I am in a boozer in bootiful downtown Greenwich and I have just ordered a pint of Guinness. The barman, of indeterminate origin but probably Polish, hunts around for the correct branded pint glass with some difficulty, but eventual success. I quip, "I don't care what it looks like, so long as it holds a pint". Of course, he misunderstands, thinking apparently that I am querying/complaining about the fact that he is pulling the pint from a different tap than last time, and apologizes with some placatory remark about "it's all coming from the same system".
A totally trivial episode. But it grinds you down, the steady loss of the shared culture in London, as we all become foreigners in a shared locus, a shared terra nullius
. When was the last time you could walk into a pub or a shop in the cold weather and make some casual remark about brass monkeys with the certainty that the comment would be understood and appreciated as part of the common linguistic culture?