Standing Your Corner

As if the result of the first British Lions test wasn’t depressing enough:


Britons ‘shun birthdays and pubs’

The Press Association

The economic downturn is making Britons mean, with people ignoring friends’ birthdays and refusing to buy rounds of drinks in the pub, a survey has showed.

Nearly a third of people said they would no longer buy a round of drinks when out with friends for fear they would end up out of pocket, according to Moneysupermarket Vouchers.

Four out of 10 people also admitted they now carefully study a restaurant bill to ensure they only pay for what they have ordered, while 27% said they no longer bought their friends birthday presents.

Is anyone else out there thinking what I’m thinking? I reckon this ‘economic downturn’ must have been going on for the last 25 years. I have always ended up in the company of those who are bit backward coming forward. Beer ain’t cheap, I suppose, but if you haven’t got the money then don’t come out and play. Isn’t it always the same few people who end up getting clobbered with the big round, and always the same scheisters who have to leave, seem to be in the loo, or out of sight when it’s time for them to stump-up?


They often use the tried-and-tested method of getting to the boozer first, when there’s only a couple of you at the bar, buy a round of two drinks and then that’s it for the night—even when five or six others arrive. If they can hang on for another half-dozen rounds, these master tacticians will manage to leave the pub or fall over before they’re called up to contribute to the night’s merriment.

There is, of course, a simple way around this: make sure everyone plays by Greaves’ Rules, as my regular reader will be fully versed in. Amazingly there are still those out there who have never read the great William Greaves’s words of wisdom. Put em right!

Who among us hasn’t watched from a safe distance, (normally at backward square leg, saving the one) while a group of young ‘uns (usually students) approach the bar and each individually, one-after-the-other, order their own drinks ? (a cider, a WKD, a Vodka Red Bull or worse, a Malibu-and-something). The beverage is served then the ubiquitous small-change purse is held up, tilted at an angle as a collection of coins slide out and fingered through while the buyer comes to the right amount. A drink costing 2.95 will usually be paid for with seventeen different coins, with nineteen different denominations. With the amount of 1ps, 2ps and farthings this lot carry around with them, they are never without the correct money (hours of touture when you happen to be standing behind them in the queue for the bar).


As an aside I’d like to point out that that Lesbian Vampire Killers was released in the UK on March 20. Yet the poster advertising it still hangs in the gents (Dan, Dan’s gents) in my local. I wonder why?

I digress.

There’s a english language school in Blackheath and every Thursday night in one of the village pubs where the scene above is acted-out with the added complication of eight or nine students (known locally as the Mind Your Language cast) speaking eight or nine different languages and offering the bar staff a bewildering array of foreign currency. Whatever they’re teaching them up at the school, lesson one isn’t :” Excuse me barman, can I have a pint of extra cold Guinness and a pickled egg, please?”.

Through a series of pointing, nodding and smiling, they return to their table with something vaguely close to what they fancied then proceed to sip, squirm then share each others tipple as they laugh about the stupid English and their rank ales and lagers. We all know that feeling of sampling the local brew. Having travelled my fair share of the world and drunk in a goodly number of its bars and pubs, I’ve never been shy of sampling what the natives drink. Never one for visiting “Ye Old Red Lion” in Marbella, or the “Traditional Oirish Pub” in Tripoli (and we all know the type of Brit to be found therein), it’s always a thrill to enter a hostelry offering potions and tinctures unknown to the bar staff of your local highstreet boozer.

Italian leather coin purse pic

How well I remember my first encounter with grappa in a hotel bar in Milan (in fact I don’t remember much after the second one), or that old bloke in the police bar in Bermuda who once poured me a glass of the island’s special dark rum (his toast being “here’s to whatever happens next”). Drinking Dark and Stormies as the sun sets over the Caribbean or gallons of Three Coins in a bar in the Dutch Fort in Galle, Sri Lanka are always the sort of fond memories I like to take home with me from my little trips. After ten days in the States I even found a beer which I could taste. Honest.

So here’s to the foreign students supping on their first pint of warm British ale. Here’s to the 19 year old lad, studying music at Thames Poly (sorry, Greenwich University) who dares to buy his very first pint that he’s seen those old blokes enjoying. Welcome to our world of exciting and exotic brews and potions. Treat the barman well over the next few decades and he’ll introduce you to untold treasures and pleasures from his House of Fun. Drink to excess what you love, shun and spurn what you hate— there’s plenty of alternatives and options for every taste and you’ll find one you like eventually. But whatever you do, do me a favour: Buy your fucking round.



2 thoughts on “Standing Your Corner

  1. “I’ve never been shy of sampling what the natives drink.” It wasn’t you slitting your wrists in Milan for a pint of Guinness then ????

    • I have grown up since then. After playing spoof for a bottle of grappa I’d have drunk anything to get the taste from my mouth

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