Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as 'Pubs'

The Perfect Pub and Its Lessons

September 19th, 2010 · No Comments

As we have all noticed, pubs are an integral part of English life. They also make for a good laugh when walking down the street and you realize a particularly bizarre pub name. My experiences in pubs thus far have been varied and I’ve learned a few things.

#1: You can’t care if people are looking at you funny because you’re loud. A couple of times, I’ve been with a group of people and we have been rather loud, not surprisingly. Of course it attracts attention, especially if has been in the earlier part of the day. For example, after the walking tours were finished, my group went to a pub (The Globe) outside of Covent Garden to have a celebratory drink.  An older couple was sitting near us and I’d notice that they sent us side glances every once in awhile.  (In our defense, we did try to sit in a back corner so that we wouldn’t- hopefully- be too disturbing.) While we were being loud, I have noticed on my other pub visits that loud isn’t always a problem. It’s a space where people can be more relaxed and English reserve is often lessened. So, I was left wondering whether the side-glances were a result of the fact we were loud Americans (typical!), 20-somethings, or a combination of both.

#2: The Irish are more outgoing, supposedly. A couple of weeks ago, I was in a pub when an Irish guy (James) started to talk to us (and constantly complained about how the English are a lot more stand-offish, as well as about how I don’t have a strong accent). At this point, I had this idea of pubs as solely a place for mates to get together to catch up or after work to wind down. Instead of being the ones who attempted to start a conversation, we were engaged, which caught me off guard. Afterwards, I was hoping that maybe some of the other experiences that I had at pubs would be more open. Nope. They reinforced the idea that this was an exception to the rule.

#3: Offering a pint is polite, but so is refusing. When I’ve been in groups and we’ve offered to a drink to the bartender, they’ve either accepted and then not charged us or refused us. In the later example, I think she was so caught off guard that we offered. The last time we were in this particular pub, we had been in a hurry and unable to “play by the pub rules.” This and her surprise at the offer because of the fact most tourists don’t know about this particular bit of pub etiquette is what, I think, played a major role in her refusal. I look forward to seeing what happens in other pubs.

#4: Don’t be in a hurry. Pubs are a place to relax and unwind with friends, not grab a quick bite between activities. They are meant to be places where time slows and happiness increases, not where stress creeps through.

#5: Orwell was right. The perfect pub doesn’t exist. I’ve enjoyed visiting different ones, but I haven’t found my ideal English pub where I want to go back and become a regular, that has my favorite cider, the best chips in the world, little rooms where no one disturbs anyone, interested workers, near a tube/bus stop, and that the worst drunks don’t visit. Yet, I think the perfect pub would lose its charm. One of the great things about the different pubs I’ve encountered so far is that they all have their charm and I would want to return for different reasons. If you take all of the traits that I’ve enjoyed the most and put them into one pub, I think I’d find it boring.

I look forward to continuing the quest for my perfect pub. I’m thinking the name will be something along the lines of the Unicorn of Albion…

Tags: 2010 Stephenie · Pubs

Pubs: What’s all the fuss?

September 19th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Frankly, I just don’t get it. I flat out do not understand how the Brits have (supposedly) built their entire social culture around pubs. You feel awkward going in, all you want to do is apologise and the food and drink are usually overpriced. That has been my experience, at least.

To be fair, I don’t plan on (once I turn 21) frequenting bars in the States. Like pubs, these are usually loud, overcrowded places mostly filled with people who have had a few too many. I’m the sort of person who would rather share a bottle of wine over dinner than specifically go out to a place to get drunk, as I think many people do.

My most positive pub experience came about after I had spent the afternoon alone going to museums. I was heading back towards the Tube from the Tate Britain when I realised that I was extremely hungry. I looked around to find some food (absolutely dreading the idea of ANOTHER sandwich from Planet Organics) and the first decent-looking place I found happened to be a pub. It was in a good area, close to the Tube, well-lit and not crowded, so I went for it. It was the White Swan Pub (photo: http://www.localdatasearch.com/london/victoria/public_houses_inns/the_white_swan-10005712)

As I walked in the door, panic began building in my mind. I mentally flipped through the pages of Watching the English, trying to remember pub protocol. Seat yourself . . . order at the bar . . . But how do I claim a table without leaving my stuff there to be stolen? Do I move the place settings or something to subtly signal that I have chosen the seat as my own? Should I only order a drink first or food at the same time?

Finally, I just approached the bar and asked rather nervously “Erm . . . do I order food up here as well?” The server gave me a lookover and then responded “Yeah.” Without even looking at the menu, I asked for fish and chips, declined to order anything to drink and paid. After sitting back down at my table, I felt awkward and decided to go back to the bar. I needn’t have bothered for a new person helped me as I tripped over myself saying “Oh. Uh, I changed my mind. . . c-could I get a half-pint of Guinness? Do you do half-pints?” Amused, he gave me my half-pint and I headed back to my table with my metaphorical tail between my legs.

The staff must have figured out that I was feeling a bit lost – plus business was slow – so they sent my waiter over at least twice to check on me as I nursed my Guinness with all the diligence of a new mother learning the ropers. When my food came, I thanked my waiter profusely and he came back twice more before clearing my plate and bringing me the bill.

Here’s what my meal looked like, if you’re interested:

It was actually the best fish and chips I’ve had in the city.

Just when I thought my troubles were over, I was suddenly facing a new dilemma.  DO I TIP? Is it offensive if I do? Is it rude if I don’t, especially as they’d taken such good care of me? I paid my bill with exact change and, after that was cleared away, made much of checking my phone while I reached down into my purse to get another pound coin and a piece of paper. I wrote a little note, saying simply: “Thank you!” and placed it and the coin on the table as I got my bag and prepared to go, taking the last sip of Guinness. Unfortunately, my waiter then came over to take my glass and, seeing the note, read it quickly and picked up the tip. My cheeks turned red and I feared I was about to face the biggest monster of English behaviour- the cold shoulder combined with the dislike of money! I needn’t have worried, as it turns out: my waiter looked me straight in the eye and said gratefully “Oh, thank you! That was very nice of you” in an accent that was clearly not British and hinted that he too was a stranger in this strange country where money is considered dirty. Relieved to have not caused offence, I gushed  “Oh, well, phew! I’m still trying to learn how all this *gesturing around, indicating the pub* works”

He smiled at me and said “Me too.”

So now the pub is not a location I visit petrified with terror, but I still prefer the peace and quiet of casual drinks with friends or at a restaurant then entering the realm of the pub, laden with social booby-traps as it is.

Tags: 2010 Elizabeth · Pubs

A Response to George Orwell

September 19th, 2010 · No Comments

After reading the title of this post, anyone not familiar with our class wiki may be expecting an intellectual argument for or against the book 1984, or any of Orwell’s other great works.  Instead, I’m going to talk about alcohol, specifically the drinking of it.  Actually, I lied, kind of.  I’m in fact preparing to discuss an essay that Orwell wrote called The Moon Under Water (for those who haven’t read it, here’s the link: http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/essays/moon-under-water.htm), which discusses the characteristics of the perfect pub in Orwell’s eyes.  So, this post won’t be so much about drinking as it will be about the venues for drinking (which should make a lot of people happy, especially my parents).

In case you’re too lazy to read Orwell’s very brief, but very interesting essay, I’ll summarize it for you.  Basically, Orwell describes a pub, which we later find out is fictional, that has ten qualities that make it perfect.  These are:

1. The architecture is Victorian.

2. Darts are only played in the public part of the bar, which allows people to drink without having to duck.

3. The pub is quiet enough to talk, with no radio or piano.

4. Barmaids that know their customers by name and take an interest in them.

5. The bar sells tobacco and cigarettes, in addition to booze.

6. There is a snack counter that serves “liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels, cheese, pickles and […] large biscuits with caraway seeds.”

7. Six days a week, they serve lunch — for example, a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll.

8. “[…] a creamy sort of draught stout […].”

9. Extreme care is taken with their drinking vessels and they never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass.

10. A large garden.

Looking at this essay 64 years after it was written, some of these things look like no-brainers that are characteristic of every modern pub (like a dart board being out of the way, or the pub having a nice stout) and some seem just silly, like beer not being served in a handleless glass or a pub having a garden.  Despite these, if I were to characterize my ideal pub (which I’m going to) I would have to say that it would have all of these characteristics, except for numbers 5 and 9, and maybe number 1.  Being completely unable to imagine a Victorian pub (mostly because when I think of “Victorian” buildings, I can only think of my aunt and uncle’s stuffy, uncomfortable Victorian-decorated houses), I don’t really know if that kind of decor is important to me or not.  However, I’m going to assume that a Victorian pub looks like a stereotypical English pub, which, if true, would mean that Victorian architecture is definitely an important trait of a great pub.  A pub just wouldn’t be a pub without being really dark at all times of the day, with dark wooden walls, a couple of old looking paintings, etc.

Unfortunately, I haven’t really found a pub that matches all of the criteria.  Most pubs are so loud at any time of the day that it’s impossible to hold a proper conversation without yelling, and I’ve never seen a pub with a garden.  However, I have found one pub that gets pretty darn close to my ideal.  Sadly, I only discovered it today, so I won’t have much time to go back.  It probably has the best name for a pub, at least in the opinion of the part of me that loves Shakespeare, because it is called The Globe, despite being nowhere near the famous theatre, being instead located very near the Covent Garden Market.  Forgetting the garden requirement because no pub nowadays has a garden and number 4 because I’ve only been there once (though the staff seem nice), The Globe meets all of my criteria, if I understand what a Victorian pub looks like.  I don’t even think they own a dartboard, which means they pass number 2 by default, and the pub was almost silent when we were there, which is a rarity that is much appreciated when it is seen.  They seem to have a very nice menu, though the four of us (the members of the Origins of Rock and Roll in London tour group, a.k.a The Fab Four) only got an order of chips, food-wise.  They have Guinness (a stout), which is really the only beer I ever need, and they seem to take care of their drinking glasses rather well.  Therefore, I guess if I needed to pick a “favourite” pub, it would be The Globe.

Now to take a different tact on the same basic theme, I guess I’ll briefly discuss the hidden rules of pubs, which are only truly hidden for any of us who haven’t read Kate Fox (which I hope is not many, if there are any at all, because it is a wonderful, though sometimes inaccurate book).  Today was actually my first experience buying drinks in rounds (technically round), so I can’t really talk much about this ritual from experience, but it seems to happen, as Fox said it does.  The basic principle for those who don’t know is that when a group is out drinking, people will take turns going up to the bar to buy drinks for the group instead of ordering individually.  There are, of course, many variations, but that’s the basic idea.  Another important rule is that of buying the bartender a drink rather than tipping him or her.  Because I never drink a lot when I go out, I’ve never really done this, because it makes much more sense if he or she has given you a few drinks, rather than just one.  In fact, the only time that I was part of a group that tried to buy a bartender a drink, she refused it (it was lunchtime and she wasn’t English, which probably makes a difference).  Therefore, I really can’t speak to the validity of this particular rule.  Those are really the only two rules that I remember observing (or not observing) in my limited pub experiences.  If anyone with more experience can think of anymore, please let me know!

Tags: 2010 MatthewM · Pubs

“You Don’t Have to Say Sorry”

September 15th, 2010 · No Comments

Last night, I had an experience that went completely against my understanding of one of the core pillars of Englishness as described by Kate Fox in Watching the English, namely the use of the word “Sorry.”  It all began when Stephenie and I decided to go the The One Tun to watch the Man U v. Rangers game, which they ended up not showing, favoring Tottenham v. Bremen.  We grabbed some fish and chips, and watched the game, while also playing pub trivia, which seems to be a weekly tradition there.  As we got up to leave, as often happens in any crowded place, a man bumped into me, and I automatically responded with a polite “Sorry,” just like Fox told me the English do.  This particular man was followed by a female, who I can only assume was the man’s girlfriend/wife.  This female character was the one that completely dismantled my understanding of English social interactions, because she said to me, and I quote, “We ran into you, you don’t need to say sorry.”  She was very polite about it (as is expected from an Englishperson), but it still was quite disconcerting.  What do you mean I don’t have to say “Sorry?”  This is England, for crying out loud!  “Sorry” is practically the national word!

After pondering this series of events over the last 24 hours or so, I have come up with several explanations for it.  The first of these is the fact that the woman seemed to be rather intoxicated, so maybe the depressive effects of the alcohol relaxed her normal English awkwardness so that she felt that “Sorry” wasn’t required.  However, I think it more likely had to do with the natural liminal properties of pubs.  Because the supposed English “social dis-ease” (which I haven’t experienced all that much in London), isn’t so severe in a pub setting, it might make sense that “Sorry” simply doesn’t apply as much, because the English are much less awkward around each other.  Even if this is true however, I am still terribly confused, and may not feel comfortable saying “Sorry” ever again.

Tags: 2010 MatthewM · Pubs · Uncategorized

What Beer Drinking Can Teach You!

September 2nd, 2010 · 4 Comments

In England, I have discovered beer to be an appropriate beverage for any time, place, or person. It can be a drink of the everyman and a drink of the aristocrat, a refreshing drink for the conservative manual worker or the Avant-garde intellectual. In my first week in London, I have had beer in so many different contexts that I am now convinced of this fact.

At the Notting Hill Carnival, London’s yearly Afro-Caribbean festival, Red Stripe (a popular Jamaican beer) was the name of the game. Jamaica, similar to former British colonies across the Caribbean, contributed a lot to British culture, including its own style of Britain’s favorite beverage. It seems that where the British once had power, breweries became an essential craft. In this way, the exportation of beer and the making of international beer culture appears to have colonialism to thank.

Colonialism wasn’t that only “ism” that beer has exposed me to this week. The British Museum, one of the world’s most important cultural institutions, has been a place of study for intellectuals since its creation at the end of the 18th century. When these intellectuals were not studying however, I have read that many of them would go across the street from the museum to the Museum Tavern for a pint. After a few intellectually stimulating hours in the museum, we made our way across the street to the tavern. The décor was similar to all other pubs we had visited but this one seemed a bit more authentically 19th century. This feeling was only enhanced by a pint of very delicious ale called “Old Peculiar.” What really struck me about the drinking in this particular pub was knowing that somewhere in that very room Lenin and Trotsky had sat and contemplated ways to liberate the peasants of Russia, or that Marx had sat with a pint after the long days spent writing Das Kapital across the street. Just as beer played a part in British imperialism, so too was beer present in the forefront of intellectualism in Britain.

Classism is also a British cultural topic demonstrated by beer. As iterated by Kate Fox in her book, Watching the English, your choice of beer/beverage can say a lot about a person’s social class. The bartenders and the English people in the pub expect certain people to buy certain drinks and my choice of beer could break unwritten social rules and earn me a liberal amount of strange looks. I have seen this first hand when ordering a half pint of cider (to protect my standing in British society, I must add that this was done for a lady).

Imperialism, Intellectualism, and Classism. All three of these British “isms” are cultural concepts that are literally seeped in beer.

Tags: 2010 MatthewG · Pubs · Uncategorized

Salaam, Whitechapel Market

August 28th, 2010 · 11 Comments

Whitechapel Market was in some ways exactly what we expected: predominantly Muslim and Hindu. There were Halal butchers, veils, saris and curry vendors on every corner.  Most shoppers had tan complexions and wore Islamic or Hindu clothing; however, there were also white, black, and East-Asian shoppers. There were some ways in which Salaam, Brick Lane and our other readings about immigration to the East End didn’t prepare us, though: we saw a handful of authentic-looking English pubs when we expecting corner-to-corner curry joints; when we had anticipated a rowdy, bustling circus, the market seemed so empty that at first we weren’t sure we were in the right place. We walked up and down Whitechapel Road looking for a more likely candidate, resembling the market of Hall’s Chalky and Mr. Ali. We eventually realized we were in the right place, but since this is the holy month of Ramadan, the market is a little more subdued than usual. We also noticed the stall-keepers were almost entirely male, and that many of the mannequins had pale skin and light hair. Among our favorite experiences: meeting a lifelong Londoner on a park bench and learning about the “decline” of the East End; being continually surprised by the various cultural characteristics and quirks of the East End population; and arguing about headscarves and religious tradition on a Bethnal Green picnic table. Hope you enjoy our pictures of the Whitechapel Market and the surrounding area – we really enjoyed our experience there, and we can’t wait to go back and see it after Ramadan.

Here are some links we thought you might like to check out:

This one claims to be the definitive website on Ronnie and Reggie Kray. You may remember these two gangsters from Salaam, and sure enough, when we asked our elderly informant about what he considers to be the “real” East End, the Krays were the first thing he mentioned. If you’re looking for a better idea of what the East End used to be like (and what some residents wish the East End still was like), take a look here.

See an informational website regarding Ramadan here.

The Royal London Hospital is located on the other side of Whitechapel road. There is a link here for more information about the hospital.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JMvSb8bVRQQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
The video on YouTube

Tags: 2010 Amy · 2010 ChristopherB · 2010 MaryKate · Markets · Pubs · readings

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

“Wait, you get to go to pubs… for class?”

February 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments

A word of warning to all of those people who wish to do experiential learning whilst in Norwich – start early.  Like many of the other people in Dickinson Humanities 310, I have been having an issue with organizations responding to me, let along promptly responding.  So, with the clock ticking ominously in my ears, it was time to get a little bit creative.  Instead of volunteering my time and free labor to the local festivals of Norwich and Norfolk like I was counting on (honestly, who doesn’t like fifteen-plus hours of free paper pushing, stuffing envelopes, and filing?), I had to think a bit further outside of the box.  So far outside that it has pushed me into pubs… darn.

One of the festivals I am looking at for the research portion of the paper is the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Norwich Beer Festival.  According to their website, this organization and festival promote “good-quality cask conditioned beers (commonly referred to as ‘real ale’), allied to traditional Brisith breweries and pubs.”   However, what really caught my eye was their goal to support local pubs that serve not only real ale, but also invoke a sense of community. 

Last night, I ventured out of my cosy flat and wandered the wet streets of Norwich.  I had four main questions that I wanted to answer; 1) Does this pub serve real ales, as defined by CAMRA?  2) What imported beers/ales does this pub serve?  3) How traditional is the pub in decor?  4) What atmosphere does this pub give off?  The three pubs I visited last night answered these questions very differently.

My first stop yesterday evening was to the Mischief Tavern.  Of the three pubs I went to, this one was the most traditional.  There were lit open fireplaces, a well-worn hard wooden floor, crooked staircases, and even a beautiful pressed tin roof with exposed roof timber beams running through it.  It was spacious, yet cozy, with both large and small tables that added to the comfortable sense of community.  Although there were a number of loud Americans running and dancing around the place, locals of all ages were enjoying a nice drink.

 This pub served real ales, and even had a couple of signs promoting it, but you had to look carefully in order to see them.  Much more obvious were the colorful and flashy logos of Budweiser, Heineken, and Tiger. 

The second pub I went to was Delaney’s Irish Pub.  Now, I know it seems slightly odd that in my quest for a traditional English pub serving traditional English ales, I went to an Irish pub.  However, in my defense, other than a couple of Irish proverbs on the walls and the fact that they sold Guinness and Jameson, there was nothing remotely Irish about it.  (In fact, I might even go so far as to say it was one of the least-Irish Irish pubs I have ever been to.  I am slightly confused as to what exactly “Irish Tapas” is…)  They did not sell any real ales and focused mainly on imports of Guinness, Fosters, and the like. 

 The pub did, however, have an odd sense of community about it.  They had pictures of people who had been there previously taped to the underside of the staircase and giant games of Connect-Four and Jenga for patrons to play with.  There were seperate high tables that could fit four or five chairs around them at most scattered just far enough away from each other to give the illusion of privacy, but still with the ability to draw another table into conversation.

The third and final pub from last night was the Belgian Monk.  The Monk is more high-end, with imported fruity beers and a wonderful sit-down restaurant.  The decor in the Monk includes posters in German, a library, and small tables with which to sip a frothy concoction of your choice.  A large portion of the indoor tables are taken up by the restaurant, as opposed to the pub, and tend to attract a clientele that has a bit more money than your average college student.

  The Belgian Monk is most certainly not a traditional English pub.  Much like with the Irish pub, it might seem slightly odd that I am including it at all in my blog post.  My reasoning is simple – all of the pubs I visited fill a niche in Norwich. The Belgian Monk is a restaurant, Delaney’s is an Irish pub, and the Mischief is a more traditional English pub.  I know that from three pubs, I can’t conclude anything about CAMRA’s presence in Norwich.  However, my next time out, I hope to come across more of the traditional English pubs in Norwich that CAMRA rightfully brags about.

Total time – 4 hours

Tags: Kelley · Pubs

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