Welcome Britit Readers! I’m back to blog again about one of my favourite British cultural features –Pubs. In my previous UK Pub Guide I looked at social etiquette and pub grub. Today, I’m focusing on four more traditional features. Read through and then let me know via the comment box what you enjoy most about UK pubs.
Only For Drinking?
Let it not be said that the pub is simply a place to drink alcohol. Oh no! Pub games have a long history and though they are largely out of fashion now it is still possible to find one or two out of the way places with dartboards, dominoes, pinball machines and table football.
Tradition 1 – Darts: A Way of Life
This remarkable game requires expert timing, patience and nerves of steel! The aim of the game is to insert a small arrow into a circular wooden board through physical propulsion (usually a flick of the wrist). Points are scored in relation to where the dart lands amid the numbered segments of the board. The throwing player is often expected to drink beer throughout the game hence accounting for the rotundity of seasoned darts players. Derisory remarks about the abilities of other players can add spice to a game but is frowned upon by more serious practitioners. Over recent years darts has become increasingly professional. An unmissable part of the sporting calendar is the Lakeside Darts Tournament where legends of the game with ridiculous monikers (The Crafty Potter/John “Boy” Walton) do battle amidst alcohol inspired revelry and pantomime chic.
Tradition 2 – Dominoes: The Limits of Endurance
If darts tests a person’s physical aptitude and co-ordination then dominoes is a trial of mental athleticism and cunning. The rules of dominoes are universal; players try to match up corresponding numbers of dots on their dominoes while concealing them from other players. The first player to get rid of all his dominoes is the winner. Dominoes is taken very seriously by its players and ‘fans’, sometimes substantial amounts of money can change hands. A player of the author’s acquaintance used to drink beer himself while buying whisky for his opponents, thus remaining sober while the others were ‘tipsy’.
Tradition 3 – The curse of the ‘regular’
Newcomers to pub life might be unaware that a strict social hierarchy exists in these very British institutions. This is most recognizable in the omnipresence of “the regular’ customer, easily recognized by (usually) his familiarity with the bar staff and landlord, condescending attitude to other customers and general boorishness. The regular will more often than not have ‘their chair’ next to the bar from where, though usually ill-informed, they pontificate on all kinds of matters to anyone who will listen. The regular is by definition suspicious, narrow-minded and should be avoided at all costs.
Tradition 4 – The ‘real-ale’ enthusiast
Another peculiarly British phenomenon is the connoisseur of fine quality beer. In contrast to (invariably) his wine tasting equivalent the real-ale enthusiast stresses his lack of sophistication, a pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to life and beer is required. These enthusiasts will travel long distances to sample obscure strange sounding ‘ales’ with bizarre names (Wrens Nest, Hobgoblin) often keeping a written record of their findings. While talking at great length about favored beers, I’d suggest that they don’t actually enjoy relaxing with a drink instead spending most of their time weighing up its pros and cons. Real-ale enthusiasts often conceal a lack of confidence behind an affected bonhomie.
Share your pub experiences
I hope you have enjoyed my description of four traditional UK pub features which I am fond of. Don’t forget to let me know via the comment box what you enjoy most about UK pubs.
Useful New Language from the blog post:
 A flick (of the wrist) – sudden twist.
 Rotundity- fat belly
 Derisory (remarks)- negative, rude.
 Moniker- nickname, alternative name
 Revelry- high spirits
 Cunning- cleverness, sly, cunning as a fox
 Tipsy (informal) – slightly drunk
 Omnipresence- always there
 Condescending- treating someone as your inferior
 Pontificate- speak without listening, from a position of assumed knowledge
 Pragmatic- basic, designed to function