Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Beer- Not My Cup of Tea

September 21, 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.

Categories: 2010 Holly · Pubs

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