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Subject: London #15 - In the pub (on the piss)
(Posted on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:56PM ) Tags:
Pubs—there certainly seemed to be a LOT of them about in the UK in '89 when Bob first visited the place. At a March '91 wedding, the topic of their number came up in conversation. The lads were standing around for a few hours in The Kings Head in Shepperton, to "take the edge off" before that much more serious church ceremony stuff began on a Saturday afternoon.

Pubs and churches went hand in hand, and were often physically side-by-side—as close
as possible to marrying the two, short of actually serving alcohol during the ceremony.

Now that would be awesome.

This physical proximity to pubs wasn’t reserved solely for churches; pubs were everywhere
in this country.

“Some 74,000 or thereabouts per current measure,” Rowland had told me. “Factor in another
35,000 on-license locations between restaurants, private clubs, other residential, and the
off-licenses, and there is no shortage, my boy.”

You could be anywhere, doing anything, and if you fancied a pint, a short walk or drive in any
direction would lead to a place to wet your whistle.

Pubs are friendly places, where even complete strangers can have a deep and meaningful conversation on just about any topic. This classic Monty Python sketch originally aired in 1969 (when Bob was not yet even in kindergarten) ably demonstrates that.


Yo, that’s the way British humo(u)r rolled back then. The Two Ronnies take another run at things in the pub with their What’s My Line approach. 


And what cultural pub overview would be complete without a little “mixing it up” a la Hale and Pace.
 

In all fairness to the ladies, we must give them a say about the pub, drinking, and what their guys may be up to, especially when the girls may have other things in mind ... nudge nudge wink wink, know what I mean? Here’s the Loose Women crew having a natter on the matter, even though it takes them a few minutes to make their points.


Say no more! Remember ladies, even if you're not from Purley and haven't been around, menfolk are simple, and not mind readers. Best to always give them a heads up on things, especially as a relationship / marriage (d)evolves over time.

So, back to the numbers and related things about pubs. The count quoted above re watering holes matches up with this source here, but seems to be significantly different from this source here, and echoed here. Well, you can chalk that up to being the nature of statistics many a time—someone always has a different way to count stuff of note. Dig deeper on your own if you feel the burning desire to demystify that.

Anyway, bottom line, it’s always better when one need not stray far for a glass of liquid cheer. With all the pubs out there, it seems many names get used repeatedly per this piece. Regarding the specific pub on that particular wedding day, it is but one of 240 with that name. There may not be a lot of creativity at play.  The Red Lion takes top spot with 518 places electing to name their establishment with that. But there are still a few examples of imaginative names with the likes of The Pyrotechnists Arms, The Cat & Custard Pot, and The Legend of Oily Johnniesamong others, as this piece highlights.

The number of UK pubs has actually been in a slow and steady decline the last decades, as pointed out here and here, for a few reasons. Other options for drinking are present now with bars and clubs, consumption patterns are changing, and lots of supermarkets are selling too, so one can drink at home more easily than ever before. Historically, there’s a long and deeply ingrained culture at play, going back to a time when drinking water may not have been so clean, so beer was a better, safer opttion—one simply had to go where that was to stay hydrated. Some of the history and background can be dug up here and here

Despite the modern day decline, there are still plenty about today if you need to get your drink on.  If you’ve never been to a real authentic pub, how does one explain the differences between pub and bar cultures? Two pieces here and  here expand on that. The best way to sort it is experiencing it firsthand if you can. 

With this talk about pubs and drinking, is it all a bit too much, and is there a problem? Australian comedian Jim Jefferies may have the answer, with his focused and artful spin on drinking, and subtle comparison between the UK and US.


We won’t bother to dig further on comparisons with other pub cultures such as Ireland and Australia—let’s save that for another drink and time. However, Bob couldn't resist pulling up an Oirish gem (from some refreshment oasis, no doubt) that wisely tells folks not to worry about most matters in life. It adheres to the KISS principle. 


Whether or not hanging around the pub fits with your own personal socializing style and/or life-knowledge gathering modus operandi, as some single-guy, occasional wedding guest and part-time typist, Bob has gleaned the following kernel of wisdom, as this pub signboard below points out. More similarly insightful and informative pub signs can be seen here.



This be TRUTH and deffo, is stuff they ain’t teaching your sorry ass in skool [sic]—maybe sumpin' best mulled in situ in some "appropriate" spot with our culturally- and world-aware Aussie mate, Jim from above, and those of similar ilk.


If you're lucky, the opportunity to experience this may be there just as it was for Bob, traveling the world for weddings. Or just read about it all in his book.