this ad

  2. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,522
    Likes Received:
    85
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    I think you mean 'anybody been to England' ;)
    I have lived and worked in England and N. Ireland, and visited Wales and Scotland many times. There are several Londoners on this forum, I think.

    I think we have mentioned here before that different areas of London have different types of people living there, some areas are much more affluent than others, etc. Some areas are densely-populated, whereas others are quiet, e.g. my uncle lives in Leyton, E. London--it has many small houses with well-tended gardens and is centred around a church and green so it's like a village.

    Tell us what type of person you want to portray (job, income, background etc), and we can tell you where they are likely to live. Nerdy, computer-type people? It depends. If s/he works in the City but doesn't have much money, maybe they'd live somewhere in N or SE London. If they weren't bothered about a social life, they wouldn't need to live somewhere trendy and expensive. Their choice would depend on their social background more than their hobbies if they were not bothered about money. A lot of computer firms have moved from central to greater London, to places like Croydon or Bracknell.

    There is no one general environment, I'm afraid. That is why London is such a great place, although people from outside it spout the usual stereotypes about people being more unfriendly there--I never find that so, personally.
  3. The Magnan
    Offline

    The Magnan Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Messages:
    444
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Probably Earth
    I've been to london. It's busy, you got so streets bustling with people, along with the subways. Although it's not always busy. I was only there for a while, on a school trip. The point is London is one of the busiest places on earth, and there are lots of tourists.
  4. VM80
    Offline

    VM80 New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,245
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    UK
    Yeah, lots of large computer companies have their offices in the home counties. Often you'll find them in business parks. Lots of folk commute from London.

    Any other questions, post them in this thread. Although not a Londoner, I lived and studied there & still live fairly closeby.
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,395
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    along with asking people who actually live there, you should study movies that are shot in the parts of london you want to portray in your story... and also read both fiction and non-fiction books that feature the london you need to depict...
  6. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Awaiting a good story in the local pub... Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,220
    Likes Received:
    783
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Keep in mind that the correct terminology should be: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", composing of England, Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland. I refer to the poeple from the UK as 'UKers'. If I don't know, I would just ask them something like "Do you come from the UK or the Republic of Ireland" and they'll be happy to tell you.

    London has many, many different parts to it, each with its own culture, from what little I understand. There's also apparently a gang in East London. Any Londoner want to tell me? 8)

    Just thought I'd throw that out there.
  7. Jowettc
    Offline

    Jowettc New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    8
    Personally, I think writing about a place you have never been to is not going to work.
    Why? Well, firstly, despite the best descriptions you can ever get from someone - you are still likely to make quite an obvious mistake somewhere along the line which a real londoner will see right through e.g. whether Oxford Street does indeed have alleyways running off it in north-south or east-west. Sure you might goggle map that, but what about the graffitti under Grey Friars Bridge? What about the skateboard park on the south bank under the NFT? You won't find them on google maps.
    Secondly, there are many personal things about London you would only learn by being there. I lived and work extensively in and around central London for five years and I have some vivid memories that paint a picture for me...the crush on the subway, the way the wind rushes through the stations when the train approaches, the 'busking spots' all marked out, the way london smells at night, the way the mood of the city shifts during the day, the garbled languages of tourists and so on...

    A city, a bar, a house...these are all places with character. You wouldn't write a story about a living person if you didn't know them, I hope, so I wouldn't advise setting a story in an actual place that you have not seen. I don't think it will come across as believable. My advice - make up a large city and then you can paint it in whatever way works to fit your story.
  8. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    Well, maybe I will write about it, maybe I won't. I'm asking for that primary reason, to see if London is a good place to set a story for what I have in mind. And no, for this story I can't go crazy making up fake places. It has to be real. I mean, I do have one city set up, but it's placed in California to ground it in reality.

    Basically, I want to know about the English people. What are they like? Perhaps someone could describe a specific story about meeting a Londoner, as that would provide more information than saying "Brits are like so-and-so". While I do plan on looking elsewhere, books can be so dry when talking about places. They'll go on and on about population, political parties, and exports, but won't say bull about the spirit of the place. I'm just looking for personal information.

    Perhaps I should list it like this.
    1. Have you met a Brit? What was he like?
    2. Are you a Brit? Do you like where you live?
    3. What is a place (bar, museum, b&b, somebody's house, etc) you've been to in Britain, and did you like it?
  9. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,522
    Likes Received:
    85
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    For a start, we travel on the underground in London. A 'subway' is just a tunnel which we use to get from one side of a busy road to another. Unless you mean a big tunnel like the Blackwall Tunnel. And there is a big west/east cultural divide in London, and another 'south of the river' divide when you think about the different areas in the city. And 'the City' means the financial centre around the Bank of England...

    Edit: Please stop calling us 'Brits'. I am English, not British. A Scottish person is just that, not British. etc.
  10. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    Uh...what? I don't follow. Are you trying to say only the Scottish are British?
  11. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,522
    Likes Received:
    85
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    I'm trying to say that we hardly ever use the term British. We are usually English, Scottish, Welsh, or Irish/Northern Irish. The only people who might use 'British' are those who don't have ties to one particular country. It's used politically as a generic term to refer to the whole amalgum, like 'British Asian' or 'The Brit Awards' (or on a passport) or by trendies trying to make it a popularly acceptable term. It isn't, yet.

    You were asking about Londoners, i.e. mostly English people, not everyone who lives anywhere in the British Isles. There is such a huge variation between the different regions, let alone countries, that asking 'Have you ever met a Brit(ish) person?' is just plain comical, and meaningless. You should have an area in mind. It's like saying 'Have you ever met a European?'
  12. prettyprettyprettygood
    Offline

    prettyprettyprettygood Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
    468
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    I think of myself as British, but that's because my mam is Welsh and she always kicked off if I said I'm English so I've been conditioned that way :p


    You might find some useful info in this recent thread about Londonness http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=50143. If nothing else you'll see the English penchant for examining minutiae :)
  13. Jeeves
    Offline

    Jeeves New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York City
    When I was there I was staying in Camden Town. Being from New York, I can only compair that area to Greenwich Village. We bounced around various areas in London the days when we were in town and I do remember being struck by three things. I never saw any homeless people. The Underground is emmaculate ( compared to the New York Subway) and finally, I had my backpack stolen from right under my nose while eating lunch.
  14. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,648
    Likes Received:
    87
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    I go there quite a lot. Actually living down that way at the moment. London is a big place. It might as well be a country in its own right.

    What district or borough of it were you looking for, and what is the social background of any characters you wanted to locate there? That will help narrow it down.

    If you need some pictures of any particular boroughs, districts, or landmarks, I can get some. As I said, I go there quite a lot (weekly) on random night-time trips. There's bound to be less blurry ones online, though ;)
  15. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel doctor-cum-writer Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,096
    Likes Received:
    1,460
    Location:
    IoW
    I am sorry to say but I think you will end up with very little useful information. You want to set a story in a place you've never been to, about people you have never met, and yet there are millions of them, all of which would be able to tell real from fake.

    These three questions are completely useless, you are asking about one of the busiest places on Earth, with so much culture, both ancient an modern, traditional and multicultural. Answers to those questions will not give you even vaguely enough material to actually write about the UK at least competently.

    When I want to set my story in a place I've never been to, I choose a time period either in the past or in the future, the point is, nobody living will have first hand memory of it. And then, I spend months researching it, thoroughly, mostly on Google and from the books. First hand accounts are only useful once you know your subject really well.

    That's my 2 cents, anyway, best of luck with your story.
  16. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Awaiting a good story in the local pub... Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,220
    Likes Received:
    783
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I agree, 100%!

    OP, the questions you've given will not give you everything you need to fully write about characters in London. I mean, I've taken two courses in British history, have watched a bit of Doctor Who, have read a series of memoirs by a veterinarian from Yorkshire, England...read Harry Potter and a few books set during the Napoleonic Wars, but I'm nowhere close to fully writing from the perspective of someone from the UK/London.

    You have to really, really be there to experience it, as far as I can tell.


    As for stories set in history? True, no one from 1863 Gettysburg will be alive to tell me otherwise should I get facts wrong in an eventual Civil War novel I'll write; but there are plenty of historians who spend their entire lives studying this war, who will protest if I so much as name the wrong general and place him in the wrong position at the wrong time.

    Same if I were to write about the Napoleonic Wars. If I put Nelson in a battle he never fought in, there will be plenty of historians railing at me, going, "That idiot never picked up a history book!!"
  17. Dubya
    Offline

    Dubya New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ayrshire, Scotland, UK
    I am reluctant to get involved in a subject which isn't strictly relevant to the original question, but felt I had to comment on the post by modhoca. I am Scottish, and would give my nationality as Scottish, but as long as we are part of the UK, I would also consider myself British. I have absolutely no problem with being referred to as a Brit. I was quite tickled at the idea of being called a UKer (Link the Writer), I may start calling Americans USers! One reason the thread caught my eye was because in my own book, I posed a quiz question - 'How many countries are in Great Britain? (The answer is three, with four in the UK, and five in the British Isles) Re the original thread, if a Londoner (!) gave you a few details, you could probably get away with minimal background. I don't believe you have to live somewhere before you are allowed to write about it, that's what imagination and google are for!
  18. art
    Offline

    art Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,267
    Likes Received:
    114
    Yeah, I feel the same.

    I might from time to time jokingly bristle at being called British but I quite warm to it, frankly.

    I like being associated with the soulfulness of the Welsh, the intelligence of the Scots, the spunk of the Northern Irish.
  19. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex Hey there Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    7,982
    Likes Received:
    1,328
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I'm Scottish, living in England. I consider myself either Scottish or British, and have no problem with being called British - I do have a problem with being considered English however, because I'm not.
  20. topeka sal
    Offline

    topeka sal New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    6
    Sounds like your're reading textbooks (?). I think Mammamaia was referring to fiction set in London. A good novel or story will not give you population statistics, etc. It will give you the flavour, the spirit, the character of the place.

    As to your questions, I'll address bars. Firstly, people generally go to "pubs" or "clubs", though you do also come across places that refer to themselves as bars, particularly within in the last couple of decades. When going to a pub, people often choose their "local", which is the pub nearest to where they live. There, you meet the other "regulars"... you know who will be there and what to expect. You usually know the staff, too, who are often cheeky (insulting in a jokey way), as are your friends.

    "Meeting for a pint" after work is also a common practice.

    Younger, more urban folks will go to clubs --or "go clubbing"-- especially on weekend nights (though not exclusively by any means). Clubs are usually glitzy places with dancing. Very crowded. The music is so loud you can't hear the people speaking next to you. Binge drinking is epidemic and at some point you will see people staggering around, throwing up in the streets, fighting. In Newcastle (which is known as a party town--or "toon" as it's affectionately called) you get men and women peeing in the streets (going for a wee-wee or a slash). The clubbing scene in Newcastle is actually pretty tawdry, IMO. Women in heels too high to walk in, hobbling on cobble stones, and wearing dresses that leave nothing to the imagination. Of course... I'm an oldy! So I've got my biases! :)

    Certain upscale parts of London may not have as tawdry a club scene as what I'm describing above. Newcastle is a pretty rough town. But as people have said, it all depends on which city you're in and then which section. For instance, a town like Croydon (south of London) will be much rougher than some of the posher areas of central London.

    Hope this helps a bit.
  21. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,395
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, i was, topeka... thanks for the clarification!
  22. Agatha Christie
    Offline

    Agatha Christie New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2012
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    5
    Hi. I was born and bred in London and worked in the centre. One of the useful comments given here is that different areas are very different. When I last went down to the centre of London about a year ago, (I now live in the Lake District in the north of England) It was very cosmopolitan, many different nationalities. Some areas, especially East/ North East London,are quite poor, while other areas such as Hampstead, Mayfair, Kensington, are very wealthy. You could try looking on Google Earth to get a better look at different areas of London. One thing you would notice is that no-one talks to each other on public transport. Remember English people, Londoners included, constantly talk about the weather, because it is so variable from day to day, and they like to moan about the state of our transport system, eg. delays on the tubes, crowded buses and of course traffic hold ups in the rush hour. This applies particularly to the working population of course. Londoners who work and travel daily have developed a 'long suffering' attitude. They complain but there's nothing they can do about many things, just complain to each other. Also, few people know all the people in the street where they live. They may know their next door neighbour. A lot of the London population is transitory. People come into London from other parts of the the UK maybe to work for a while before returning to their hometown. Others would like to get out of London and live somewhere more rural or suburban but get stuck, maybe for money or work reasons. If you've got plenty of money you can enjoy London theatres, restaurants etc. but if you have average or low income, you are unlikely to frequent theatre,opera, ballet etc. very often even if you would like to.
  23. Bencameron
    Offline

    Bencameron New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    First time I went to London I was amazed by how big everything was. Not only the buildings, but I'd never seen a double decker bus before. Every corner you go around you see something interesting. Whether it be the Queen's bank or the London eye. There's the classic unique London taxis everywhere!
  24. Dubya
    Offline

    Dubya New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ayrshire, Scotland, UK
    London has generally low-rise buildings, even 'The City' doesn't compare to New York for sky scrapers, and a thing which struck me the first time I visited it was in the evening, from any hill, all you see as far as the horizon in every direction is lights. The scale of the place is awesome. Also, at the moment, the eastern outskirts are dominated by new, (sometimes quite spectacular), stadia for this years olympics. Very impressive.
  25. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    Well, I didn't know that! Thanks for the enlightenment. :)

    To those of you who seem to think I'm not doing research on England, please chill out. I want to ask real people first, that way I can have accounts of London and such that are personal. There are so many things that a book thinks is important about a place, but I want to know what people think is important. Heck, I just want general knowledge on the subject, based on whatever you want to offer me so that I know what's really important to look up. Thanks to all the people that have answered my questions. To those that haven't, please consider that I'm just fishing for knowledge, hoping to catch something big and juicy to run with.

    I guess if you want something specific, how's the gamer life in London? I'm under the impression there's a fair number of gamer geeks over there.
Similar Threads: anybody been
Forum Title Date
Setting Development What if WW2 had been won by Germany? Feb 18, 2014
Setting Development Anyone live in/been to/comes from Bucharest, Romania? Mar 18, 2013

Share This Page