Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

What to write about pubs?

September 21st, 2010 · No Comments

Perhaps I should begin by writing about how different they are from what I expected. First of all, London is supposed to be this big hoppin’ city with a fantastic nightlife. Wrong. Almost every pub we tried the first two weeks we were here closes at eleven o’clock – weekends included. When the first bartender told us, I didn’t believe it was true. I thought they were just trying to get rid of the annoying American kids that don’t know how to order a pint. But then I started to realize that everyone in the pub was leaving and it was the same for each of the pubs we visited after that, so it couldn’t be simply a conspiracy against obnoxious students. My next reaction was annoyance and frustration. What kind of city closes at eleven?

I also expected that the music selection would be a little bit different. My assumption was that a British establishment would play British or at least European music. Wrong again. As Mel’s post pointed out, pubs here play mostly American music. During the course of an evening one may hear Justin Timberlake, R. Kelly, Journey, Lady Gaga….and the occasional Beatles song (but let’s face it, we have Americanized the Beatles to the point where we have adopted them as our own). I am really disappointed that I haven’t heard any new songs yet. Has American pop music become a British norm? Hopefully once we get up to Norwich and out of such a touristy area we will encounter a more diverse and authentic British sound.

One of the things we learned from Kate Fox is that pubs are one of those bizarre exception places where British people are allowed to be friendly if they want to. This is perhaps the only one where my expectations have held true. I assumed both from reading Kate Fox and from my own social instincts that although no one would approach me, if I instigated a conversation people would generally respond warmly. My first experiment: the bartenders. Almost every one of them has been friendly. No one has made fun of my accent, or my inability to sort through the ridiculous multitude of coins which any British child of five could handle. My next victims were the actual pub goers, and it seems that the same rules apply. One night at The Court, a couple of us wanted to play pool but we weren’t sure what the etiquette was for queuing or why table seemed to have different dimensions than the ones we are used to back home. The group of British kids that were already playing were happy enough to explain to us that the table is smaller because it wasn’t actually meant for billiards but a different type of game. While we waited for our turn a few of them continued to talk to us providing us with little helpful tips and tidbits of information.

All in all, I’d say that the pubs have been a mixed experience. I think that after I get over the initial shock of early closings, I could really learn to enjoy them.

Tags: 2010 Sarah

Pubs: Icons of England

September 20th, 2010 · 1 Comment

The Marquis of Granby around 18:00 (personal photo)

Even more so than Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, possibly even the Queen herself, the first thing that comes to mind when Americans hear “England” is pubs. (At least when American college students hear “England.”) I don’t think I exaggerate when I say this. (Do I?) When we first arrived in England, hitting the pubs was at the top of our to-do list and it has pretty much stayed there throughout our time here. Whether we are unwinding at the end of the day, or enjoying a (culturally acceptable! awesome) midday pint, it is almost inevitable that we find ourselves in a pub at some point during the day.

In his essay, “The Moon Under Water,” George Orwell describes his ideal pub. Before arriving in England, my romanticized vision of what a pub would be like was much like what Orwell describes. I certainly did not envision strawberry-pink china and children running around as Orwell did, but the familiarity, the “regulars,” and the “atmosphere” were all very distinct in my imagined pub, an amalgamation of bits and pieces, images and texts, from the likes of Harry Potter books and movies, works by Charles Dickens and Shakespeare, paintings, children’s books, and countless other popular culture representations.

While I haven’t experienced exactly what I imagined, not surprisingly, the look of English pubs, what I call the “pub aesthetic,” has been consistent with what I envisioned. Pubs are not light, airy spaces, they are not in line with current commercial interior decorating trends, they are decidedly old-looking. A color palette of some combination of maroon, deep forest green, rich chocolate brown, navy blue, black, and some muted taupe-y hues is de rigueur. Generally, at least some or all of the walls will be wood-paneled, as well as the countertops. The chairs, stools, and tables are generally made of wood as well, possibly with iron bases for extra sturdiness. You will be served your drink in a real glass- nothing is plastic. (An exception to the “pub aesthetic” is the pub popular amongst our group, The Court, which has more of a Potbelly’s/Buffalo Wild Wings atmosphere, and I wouldn’t classify it as a traditional English pub. To me at least, The Court feels a bit artificial, a little too streamlined.)

As American tourists who don’t necessarily know our way around, we often end up in pubs on the main roads in the touristy areas. Also as Americans, we think of drinking as a predominantly nighttime activity, as our bars generally don’t open til 8pm or later. So we were initially puzzled when we discovered that nearly all of the pubs close at 11 and appear deserted after 9pm. We soon discovered that in England, pubs are much more like American coffee shops than American bars.

Like Orwell, I believe the best pubs are those off the beaten path, down the side streets and through the alleys. For the best pub experience, get off of Tottenham Court Rd. and go right at the end of the typical office work hours, then you will find scenes like the one pictured above at the Marquis of Granby. The pubs on the side streets are where you will find the locals, where you will see people drinking on the crowded pavement outside the crowded pub, hear snippets of every day gossip and banter, and observe the Brits really being Brits.

Tags: 2010 Rachel · Uncategorized

First Week Observations and Thoughts

September 3rd, 2010 · 2 Comments

Reading Fox before I came to England  has definitely helped me a lot, not only because it prepared me for the behaviors and quirks of the English, and probably diffused some of the culture shock, but also because it has helped me to notice things that I might not otherwise have noticed and to think about these things critically when otherwise I might not have know what to do or to think.  During our first week in London, I have made a few observations about English culture and habits that were not specifically covered in Fox, but I have used Fox to help me think about these observations.  Here are a few:

Bathrooms/toilets/loos: In America, bathroom stall doors and walls are constructed with the least amount of material possible, with a lock that might be a hook through a loop, or a latch in a slot.  People check underneath the doors to see if the stall is occupied or gently poke the door, not without the danger of disengaging the flimsy lock.  In England, there are floor to ceiling doors with legitimate deadbolts.  In addition, the part of the lock on the outside of the door will show red when occupied, just so no one even tries to test the door of your occupied stall.  Not that you could look under the doors if you tried.    I probably would not have taken this much notice of the difference between the two countries I have now “lived in” had I not been thoroughly aware of the English obsession with and need for privacy through Fox.   However, I like this aspect of the English obsession with privacy.  Unlike some of the other privacy related quirks,  such as not asking someone’s name upon meeting them, this one actually seems adaptive.

On the tube: Although the English are obsessed with privacy, they do not share American qualms about sitting next to strangers.  If we were on a train in America, and the only seat open was next to a stranger, we would rather stand.  In England, people go for any available tube seat.  Do they acknowledge that they have a neighbor or make any attempt to talk to them?  No, but I have caught our group standing for a whole train ride unless there are seats where we can all sit next to each other.  We Americans have apparently not perfected Fox’s “denial rule” of pretending that we are alone, even in public.

Do not rush eating in England unless you are getting take-away: During our lunch break during class at the UEA London Centre, some of the group (perhaps foolishly, in denial about how much time we actually had) decided to go to a pub.  We all ordered sandwiches.   They were good, but we did not get our food until we only had like 10 minutes to eat before getting back to class.  We scarfed it as fast as we could (this felt rude), some of the group took their sandwiches in napkins back to the classroom (this also felt rude), and some of us left the remainder of our lunches on our plates (this also felt rude).  When people do get take away for lunch, they are always in a hurry.  You can see people power walking through the tube stations with briefcases and sandwiches from Pret a Manger.  Clearly the English have specific rules for the settings and circumstances in which you can hurry and not hurry your eating, and we are learning the rules as we go.  At most take away places, it even costs less to take away then to eat in.  I wasn’t quite sure how to interact with the English pub staff –  to apologize for rushing.  They didn’t say much other than “Oh well you seem to be in a hurry” but we know from Fox that they never would have told us if we were being rude.  I suspect they may have tut-tutted among themselves after we had left.

Well I’ll keep this relatively short for now.  I’m sure there will be more observations such as these as our time in London goes on, and as we get used to the customs and habits and begin to become part of them ourselves,  I wonder if we’ll start to read Fox in a different way.

Tags: 2010 Kaitlin

The Farmhouse: Where we didn’t blow!

May 21st, 2010 · No Comments

Tonight we went to The Farmhouse (farmhouse-norwich.co.uk) on Colman rd. for their weekly Thursday night pub quiz. This pub, unlike all the others I went to on my pub quiz quest, is far from off the beaten track as it sits on the corner of two major roads and is on the 25 bus route (I am sure every Dickinson student knows which pub I am talking about). Consequently, many people were at the quiz as many people can see the sign advertising the quiz outside the pub every week. This also drew in a diverse age range of contestants.

Like the first two quizzes, the Farmhouse pub quiz cost a pound per person to enter. There were 3 normal rounds, a paper round, and a surprise bonus round. We did rather well on the paper round (it was a list of 6 letter words with the first three letters missing and you had to figure out what each word was), we got all but one answer correct (we didn’t get emb-ryo). The three normal rounds were a quite a bit more challenging as they were all pop culture questions and did not include any other subjects. Fortunately my teammates proved to know a lot more about pop culture than I did, and we didn’t do too badly. The final surprise round consisted of a bubble blowing contest; each team selected one team member to go up to the bar and attempt to blow 3 bubbles. I was selected to blow the bubbles for my team and I used my three tries to blow the largest bubble as the quiz master made all sorts of jokes about my ability to give a good ‘blow’… it was hard to focus on blowing bubbles and not to laugh. At the beginning it seemed as though I was going to win, but at the last minute the last competitor (who obviously had a LOT more gum in his mouth than the amount allotted for the contest) blew a massive bubble and I was knocked down to second place.

Overall in this pub quiz we did not suck or rather ‘blow’ but actually did pretty well. Like all the other quizzes, this quiz had a unique aspect that drew in the customers and kept them coming back. The Farmhouse had a prime location, a very kind staff that had quite a few jokes up their sleeves, and a unique bubble blowing round that set it apart from all competing quizzes.

Tags: Rebecca

The Beehive: where we Americans were a not so welcome novelty!

May 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Yesterday a large group of 8 Dickinson students, an English friend, and I headed over to The Beehive pub (www.beehivepubnorwich.co.uk), just off Colman Rd. After waiting for the bus for a half hour we gave up and decided to walk to the pub. We got there five minutes till the quiz was supposed to start and were happy to find that the pub was quite crowded! We split into two teams and struggled to find tables and seats.

Finally! A half hour later the pub quiz started! The first round was rather simple and a lot easier than all the other pub quizzes I had been to. The second round was a picture round where there were pictures from films with the actors’ heads missing and you had to guess what film it was from. The last round was a bit more challenging than the first round but was still quite a bit easier than the other quizzes this week. Most of the questions in the first and third round were a nice balance of general knowledge questions: some being on history, geography, and literature with a few pop culture questions here and there. This did not give any group or age group an advantage. However, there were quiet a few “American” questions that were certainly in our favor.

The quiz master was happily surprised to find that there were two teams of Americans in the quiz yesterday. He was curious where all of us were from and surprisingly knew quite a bit more about each city and town than one would expect. He even knew the capitols of every state (impressive considering my flatmates thought New Orleans and Philadelphia were states!). He apparently teaches a ‘football’ (not sure if he was referring to American football or English ‘football) camp in the United States and had traveled around quite a bit.  We were fine with him asking us questions about the US however, he may have crossed the line when he announced to the entire pub that there were two teams of Americans present at the pub quiz. Every time an American question came up he announced that it was in our favor, and this did NOT make us popular with the other teams! There were numerous indistinguishable grumbles and jokes starting or ending with “those Yanks”. We had invaded THEIR territory and we had better not win!

Fortunately we did not win (neither team did) but fell somewhere in the middle. If we had won I don’t think the locals would have taken too kindly to us and may have kicked us all out on our bums (refraining from using a more appropriate but profane word). If you want to be thought of as a novelty, feel completely out of place, get put on the spot, and receive numerous evil glares this is the pub quiz for you fellow Americans! In all of the months that I have been in this country never have I felt like such an outsider/invader!

Tags: Rebecca

The Rose Tavern: They give you sweets!

May 18th, 2010 · No Comments

Tonight Kim, Sarah, and I went to another pub quiz in the Norwich city center. The Rose Tavern (rosetavern.co.uk) was a bit off the beaten path and was a real local’s pub! The drink prices, though it was not far from Unthank Rd. or the St. Stephens St. bus stop, reflected its obscurity. When we first arrived I was happy to find that the pub was already quite a bit fuller than the Micawbers Tavern. It was also quite a bit larger and had a larger age range of customers.

I soon discovered that the Rose Tavern is the place to go in Norwich for pub quizzes! In fact, their quizzes are so popular that they have a quiz night every Sunday and Tuesday night, while most pubs only have one once a week or once a month. Tonight there were 40 people, and according to the pub masters (yes they have 2) “it was a quiet night”. Apparently, their Sunday quizzes are often quite a bit larger, with well over 50 guests. Why is it so popular? As my above title suggests, they give you sweets! Every team that participates in the pub quiz, whether they come in last place (like us) or first (first place also gets drink vouchers), gets a bag of sweeties at the end of the quiz! This gives makes everyone feel like a winner and motivates those who are losing miserably to stick around a bit later (potentially buying a few more drinks of course!) This also reflects the English compulsion to cheer for the underdog!

As I said above, overall we didn’t fair too well points wise. Many of the questions were either too English (we don’t watch the East Enders or Rugby) or too manly for us three girls (there was an entire section on planes, trains, and automobiles after the current events round that included a lot of sports questions). However, the team judging us (a young couple) took pity on us and gave us a couple more points than we deserved (again cheering for the underdog). During the quiz many of the ‘usuals’ had a good time ‘taking the piss out’ of the quiz masters, challenging his answers left and right and screaming out the ‘correct’ pronunciations of words and names.  I highly doubt such rowdiness would be socially acceptable in many other English social atmospheres.

After the quiz I spoke to the two rather attractive and young quiz masters about their experiences running quizzes. I asked them how they got so many people to turn up and they said that they took a look at the prizes distributed at other pub quizzes in Norwich and topped them with their numerous sweets and generous drink vouchers. Unlike the last quiz master, they seemed to be a bit more entrepreneurial (as well as younger) and were into it not just for the fun but also for the money. They told me that though two loyal teams tend to battle it out on Tuesdays, Sundays were a bit more up in the air and weren’t consistently any one team. They also explained to me that some people take their quizzes quite seriously and create teams that go from pub quiz to pub quiz throughout the week competing, and these individuals sometimes even compete in National competitions. Last week I would have thought this a bit odd, but after two this week I can see how they could become addicting! Our team left the quiz with a sense of satisfaction, for those questions we did answer correctly, and a bag of sweets in hand! We also enjoyed getting out into the community, supporting a local business, and the company of friends; what more could be better? Ok winning would be nice… but that’s not what pub quizzes are really about!

Tags: Pubs · Rebecca

My first pub quiz in the Norwich city center… or shall we say ‘centre’

May 16th, 2010 · No Comments

Today some friends and I went to the Sunday night pub quiz at the Micawbers Tavern (www.micawberstavern.com) on Pottergate, up the street from the Bird Cage. None of us had ever been to, or even seen, this pub. We arrived at 7:30 anticipating a crowd of people ready to participate, however there were only 3 people there when we arrived and one of them was the barman. Despite this I courageously walked up to the bar asked about the quiz and explained my project to the barman. I was told that there would, in fact, be a quiz if more than 12 people showed up to participate. Unfortunately, at the bar I was also met by and old ‘friend’, a older man I had met at another pub months ago who took a particular interest in me being that I was American and a “pretty girl”. After listening to his racial slurs and tales about his time in America in 1976, I slowly shifted my way back to the table.

My friends and I briefly discussed the effect that the recession had on pubs. My English friend said that before the recession many pubs exclusively served beer and that pub quizzes weren’t as common. However, he said the recession and pressure from chain pubs like Weatherspoons forced them to try and stay afloat by adding food menus and quiz nights. Pub quizzes are often held on slow nights of the week, like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they are meant to bring in business that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Soon after completing our discussion some more people arrived for the quiz and the barman was kind enough to introduce me to them, making my job of approaching the standoffish Englishmen a LOT easier! He introduced them to me as the team that almost always wins, alternating with one other loyal team. These two older men have attended the pub quiz at Micawbers Tavern and have attended pub quizzes in general off and on for they couldn’t remember how long. They told me that before they started going to Micawbers for the pub quiz they attended the pub quiz at the Rose Tavern, which I will be going to later this week, and they said that it had become too repetitive and that the quiz master got all the questions offline. They said that the Micawbers pub quiz was more interesting and more of a challenge than others they had been to. I thanked them for their information and wished them luck in the quiz and went back to the table.

I was soon approached by a member of another team, after dodging my old ‘friend’ as he tried caressing of my hair (EEK!). This women said she and her friends had just left the Rose pub (not to be confused with the Rose Tavern) and came to the Micawbers Tavern for a quiz that they liked more. She said that the Rose played too many new songs and that she and her friends weren’t good at naming songs before 2000. This was when we realized that we were not the target age group of the Micawbers quiz and that we would probably do miserably.

As she left the table the quiz master came to collect our money (one pound per person) and to distribute the answer sheet and picture round sheet. We immediately noticed that though we may not fair very well during the quiz, we would at least be entertained by our humorous quiz master. He was obviously not there for the extra money, but he instead really enjoyed being a quiz master.

We did quite well on the picture round of the quiz (they were pictures of Disney characters), however it went downhill from there. There was a brief moment of satisfaction when he listed 5 literature questions in the second round (two of which were dealing with 19th century writing, the period I am studying in one of my classes this semester). In the picture round and the first two rounds we got 25/60 points (2 points for each correct answer and one point if half the answer was right). Then the fourth round was the music round… and that did not go so well! We got 3/20 points on that round and were way behind our older competitors. The fourth and last round was unlike any round I have played at the Union pub quiz, it was a cryptic puzzle round where questions 1-9 hinted at the answer to number ten. The second question was “the name of the American Arizona football team and the St. Lewis baseball team are the same, what is the abbreviated nickname for a player on either team?” I was sooo happy I had watched the playoffs last year and knew that the nickname for player on the cardinals was a ‘card’. Another question asked for the name of a fish in the ray family and I guessed ‘skate’. By the time we got to question 10 we had no idea what these words had in common, the quiz master tried helping us out a bit because we were new but it was hopeless, we had no idea. We later found out that the answer to question 10 was “board” because each answer became another word when ‘board’ was added on the end, so there was ‘cardboard’, ‘skateboard’, ‘scoreboard’, and etc. I thought this round was incredibly clever and perfectly demonstrated the English fascination with words and puns.

After the quiz the quiz master approached us and told us he was also going around to a bunch of quizzes and writing a review of them in a local paper. I found this quite interesting and asked him what he had learned so far, he described one of the places he had been to  and explained its good points and its bad points. I asked him how long he had been a quiz master and he said about 4 years and that he got into it when there was a change of ‘landlords’ and his friend, who was related to the person buying Micawbers Tavern, recommending him for the job.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pub quiz, even though our team came in last place. The Quiz master had us in stitches all night and I really liked the last round once it made sense to me. I would go back again, especially if my parents were able to come and visit.

Tags: Pubs · Rebecca

Classical leisure: pubs and plays.

September 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

   Nights out in London have been proven to be interesting. Whether going out dancing in Metra, seeing a Shakespeare play at the Globe, grabbing a drink at a random pub, or walking through Thames River at night and enjoying a festival, London has a variety of entertainments for those looking to get out of their “residence” spaces aka the Arran House. The choice is behind a Londoner on what to do for “a night out.” For a typical night out in London, one can expect to pay a visit to at least one pub to grab a drink or two, to chat with “drunk locals who seem as much part of the building as the rafters that support the roof,” staying until the closing time and then heading back to the locations of “residence.” Although pubs have been the source of entertainment in England for centuries and one can not find anything similar in other parts of the world, I have not been particularly impressed by the pub culture in England, but that maybe also be because I rather dance the night away than sit around drinking Ale. Luckily, I was able to find several locations in trendy London where they play music that I, an American, recognized and I had great friends with me who are amazing dancers and are willing to “break it down” on any dance floor. In comparison to the American night life culture, it seems that the Brits are laid back, satisfied with socializing and more focused on chit-chating the night away. While experiencing the actual night life in London, I was more interested in “classical leisure.” 


   Always being a fan of plays, musicals, theater and anything involving a plot , I was that one individual who was excited before every show we were going to see during our time in London.  Some were more disappointing than others  (shall I say…Marilyn Monroe in Blood Brothers) while others brought on tears, laughter, compassion and love. With watching two Shakespeare plays, As You Like It and Troilus and Cressida in the actual Globe Theater, seeing the creativity behind the staging and lighting of All’s Well That Ends Well, and an interesting idea of Arcadia which compares two different families in two different centuries yet again there are ways in which their lives are interconnected. Being that this was the first time that I had ever seen Shakespeare plays, I want to focus on the characters presented by the writer in Troilus and Cressida,As You LIke It  and All’s Well That Ends Well. 


   Although Shakespeare has written plots from dramatical pieces to comedy, his comedian side seems to always pay a visit. In all of the three Shakespearean plays that we have seen, we have had a character who one might say is not only entertaining but is also the representation of truth and class differences. In Troilus and Cressida a character by the name of Thersites can be described as “a deformed and scurrilous low class fool.” Although throughout the play, the plot of the story does not focus on him, he provides the audience a laugh as well as a different outlook on the war that is going on between the Trojans and the Greeks as well as on the love triangle that is continuos throughout the play. In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, there is a more obvious character who we know will serve the comedic role. A character Touchstone, whose first scene involves a joker costume was an instant hit and a constant laugh. Hands down he has been my favorite character in all of the plays we have seen. 


   Shakespeare’s focus on his characters and his plots show realistic situations of actual people. His emphasize on the interrelationship between characters, most of the times very complicated relationships, Shakespeare was able to focus on history, love, and passion and make his plays educational in every sense possible. I was also very surprised that the plays that we have viewed all had recurring themes of sexuality. It is clear that Shakespeare was ahead of his times. And of course, the theme of love did not escape me. Shakespeare’s ideas of unconditional love, jealousy, and desire were clearly displayed by the actors who were lucky to be performing on the stages of the National Theater as well as the Globe Theater (although it is not the original!). 


original design of The Globe


   I have greatly enjoyed the varieties of the performances we have seen in London over this past month. I can not express how grateful I am for everything that I was able to witness. These experiences will stay with me forever. Thank You everyone and Professor Qualls! 

Tags: Jeyla · Pubs · Theatre

London Pubs and Pub Culture

September 18th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Being that I was a part of the group responsible for doing the Pubs walking tour, I got to see a lot of pubs while in London. Some of them were big some of them small, some new and some old. However, all of them had a large and often loyal clientele.
One of the things that I feel makes the pub culture so strong in the U.K., in comparison to the U.S. and many other countries is the fact that EVERYTHING except the pubs close before 8 pm (6 pm in Norwich). Nightclubs are also open past 8 pm, however since coming here I have learned that most Brits cannot dance. What does one do after 8 pm if they are bored and wanting to socialize with friends? The only thing there is to do: go to the local pub. If one is craving a bite to eat past 8 pm, pubs are some of the few places still left open. From a visitor’s perspective I often find myself wondering why things cannot be open later. Yet, I can see why this might be nice from a resident’s perspective. If I lived in London I would be very happy to never have to work the late shift at work, and to be able to leave work by 8 and head off to meet my friends at the local pub so I could grab a meal and unwind after a day at work. The real truth is that Americans work too much, are too uptight, and need to live their lives more like the Brits or the Europeans. This maybe far fetched, but I believe that drinking in bars and pubs is looked down upon in the states partially because it is associated with laziness and carelessness. No matter how much it annoys me that nothing in Great Britain is open late I realize that it is better for the welfare of the people. In fact, many of the pubs I visited were filled with people who had just left work and walked to the nearest pubs with their coworkers and friends. The Viaduct Tavern, on Viaduct Holburn, was always filled to the brim with the bankers and lawyers that worked in the area, so that when you approach the pub after 5 pm all you can see is a huge crowd of people all wearing suits.
Another thing I found interesting was how the selection of drinks and how the selection was displayed varied from pub to pub depending on their clientele. Pubs that were in tourist areas tended to have more mixed drinks like with names like “Sex on the Beach” and “The Slow Kiss”. These pubs also had the lists of their drinks in a menu or written on the wall. The tourist’s pub also has music, a jukebox, pool tables, and/or electronic games. The more traditional pub and those that severed the locals more than tourists had ales, lagers, ciders, and liqueur but no drink menu and no mixed drinks. In pubs like these the price of the drink you are buying is always a surprise until they ring you up. Also, some of the older traditional pubs have no music, no pool tables, and no games. These differences show how tourism has influenced the London pub culture. I hope to explore the more authentic British Pub more while I am in Norwich.

Tags: Rebecca

Myth vs Legend, Does Pub Culture Still Exist?

September 16th, 2009 · 2 Comments

What is there to say, really, that has not already been said? More than anything else I was told before coming here, I was told that pubs were ingrained into the English culture, often known as pub culture. Now having been to a pubs myself, including a few busts that were propagated largely by older men, I am still not sure that I can pin-point just what “pub culture” is. I guess in that way, pub culture is much like the British identity, elusive and complex.

However, there are a few keys things I can note about  the drinking, or pub culture I have been so often encouraged to look out for. Perhaps I can sort out a little of the truth from the myth pub culture has really grown to be. Yes, it is true that English drink more, more often, and earlier than seems to be the practice in the US. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, if you walk by a pub you will encounter a large crowd of people, often in business suits, standing outside the pub drinking. Another thing, people stand outside. Most pubs, perhaps for lack of standing or sitting room inside the pub, or maybe so people can smoke, or even just because they want fresh air, tend to have large crowds standing in front of the pub often under an awning. Yes it is true, people seem to be relatively friendly in these pubs, but, they still come with a group and tend to stay with a group.

This brings us to the bog winner question: do pubs and pub culture act as a window into the British culture? I would say more often than not, no. While pubs of course demonstrate the key difference  between the late night drinking of America and the all day drinking of England, beyond that they illustrate little more. In my time spent there I have interacted with little to no “Brits” and found few pubs that even held my age group. Once we arrive at UEA, I look forward to see how this will change as we will more back into the college town setting we are used to in Carlisle. But even still, the mainly older crowds in pubs forces me to wonder, is pub culture a thing of the past. Are younger people simply going there and getting drunk and somehow closing the curtains on this “window” we Americans eagerly attempt to look through?

Tags: Megan · Pubs