Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as 'Pubs'

Volunteer Work for CAMra

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

Volunteer Blog Complete Schedule

For my volunteer project I wrote three articles for Norfolk CAMra, or the Campaign for Real Ale. The organization works to promote real ale in pubs and support local breweries. I spoke with a representative of the organization and we decided that doing pub reviews would be helpful for their magazine entitled ‘Norfolk Nips.’

March 21st 19:45-21:00 at Warren Wordsworth’s House in Norwich
We talked about the nature of my project and what sort of writing was possible for Norfolk Nips, I explained my credentials and my willingness to write on any topic and we finally decided that pub reviews would be good for the magazine. The way in which Warren invited me into his home, on his free time, to discuss the idea really speaks to his personal commitment to his organization, as well as to the organization’s effort as a whole. He was genuinely excited to talk about the articles and it appeared that having a young person interested in the real ale movement was very important to him. It is a testament to the pride that Norwich has in its local businesses (specifically pubs and breweries of course).
Total Hours 1:15
April 11th 12:30-13:30 in my room in Norwich.
Planning my route and reading pub reviews to decide which three pubs would provide nice diverse articles and could be walked to in a reasonable time.
TH 2:15
April 11th 14:30-20:00 Between Trafford Arms Pub, The Plough, The White Lion
Hour spent taking notes on pubs appearance, wine and beer selection, meal selection and sampling one real ale in each(which I review in my article). This was a very nice experience because I visited pubs which people from the city, rather than the university, regularly attend. In analyzing the pubs I visited I came to appreciate the businesses and the effort they are making to keep business local and provide Norwich with comfortable social gathering places. I had extended conversations with locals for the first time this year I believe, and it was a very enjoyable experience. My friends and I met some people we hope to see again at the White Lion, as we talked for over an hour and even went to a kebab shop together afterwards.
TH 7:45
April 25th 10:00-10:30 in Ancy Le Franc, Burgundy
I brought the Norfolk Nips current issue with me and studied it to figure out the sort of length my project should be and also in order to determine what my articles should contain to have value to the magazine. That is, what information will be pertinent as well as unique.
May 5th, 13:45-15:30 in Eurostar Terminal Gare Du Nord, Paris.
Reviewing notes, creating outline. Wrote description of the Plough and Trafford arms. Decided on main concepts of Trafford Arms article- that it is formal, fine and has highish prices and not the best beer selection.
May 5th 18:00-20:30 on Norwich to London train (delayed between Stowmarket and Diss)
Wrote much of White Lion article in journal. Reviewed the beer I tried and gave detailed description. Determined some research to be done.
May 6th 16:30-18:30 in my room
Devised format for articles—4 sections. 1- structure and appearance of pub 2-commentary on structure as it applies to the focus of the pub 3- beer selection including locality, price and variation, real ales and amount of gravity/pump beers, etc 4- Other major offering of the pubs including hot food and other drinks, what that says about the pub 5- review of the beer which I tried. Also wrote rough draft of Trafford Arms article.
May 7th 15:00-23:00 (with a half hour dinner break in between) in my room
Editing, transferring work from notebook to laptop, writing Plough article, finishing each article and putting into proper format, researching beer locality and reading up on websites for additional information. Writing the ‘other’ section of each article, writing about the bar location and what that means for a pub, etc etc etc.
TH 22:00

My work with CAMra actually doesn’t stop now. I’m going to write an article about the ‘City of Ale’ festival in late May and Warren and I have spoken about a continued correspondence, in which I write articles about local beer movements in my area, when I return to the states, provided my articles are liked.

The main website for Norwich CAMra.

Check this out for awards winning pubs and ales if you are interested.

Tags: Pubs

Get It?

September 21st, 2010 · No Comments

For academic purposes I frequented a variety of pubs during my stay in London. In this time I noticed that small decisions made by the management go a long way in determining the atmosphere of a pub. At a favorite of mine, The Rocket, on Thursdays they lower the price of all their shots and have specials on mixed drinks and bottled beer. It was no surprise that on the two Thursdays in which I went to the Rocket we encountered a bunch of young people, in one case a large group of American Freshmen. At another pub I went to, there were no specials and no pitchers. There were, however, a lot of nice beers from around the world and on every table. The clientele, therefore, was mostly older men and was much quieter. I had another varied experience at The Bank of England. The difference in this pub was the high ceilings and grand décor. (Hardly a small decision I realize, but still.)  The atmosphere in this pub was definitely classier, and the high ceilings gave off a feeling that, despite the amount of people in the pub, one was never crowded.

One thing I noticed about the pubs was the lack of traditional pub games. I haven’t seen any darts and only been to one pub with pool. Pool was sweet though, despite a crushing defeat that I suffered at the hands of a girl. The only time I’ve ever lost to a girl throughout the entire course of my illustrious life.

Here’s another thought for you. I hate pubs/bars with loud pumping music and no dance floor. What is the point! To make conversation impossible and awkward?

I find Orwell’s remarks on pubs to be quite accurate as well. I find the idea that the perfect pub is impossible to find ties in well with my previous idea about atmosphere. It may be the one coherent thread in this post. For, you see, in my mind, the perfect pub would be both chill and cheap. But these two things are mutually exclusive! Because if the prices are cheap then lots of rowdy people will come and be drunk and order lots of shots and you’ll get that annoying loud atmosphere that completely clashes with the chill one that is ideal. And there you have it folks.

Tags: 2010 Michael · Pubs

Watching an Arsenal Game at the Rising Sun

September 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments

Of all of the pubs which I frequented during my one month stay, the Rising Sun was my favorite.  Now, you might ask why I would be interested in going to this tiny pub with limited outdoor seating, and frankly food which was lacking in sophistication and cooking skills.  Seriously, Dave got frozen peas with his Fish n’ Chips.  And the answer is, of all of the pubs I went to during a football match, the clientele at the Rising Sun were the only ones that I saw as being truely interested in the games at hand.  And I think that the smaller atmosphere of this pub actually facilitated this.

Tonites game was Tottenham Hotspur versus Arsenal.  From the reactions of the pubgoers to each of Arsenal’s four goals against the Spurs, they were vastly Arsenal fans.  When an Arsenal player was fouled as he brought the ball through the penalty box, the fans were outraged.  And the exitement of the sucessful penalty kick got the entire pub cheering afterwards.

During the second fifteen minute half of the extended time period, the fans would also cheer as a group whenever an Arsenal player gained possession of the ball or stole it from a Spurs player.  For example, if the Arsenal player avoided losing posession, a large contingent of the pubgoers in front of the bar would exclaim say “OHHHHHH!” in unison.  This actually reminds me quite a bit of the reaction towards gaining possession during football games at the sports bar I go to back home.  At many of the other bars, it seemed that the football matches on the flatscreens were more of an afterthought, and most of the customers were ignoring them.  However, that may be because Arsenal wasn’t playing in those games.

If you want good food and an excellent selection of beers and spirits, go to the Jack Horner.  The food is quite a bit more expensive than the other pubs, but the Fish and Chips are some of the best that I have had throughout my stay in London (and that is many a fish n’ chips).  I would also recommend trying the Fullers ESB.  Another favorite pub of mine was the court, mainly because they served Everards Tiger, an ale with light coffee notes.

Tags: 2010 Tyler · Pubs · Uncategorized

“Pubs,” or, failing that, “What the Hell Can I Say That 25 Other People Haven’t?”

September 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments

Before I delve into in analysis of the pubs I’ve experienced in our short month here, I thought I’d start with my two favorite English pub moments. Then I’ll follow up with what I didn’t like, what I did, and a response to Orwell.

First, this evening while watching Tottenham-Arsenal at The Rising Sun, I was involved in the following exchange with an Arsenal fan we had been talking on and off for ~30 minutes:
“Hey, could you guys watch our bags while we go out for a smoke?”
“Yeah, sure, no problem.”
(in a patronizing voice) “Aw, see how nice these Americans are, looking out for us.”
“I mean, we’ve been doing it since World War 2.”
“That’s true, but if you don’t mind me saying so, you could have started earlier, we lost a lot of good coats and bags.”

Second, at the Punch & Judy in Covent Garden (where we ended up leaving sans drink due to logistical challenges) I was the only one in a group of five Americans to get carded. I was relentlessly mocked for this. I’ll remember this moment when we’re 40 and you all look 60, guys. Anyway, now for the actual analysis.

1) What I liked: the beer itself, the soccer, the aesthetics. It seems like an oversimplification of the question, but I honestly feel like it makes a difference in responding to pubs being “the center of British sociability.” In America, where the beer at bars (in my limited experience) sucks, it creates an atmosphere of just trying to get drunk. But if the beer is good, if you can genuinely just sit back and enjoy a pint, that becomes an end in of itself rather than just a means to get drunk and whatever that entails. Another thing that I was a major fan of was that physical beauty was valued at some pubs. While I agree with Mary that the Bank of England isn’t perfect, I was blown away by the architecture and thoroughly enjoyed the torches out front.

2) What I didn’t like: the naked corporate-ness. The menu, down to the font, was exactly the same at the Marlborough Arms/Rising Sun and Court/Rocket respectively. By itself, I don’t care about the menu thing. Pub food stinks no matter where you go. But somewhere deep inside, it bugged me that these pubs were just part of a syndicate and made no attempt to hide it. While on the topic of those four pubs, I simultaneously loved and hated the Rocket and Court. I enjoyed the vibe, the American music, and frankly feeling at home (each time we went to The Rocket, we bumped into a different group of American college students studying abroad). But I hated that I was essentially cheating on England in these places, that they were sucking the Britishness out of the pub for a few American dollars.

3) Orwell’s Ten Commandments of Pubs:
1. draught stout
2. open fires
3. cheap meals
4. a garden
5. motherly barmaids
6. no radio, no loud drunks, games secluded
7. children are allowed
8. china mugs
9. sells tobacco
10. Victorian architecture

It’s not my style to rip somebody, but George Orwell needs to be ripped for this article. Right off of the bat, Nos. 7 and 9 don’t fly with me. I hate tobacco, and because my summer job (which I do love) involves children, one could argue that at times the very purpose of going to the pub would be to get away from kids. Usually, using personal preferences to counter an argument means that your own argument is fairly weak. But in this case, it illustrates why I refuse to put “The Moon Under Water” on a pedestal: all Orwell describes is his personal preferences. There is a pub in London for everyone’s own particular peccadilloes, and in most cases, none is inherently superior to another; it’s just a question of personality.

Tags: 2010 Dennis · Pubs

On Pubs

September 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments

If memory serves me correctly, most of my drinking escapades were never in formal settings. They took place under bridges, along the banks of a river, in empty parking lots, always with an intimate group of friends (this isn’t as sketchy as it sounds). So the bar/pub is fairly foreign to me. In any case, I’ve been pleased with the pubs I’ve visited so far. Most of them, like the Rising Sun and Marlborough Arms, were fairly crowded. I don’t mind a clustered environment, but it tends to grate on me after a while. Like Dave, I too prefer a more relaxed setting. One thing I’ve noticed is that pubs here aren’t the most ideal venue in which to meet new people. People either come alone or in groups, thus drawing the lines of social contact. I’ve never stayed long enough in an American bar to note, but from what I’ve seen, read, and heard, bars in America ARE ideal places for meeting people you don’t know; my friend the other day told me she met her boyfriend at a bar. The bar may not be the classiest place to meet your future wife, but the ease in which one can strike up a conversation with another person speaks to the relatively loose social barriers of Americans. I’ve hardly perceived this in Londoners.

As others have noted, its confusing where the queue for drinks begin. The bartender, however, always seems to know the order. So long as I have my drink, I’m fine.

Public drinking isn’t illegal in Korea, which may explain why I’ve been a bit uncomfortable in pubs. I much prefer sipping from a can of beer or trading shots of soju (korean staple alcohol) at a park rather than entering a pub. Yeah, I said I was pleased with the pubs here, but that doesn’t mean I like them. Perhaps the exception is the King’s Crown, a pub just off of Tottenham. Dave and I stumbled onto it and after a pint, found it to be quite exceptional. Quite and subdued, King’s Crown has none of the boisterousness of the more popular pubs. But that’s just me. Hopefully Norwich will have more pubs like King’s Crown.

George Orwell speaks of the pub of his dreams as having a garden, partitioned spaces, a warm fireside, and mellow atmosphere; a pub in which the oner knows his customers by name. In short, a personal pub. That is my type of pub, I think, as it seems to match my temperament. A place where you can retire into the night, warm and relaxed. Yes, such a pub may not exist, but if King’s Crown was any indication, there just may be one out there.

Tags: 2010 Sean · Pubs

I’m with Orwell: Finding the Ideal Pub

September 21st, 2010 · No Comments

As I read George Orwell’s article, I became increasingly interested in where this charming pub, The Moon Under Water, could be found. I will admit I was disheartened when I learned the pub did not actually exist. Nevertheless, I came to understand Orwell and his inability to find his “perfect” pub. I haven’t had extensive experience with pubs here in London, but after evaluating the ones I have visited, I can say I haven’t yet found my favourite pub either.

In regards to the location of the pubs, I have ventured into both the obvious pubs positioned glaringly on busy main streets and the more inconspicuous pubs situated off the beaten path in quieter areas. Like Orwell, my ideal pub is located on a side street where “drunks and rowdies [will] never seem to find their way” (The Moon Under Water, Orwell). The Marlborough Arms, which is just around the corner from the Arran House, is a local sort of pub that offers the intimate atmosphere where a mix of university students and middle-aged regulars can enjoy some privacy as they socialize over a few drinks. The bartenders are friendly (they offered a friend a free drink since her food arrived late) and the owner is also good-humored and amicable.

The Marlborough Arms Pub on Torrington Place, off of Gower Street

The clientele of a pub is also a significant factor in finding a great pub. There are pubs that seem to attract younger crowds, like The Court on Tottenham Court Road. It appeals to young adults mainly because of their young, attractive bartenders, booming beats, and prominent location. It’s a fun setting if you’re in the mood to deal with a jam-packed, noisy pub. Honestly, it reminds me more of a college party scene than anything else. I don’t want to find a number of other American students at the same pub! Another sort of clientele I’ve noticed some pubs gear toward is a tourist. The Rising Sun, also on Tottenham Court, does not seem to follow the normal English pub rules. Their staff seems to have adapted to serving foreigners since, for one, they have waiters who will cater to you as you sit at a table. I prefer the traditional English pub experience where one must go up to the bar to buy food, a round, or to discreetly tip the bartender—just as Kate Fox explains in Watching the English.

The Court Pub on Tottenham Court Road

Another topic Orwell brings up in regards to pubs is the selection of food and drinks. Unfortunately, I have not come across a pub that combines great food and drinks with my ideal pub environment. The ambience at the Marlborough Arms is great—decent music, some noise, a match playing on the telly, friendly patrons, some privacy and comfort—, but the food is mediocre, in my opinion. Moreover, I have had better drinks served elsewhere. Like, for example, the great menu at The Cock a few blocks off of Oxford Street. I agree with Orwell that the quality of food is important for a pub. Superior food and a good selection of drinks add to its comfort and distinctiveness.

Speaking of distinctiveness, I also think it’s important that a pub distinguishes itself from other pubs. As Orwell stated, he enjoys pubs with gardens and he only knows of three that possess them. Moreover, he covers in detail the architectural layout of his ideal pub, The Moon Under Water. Not that I have discovered my preferred “look” of a pub, I have recognized that I like pubs that express some sort of distinction from the rest. My ideal pub should definitely stand out. It could attain this through its architecture, its garden, or even just its quirky name, like The Moon Under Water.

The Old Bank of England Pub on Fleet Street

Sure, I hope to sometime pick a favourite pub, but I also don’t mind exploring all sorts of pubs and their disparate clientele, atmospheres, food and drink selections, patrons, and quirks. In the end, each pub is different; I just have yet to find that one “great” pub. It’s not The Old Bank of England Pub on Fleet Street—a high-class pub near the legal courts that had potential to be the favourite—so maybe I will stumble upon it in Norwich.

Tags: 2010 Mary · Pubs

Beer- Not My Cup of Tea

September 21st, 2010 · No Comments

I really don’t have anything academic or insightful to say about pubs, so I’ve been holding off on this post. I haven’t visited too many pubs in London because there were other things that I wanted to do instead, like going to see various theatre shows. I also don’t like beer, so the discovery of cider has been a lifesaver. I’ve been to quite a few pubs for lunch, actually, which is a completely different experience than going for drinks at night. In the afternoon the pubs aren’t nearly as crowded, but I felt like more suspicion fell on me as an Outsider then. The room is quiet enough that my American accent is very apparent, and everyone can hear my akward attempts to order food and, in the beginning of our trip, to count out the proper change. I don’t know all of the social cues yet (not that the British are very helpful in this aspect), and I feel like people definitely watch me and judge that. This might be a bit paranoid, granted, but I clearly don’t belong, and it can be an uncomfortable experience.

This contrast really comes to mind when I think of The Court–I went once for lunch and once for drinks with a large group. At lunch everyone could hear us as we debated the menu, and the bartender looked at me as if I was an idiot when I said, “Can I please try…” I’m sorry, I worked in retail for three years, and it’s hard to break that false cheerfulness during cash register interactions. But when I went back at night, the atmosphere was completely different. Both floors were crowded, there was loud music playing, and there was much more energy about the place. I really liked The Court for that type of outing–I wanted to have fun with my friends and drink a little more than I needed to, and I feel like The Court offered a really comfortable atmosphere for that. There were so many young people there that I could be sure that a) no matter how loud we got, the group next to us was drinking way more and being much louder than we were, b) someone would try to make conversation when I was waiting at the bar to order a round, c) the bartender wouldn’t have time to notice my awkwardness in ordering said round, and d) I could sing Journey at the end of the night without anyone caring, because they couldn’t really hear me. Would I like this atmosphere every night? Absolutely not. But for going out with friends, I thought that it had a really fun place.

This preference would probably make George Orwell turn over in his grave. His description of the ideal pub in “The Moon Under Water” sounds absolutely nothing like The Court. The exact opposite, in fact. I can see where Orwell was coming from, however. His pub is quiet, with good conversation and good beer served in the proper mugs. Based on what we’ve read in Kate Fox, pubs are a huge center of British culture, and it seems to be where people can go to forget what else has happened in the day and just socialize with other regulars. The familiarity becomes comforting in and of itself. For that purpose, I wouldn’t want to go to The Court either.  Maybe this is one of the reasons the English have a pub (or sometimes more) on every corner, because each pub serves a slightly different purpose and attracts a slightly different crowd.

Tags: 2010 Holly · Pubs

After A Pint, It Doesn’t Matter Where You’re From

September 20th, 2010 · No Comments

While many of my fellow students have lamented in their blogs that they feel least comfortable and most like they have to behave like the British at pubs, I feel completely the opposite.  Yes, there have been some pubs that I’ve wandered into and definitely felt like I was completely out of place but I never felt like it was because I was an American – it was almost always because of my age.  The only time I have ever just left a pub because I felt so uncomfortable was after we went to the Globe and we were by far the youngest patrons to wander into this particular pub.  Besides that one instance, my experience with pubs has been overwhelmingly positive.

I openly admit that what I know about beer and cider could fit in a teacup.  I am most definitely no connoisseur of alcoholic beverages – I know what I think tastes good and what makes me wrinkle my nose and that is about it.  This lack of knowledge has led me to become one of those people who every time they walk up to the bar to order has to ask about every single one of the items on tap.  While I thought this would probably to trying to any bartender’s patience, I have found that so long as its done in a friendly manner pub workers are happy to help me find something that my undistinguished palate will enjoy.  I experienced the pinnacle of helpful bartender at The Court on Tottenham Court Road.  The last time I was there the bartender spent ten minutes with me just figuring out what exactly I would like and even though it was incredibly busy, she did not once look impatient or try to rush me along.  While I am clearly an American and completely uneducated on the finer points of British beverages I was treated with respect and patience and is exactly why The Court has become my favorite pub.

I have visited several pubs that I quite like – the George on Fleet Street, the Marlborough Arms, and the Rising Sun, to name a few, and they all have different positive qualities to recommend themselves to me (the George has Murphy’s, the Marlborough Arms is homey and the evening bartenders are friendly and recognize regulars, and the Rising Sun has a quintessentially British atmosphere).  However, while these are all good pubs with good drinks and friendly service, they are not great.  The difference for me, as an American, is the degree to which I feel continually welcomed.  At many of the pubs there is the sense that as a patron, while I am welcome to come and enjoy myself, I have an obligation to be quiet and to stay at my table and not mingle with the other patrons.  Kate Fox points out that pubs, unlike American bars, are not places to go meet new people, but even the possibility of accidentally interacting with anyone besides who is in my group is terrifying at most of the pubs I have been to.  And this fear is not reserved for me as an outsider – other English people are terrified to interact with their neighbors, even if it is an interaction as small as trying to fit through a small space to get to the counter.  At the Marlborough Arms I have seen patrons walk 15 feet out of their way to avoid asking people to scoot their chairs in 3 inches to get to the bar.  This is what makes The Court so unique.  Maybe it’s the loud American music always blasting from the speakers or the younger crowd that tends to frequent it, but The Court is a place where this “social dis-ease” is eradicated.  I do not have to live in fear of asking someone to scoot in so that I can get by (a lot of the time fellow patrons anticipate my journey by and move out of the way without prompting – a gesture that usually involves a friendly smile and a “cheers”) and where eye contact with someone I don’t know doesn’t make me a pariah.

I find pub culture absolutely fascinating and I am so sad that it took me so long to find a pub where I feel so at home.  My time in London has helped me develop an understanding of what exactly I need to do at a pub and how I ought to behave and I am hopeful that I’ll find a place in Norwich that proves to be just as friendly and light hearted as The Court.

Tags: 2010 Amy · Pubs

Pubs and Authenticity in London

September 20th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Kate Fox really raised my expectations for London pubs, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that. I expected pubs full of inside jokes and obscure ales, the kind of dark, smoky environs I can imagine Sherlock Holmes drinking in (and if Robert Downey, Jr was there, too, I wouldn’t complain).

So, after reading all the other pub posts, especially, it’s pretty clear that’s not what we found. In fact, I don’t think I went to a single pub that had genuine “regulars.” Kate Fox didn’t prepare me for impromptu American pop karaoke. She certainly didn’t tell me to develop a taste for Australian, German, Dutch, and even American beers, because there are more of those than real English ales in every pub we’ve been to. And she didn’t prepare me for waitstaff that often presupposes our touristy ignorance of British customs and acts a little confused when we offer “one for yourself.”

The Marlborough Arms - personal photo

But the thing about Fox is, she didn’t prepare me for almost anything about London. I’m not saying I haven’t had a great experience in British pubs – nights out on the town are some of my best memories. Ditto my experience in London. I’ve had a great time. But I haven’t had an authentically British experience here, just like I haven’t been to any authentically British pubs. Even the ones that feel a little more authentic – like the George or the Marlborough Arms – are just cleverly disguised franchises. Like Andrew pointed out, they all have the same menu – fish ‘n’ chips and sausage and mash, printed on faux-antique paper in calligraphy. They seem designed to give the facade of authentic Englishness, while adhering to a tried-and-true modern pub business model of franchises and imported lagers.

Again, I want to be clear that I’m not complaining about pubs or about London (although I’m glad we’re not spending the whole semester here). But when I reflect on my pub experiences, enjoyable though they have been, I don’t feel that I’ve gotten an authentic British experience, just like my time in London has felt mostly like America with accents. I’m looking forward to getting to Norwich and experiencing some more authenticity – and hopefully the kinds of pubs Kate Fox can help us out with.

Tags: 2010 MaryKate · Pubs

Rules of the Court and my favorite pub

September 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments

People have already expounded on many basic rules of pubs: go to the bar to order, know what you’re ordering before you get there, etc. For this rules section, I am going to talk a bit about the Court in particular, which many of us have frequented. There’s a snooker table upstairs (which is honestly just a pathetic imitation of billiards) that is of particular interest to me, as I love shooting pool in my basement and do so quite frequently. I noticed that people rarely went upstairs and simply took table, despite no one else playing – it would be rude to assume priority, as someone may have been thinking about starting a game and simply hasn’t gotten around to it. Only after a bit of time can one start a game. Then, once you start a game, you better get on with it. No silliness can occur, as others are now anxious to play as well. If you’re not good at snooker, then you can abbreviate your playing time by simply forfeiting the table to the next players (quite embarrassing) or by coming up with a discreet and fun way of knocking the balls in by some other means than the typical cue-to-cue-ball-to-other-ball method. We took quite a bit of time on our game, and were actually asked to speed it up. Fortunately there was no awkward overlap as one of the bouncers came upstairs to announce that everyone had to go downstairs.

I don’t particularly understand this everyone-to-the-first-floor rule. Why cram more people into the already-packed downstairs? The only explanation I can muster is that as the night goes on, people are increasingly drunk, and thus prone to act in exponentially dangerous manners. Another rule at the Court does involve ordering drinks, as they sell pitchers of ale, rather than just pints/half pints. To order 4 pints, rather than a pitcher of ale, will warrant you a scoff, from the bartenders and from eager-to-order onlookers. I suppose this is simply due to the increased efficiency of ordering pitchers, and by violating this principle you are delaying other drinks being poured. I also noticed that, at the court, public singing is completely fine, in fact, encouraged. For instance: about a week ago it was some patron’s birthday. Though there were about 8 or so others there clearly to celebrate with her, quite a few (as in, about 30 other people) more joined the chorus for her “happy birthday” song. Another example: R. Kelly’s remix ignition came on (once due to an unknown contributor, and once because of me), which is quite a popular song. I would say about half the pub was singing the chorus, with varying volume levels. This phenomenon occurred with most uber-popular songs. I think this public singing was acceptable and prevalent thanks to the younger crowd the Court… courts.

This type of public singing would NEVER occur at my favorite pub thus far, the George on Fleet st. The George is an older pub (has been around since the late 18th century) and attracts an older, and more reserved crowd. Obviously, their ale selection is great and changes from week to week, though my favorite so far has been a stout called Murphy’s. It’s older and darker interior encourages quiet conversation, which isn’t contaminated by any music. It’s also a lot less crowded than the Court. You don’t have to plow your way through to the bar, and then wait five minutes while desperately trying to capture a bartender. The bartenders are thus more relaxed, and though not necessarily friendly, they aren’t unfriendly either. There are fewer distractions at the George as well – no snooker, and only one plasma TV hanging up in a bit of obscure place, rather than the Court that has multiple TVs on every wall. Instead, there are occasional paintings on the wall. I like this, as it reinforces why we ought to go to pubs: to socialize, to interact with others in a great setting. The only thing I don’t like about the George is that I haven’t been to the mysterious second floor. I also seem to remember there being lanterns inside, but that might be unmitigated optimism. I will check when I go back tonight for one last hoorah.

Overall, it’s a great pub, and one that I will miss when we head out to Norwich in a couple of days. In the most central point I agree with Orwell’s interpretation of what makes a good pub – a nice and quiet inside. Oh, and good beer. Unfortunately there is no garden, but the elusive second floor and flowerboxes out front suffice.

above: the george, in all its glory. personal photo

Tags: 2010 ChristopherB · Pubs