Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Rules of the Court and my favorite pub

September 20, 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

Categories: 2010 ChristopherB · Pubs
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2 responses so far ↓

  •   Mary Kate // Sep 20th 2010 at 10:14

    This is really interesting, Chris! I’ve been to the Court almost as many times as you have and I haven’t noticed ANY of these rules. Well, except for the sing-along, of course.

  •   Karl // Sep 20th 2010 at 10:42

    You’ll find that age rules are quite separate in many places, but especially in pubs. You have to know if you are in a youth pub or a REAL pub! 😉

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