Thursday, 15 October 2009
The English Pub
These are, of course, renowned the world over as places to get to know the local people. To ensure a pleasant evening's drinking, follow these tips:
Select your pub carefully. The best pubs are those in the inner cities, around some of the least salubrious housing. The people here cannot afford to go out, so pubs in these districts are full of upper-crust Englishmen who travel here in their Bentley cars to get away from the hustle and bustle of country pubs.
Mix with the locals. These "toffs" often put on a coarse accent after a glass or two of beer; do not be intimidated, they are resting their throats after talking "posh" all day. They will be glad to play Eton college word-games: "Get Up, That's My Seat", "You look a puff-to-me!" and "Is-she-for sale?" Call out one of these games to any large chap, and have fun.
Order your drinks carefully. Bartenders are notoriously dishonest (indeed, they are proud of this tradition, and enjoy having their "leg pulled"). If you order a spirit drink, they will pour a little into your glass; insist on it being topped up to the brim. When tasting your first sip of beer, exclaim that there must be water in it. They will admire you for your candour, and will offer to buy you a drink "on the house". Pubs that sell "real ale" are attempting to emulate Budweiser beer; let the landlord know where he is going wrong. He will be very grateful for advice from an American.
"Darts" is a common pub game. Your opponent will throw darts at the circular board - your object is to pull them out faster than he can throw them. If you see a game in progress, reserve your place by rubbing out all the numbers on the blackboard.
It is common to find pool tables in pubs. Beware, they are not playing to American rules! To join a game of pool already in progress, simply pick up one of the cues provided, walk to the table, and quickly cue the black ball into the nearest pocket. You are now in the game. The object is to pot all your balls as quickly as possible without disturbing the white. Don't be disheartened if you miss a shot; quickly move on to the next. You score extra points for "blocking" your opponent's attempts to shoot, using your hands.
Remember that free snacks, such as crisps and peanuts, are kept behind the bar to retain freshness. For goodness' sake, don't let them "rip you off" by demanding money!
At about 11 o'clock, it is traditional for the barpeople to call the game of "time", leave their posts and wander around the pub, shouting at people. Do not be alarmed - they may sound like they want you to leave, but in fact the reverse is the case. English pubs close after dawn, and the staff are shouting to stimulate drinkers to continue spending their money. The object of this game is to remain where you are! To ensure you don't get thirsty during this period, buy a few rounds just before 11 o'clock (it's a slow time for the staff, so use this opportunity to chat). Drink slowly. You'll have ample opportunity to catch up when the barman returns to his post.
When you do leave the pub, you are likely to find a small crowd of happy revellers outside, singing traditional songs as they await their chauffeurs. This is known as "chucking-out time" The ladies in these crowds are sad and lonely; why not ask the male chaperones if their lady friends would like to come back to your hotel? Offer to make them very happy. The men will probably ask you to discuss the pedigree of their charges in the privacy of the pub car park.
I'm looking forward to this at a local near me