Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

On Pubs

September 21, 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.

Categories: 2010 Sean · Pubs

2 responses so far ↓

  •   maryc // Sep 21st 2010 at 18:17

    I like the distinctions you made regarding pub culture, comparing American bars to English pubs in London to drinking publicly in Korea. I hope you find a pub you like in Norwich too so that you can get the full English experience of drinking in pubs. If not, I’d be interested to see if some British students opt to follow you in your preference in drinking outdoors.

  •   bowmanc // Sep 21st 2010 at 18:46

    Sean, I like this post a lot as it compares 3 cultures rather than just 2. I think its quite interesting that Fox talks about how great pubs are for socializing – but it really is only with the group you know, and is not so great for meeting new people. I think there will be more pubs like the one you mentioned in Norwich, which is less tourist-y and busy. At least, I hope.

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