Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Chugah, chugah, chugah, chugah PUB! PUB!

September 22, 2010 · No Comments

The first time I walked into a pub in London it was a bit like entering an alternate universe where everything is foreign and strange. It was almost like a bar scene in Star Wars. I was with a group of friends and we spent the first five minutes walking back and forth from table to bar, unsure of what to do. We stood awkwardly at the bar then awkwardly at our table, then back to the bar only to stand awkwardly a bit more. Eventually, we managed to be served which is better than I can say for a couple of times at the very beginning when, at the barman’s request, I sat down at pubs but then was never served. I still haven’t quite worked that one out. What I do know is that it was awfully confusing to be in a pub for the first couple of weeks that I was here in London.

The learning curve quickly flattened out and at the beginning of week three the pub became an event done by habit with hardly any thought involved. In that way, adjusting to pub culture is a microcosm of my acculturation into being British. At first you feel kind of weird about things but eventually they become second nature. Having visited probably over fifteen pubs since I’ve been here, I now feel qualified to make my own pub requirements like Orwell did. If I could design a pub it would:

Have good American beers (sorry for this one, Professor Qualls). I’ve become accustomed to drinking lots of delicious IPAs and Stouts which I haven’t been able to find in pubs in London. One really good IPA on draught would do wonders for my homesickness.

I agree with Orwell on this one: a pub absolutely needs a fireplace or three. Not only should a pub have a fireplace but it should also have dark wood paneling, plush carpets, and comfy couches arranged around heavy wooden tables. All of this adds to the antiqueness and hominess of the pub.

A logical extension of such cozy décor is something I’ve been told some pubs do as the days grow shorter. That is, pubs should have available delicious wintery hot drinks: hot chocolate with Bailey’s or peppermint schnapps, warm mulled wine, and hot cider with cinnamon sticks. As Fox talks about, the pub almost serves as a place of asylum, a neutral ground where the other rules of British culture melt away. Nothing would be better in helping them melt away than a nice warm alcoholic drink. England’s climate begs for it. I look forward to that in the winterier months.

Lots of good games. I realize that this might be partially against the ethic of the pub but I really like table tennis. Any pub with table tennis and a good IPA would make me a regular.

I think that about does it. I’m obviously not quite as picky as Orwell nor as cynical. I believe that I will find my pub, just as I want it, it’s only a matter of time.

Categories: 2010 Daniel

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