Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This is a mixture of a couple of posts really. For some time I've had the vague idea of writing something on the joys of the British pub. I even handwrote another one some months ago when I was sitting in a pub waiting to meet some people, but that never even made it to a draft post on my blog. It languishes, like an old sarong wearing Sri Lankan sitting on a balcony and watching the world go by, in the depths of my journal, probably spitting betel juice at passers by.
Then, last Saturday, I was in my local enjoying a quick pint. I took my journal, sat there and wrote. This is what happened, stream of consciousness stuff. I realised afterwards that this is actually my third handwritten post, you'll see that I wasn't sure about it at the time. Maybe it's just me but I find that there's something markedly different between the way I write on paper compared with something that I decide I'll type straight into draft mode as a blog post.
It might be to do with the sensation of actually putting pen to paper and may also be to do with how I think when I'm not sitting in front of a computer. In one way it's more spontaneous and in another it's more pensive. The spontaneity comes from whacking stuff down, then it's there, rarley do I cross things out. The pensiveness comes from the fact that I think more before I put pen to paper, for fear of writing even more total gibberish than normal. Here goes:
"It's 9PM and it's Saturday night, as you may have figured out from the title. This is my second attempt at a handwritten post, though thinking about it, it may be my third. Either way, as before, I'll take a picture of this and chuck it into the post after typing it out word for word, typos and all.
I've got three "local" pubs, literally at the end of my road. The one I'm sitting in now is my favourite, though I haven't really tried the other two properly. One of them is a trendied up student type of place, in which I wouldn't be seen dead, and the other is a very nice place that's been done up and gastropubbed to the nth degree. It's got a wine list and a menu and is always busy with couples and middle class England.
This one though, The Swan, is a proper English spit and sawdust pub, the type of institution that makes me feel good to be British in the same way that eating with my fingers makes me feel good to be Sri Lankan.
The Great British Pub is Great and it's British and I haven't seen it anywhere else in the world. Even here in Britain they're a dying breed and every time I come here I wonder if it makes any money and, if so, how come. It's a biggish building on a decent size plot of land yet I don't think I've even seen more than about 25 people in it.
There are no frills to it. There are board games, a clientele, though that might be a word that's far too sophisticated for them, that's always pissed and a landlady who's so ugly and lacking in style that she'd probably fail to make the runners up section in the British Ugly Pub Landlady of the Year awards.
If it helps you to get a picture of the place then I'll add something. The first time I came here was some weeks ago with Ozcuz and he was, without a doubt, the most cultured person in the pub (apart from me of course) and he's Australian. Unbelievable, but true.
Sitting here, writing in my journal, is only slightly less risky than taking off all my clothes, standing on a table and shouting something like
"I'm gay and I hate all you English bastards."
Yet funnily enough I feel as safe as houses. In other ways it's a fantastic environment to sit quietly and have a drink. You can chat to people or just keep yourself to yourself and it's got Brit Pub feeling as if you're balancing on a knife edge but having fun while doing it.
It's got painted "writing" on the walls. One phrase says
"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."
Another says "If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there."
Very wise and true statements, both credited to "Anon", clearly a smart person. He's probably not the bloke sitting behind me, who I've just heard trying to chat up the landlady
"You're a good looking woman, it won't take you long to get yourself another bloke."
There's golf on the TV, a sport that I'm with Mark Twain on. If I ever start to play golf I don't think I'll deserve to play the drums too.
As I write this I'm aware that my writing's getting a bit blurred. It's not my fault. The single best thing about this pub is that it serves draft Asahi. The dry and delicious Japanes lager and it's even better served from a tap than in bottles. As things stand I'm almost at the end of my second pint.
I think I'll leave you with that. This may never turn out to be a post, we'll see. The more important thing is that I'm going to get myself some delicious Nasi Goreng from the excellent noodle bar almost next door. Perhaps with some prawns too.
There you have it, a little snippet from my Saturday night. As in those other post I apologise for the sad state of my handwriting. Also, as I typed this out I realised that there is one place in the world in which I've seen the British pub, actually done better, and that's Ireland.