The pub culture

“I saw this thing on iTV the other week, said, if she plays with her hair she’s probably keen…She’s playing with her hair well regularly, so I reckon I could well be in.”

So, I’m listening to The Streets at my London flat tethered to my blackberry…which, by the way, is not supported in the UK by Verizon. Cheers to PDANet and a bit of ingenuity…no more coffee shop crawling for me looking for WiFi hotspots. It’s also worth nothing here that they use insecure WEP cryptography for most their WiFi anyway, so breaking in is not difficult to do at all.

Right, enough geeky shit…let’s get caught up.

When I last wrote I was over at the Bou grabbing a mocha and about to head out on an adventure. I took off down the river Thames (by the way, Americans, it’s pronounced “T-ems” not “Thay-m-es”) with the goal of taking a few good shots of Tower Bridge.

It’s a lovely walk down the blackfriars walkway as the sun begins to set. Strolling past London Bridge and seeing the Tower Bridge come into view was exciting. It was one of my favorite things to visit when I was here in 2004. I took my time shooting pictures and enjoying the evening cultures, laughing at men in spandex running past every few minutes, and smiling at all the couples and tourists sitting in awe outside of the Tower of London.

I ended up walking past the bridge and up, returning to walk past to take the opposite route back along the river. Stopping every now and then to snap a picture and enjoy the different accents and languages.

As I started walking back I felt a little off. After a few days of boozing I think it was finally starting to catch up to me. I got back to The Lyceum at around 9:30 or so, after stopping at Tescos for a couple of bottles of soda and some crisps.

That’s when it all got a bit weird.

The morning’s beer tossing and all the walking had finally caught up to me. My right shoulder was giving me a constant and annoying pain as I tried to stomach the crisps I’d bought. As much as I love Walkers I just couldn’t do it…my head started to spin and I felt worse and worse…Well dehydrated and sore, I drank as much water as I could and passed out, hard.

I ended up sleeping a good bit of the day away…waking up to drink water and stretch. I didn’t leave my flat until about 5:00 in the afternoon. I figured that I was on holiday, so why not anyway…not like I had any agenda that had to be done.

Fixed up and feeling good, I headed downstairs to meet Jim for a pint. The usual bitter flowed heavy and I met up with the usuals. Ricky, Kev, Alana, Pete, Jill, Jim, Frenchie (who knows what that guys name was), Ed, Dave…all good blokes.

I had a “toastie” which is basically a pannini with sausage and cheese. It was brilliant, and since I’d only had a bag of crisps all day it was well deserved. It likely bought me a few extra pints. We all tossed some darts and shut the bar down.

Mark, Pete’s son and his girlfriend Charlotte were around for pub closing. Lindsey and Tim were also about (my flat mates next door). Lindsey had asked me if I heard a loud bang the night prior. I had, if I remember right it went, BAM! “ooowwwww, shhhitttt!!!”

Lindsey showed me her bruised foot…

Apparently she had managed to slip getting up from the bed and went down hard. I remember sitting next door thinking, Do I go over there? I waited until it seemed like she was still moving and alright and decided against it. We all had a good laugh about that one.

I was invited out to O’Neils for what we’d call in the US “one more, no shit?” It was funny, we walked into this Irish Pub in central and the song playing on the overhead was Roxanne by The Police. Next up was Son of a preacher man, by Buffalo Springstein. American music, in an Irish Pub, in central London. How’s that for multi-cultural?

Strange that they had Guinness draught and then “extra cold” .. could it be that in other countries they actually serve beer so proper that they have to advertise it as something different when they actually chill it? Even the Guinness “extra cold” was no where near the freezing temperatures we have our beer stored at in America…It was a nice way to top off the evening, chatting with my neighbors and Mark and his bird.

It was fun catching up with everyone. I had asked Mark if half twelve meant 12:30 or 11:30 and we all had a good laugh after I realized that half past twelve would be 12:30, so why wouldn’t half twelve be?

We went back and forth about a lot of things like that. Tim asked me about baseball and American football…taking the odd shot at the fact that Rugby doesn’t bother with pads and helmets. Lindsey asked me what we call biscuits…I told her cookies, we then tried to figure out what biscuits and gravy were, and I couldn’t figure out a way to explain what the hell a biscuit was in American terms, and why we’d dump sausage gravy on it.

Sausage is a very portable thing here. Oh man the sausage is good here. As gay as that sounds it’s totally true. ๐Ÿ™‚ From my sausage toastie to my sausage pastries I’m a big fan of English food. Tim recommended something to me, but I’ve already forgotten it. I remember that it was like yorkshire pudding but with something else on it…perhaps it will come to me in my dreams.

Charlotte at one point had gotten mad at Mark for teaching me “bad English” as we were going back and forth on perfecting my terrible UK accent. She was worried that he wasn’t teaching me “proper English.” We all had a laugh about that that because after all, I do speak English ๐Ÿ™‚

I am noticing that the younger the person I interact with, the harder time I have understanding them. I don’t think it’s so much the slang but the colloquial way in which they accent words. Tim had told me that when he got to customs in the US he was laughing because the geezer was yelling at him to get behind the line and he couldn’t get over how funny the guy talked. His mom yelling at him, “Tim! They’ve got guns!”

After last call we came back to the flat, said goodnight…and here I sit, packing up and getting ready to head north to Crewe tomorrow. Got myself a window seat with a table on a Virgin train with a power outlet. I’ll be able to get caught up and book some hotel stays. I think at this point I’ve decided that I want to see the Netherlands and then come back to London for the last bit of my trip, skipping Paris. As much as I’d like to see Paris, I think that would be better served with a week around France, seeing the North and South proper.

I also had a thought coming back from the pub tonight. The culture here, at least in London, is so much better than it is back home. Many people bring backpacks into the pub and they never get messed with. It’s always a social affair with people being much more keen to stop in after work and have a pint with friends.

It’s really easy to fall in love with that kind of culture.

The best example I have is that pubs tend to get crowded as they do in the states, but when someone passes you and accidentally bumps into you, it’s common to hear “sorry” or “sorry mate” and get a quick tap on the shoulder. In America it seems like that occasion often prompts two hot heads to beat the shit out of one another. People are gracious and open to different cultures as London and the whole if Europe is a melting pot of cultures. I love my country, but I think we tend to get arrogant and set in our ways. We could all take a page from English culture.

Between Pete trying to change the world one bellend at a time and the social graces of proper Londonheads, I think we could all learn a thing or two. I’ll leave you with that thought as I turn in for the night.

Hope all is well for everyone. Cheers for now.


2 responses to “The pub culture”

  1. I would have been disseminated in you if you didn’t sleep at least one day away in an ancient, foreign, and majestic land. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am really enjoying your blogs sir, I am glad you have the strength to write so much. Oh, and even though the Extra Cold Guinness “was no where near the freezing temperatures” we like our beer, the photo of it still gave me happy pants. I am enjoying a Smithwick’s and drooling. Safe travels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *