Today’s post has been inspired by top beer blogger Mudge. In attempting to improve the shoddy behaviour of pub goers, and in particular CAMRA members, he has in my opinion been unfairly criticised.
I think much of the disagreement comes out of looking at only one of the many disgraceful actions of the pub going of his beer club by it’s members, rather than provide a guide to pub etiquette for regular drinkers.
So may I attempt to define one? After all, one is clearly required. You can only combat ignorance with education.
The pub goer ought not to expect standards of service common in other retail outlets or even common across the bars of Europe. The UK pub is an environment all it’s own and those foolhardy enough to venture into them ought not to think that experience of other customer outlets is at all relevant. Nope, this represents ignorance of the highest order. A degree of ignorance on a par with drinking anything that is a popular national brand and is available “on keg”
Upon venturing into a pub one ought first to expect to pay top dollar for mediocrity. Any other expectation is plain ignorance. Take out a second mortgage for you will be paying prices 6 times that of a cheap can of supermarket lager for the privilege of drinking it out of a glass. Expect the glass to be scratched and displaying the faded name of a beer quite different to that in the glass, the one you have asked for. Do not expect the standard of cleanliness you might expect at home. The table will be sticky with the dried beer stains of previous customers; the seats stained with peculiar unidentifiable marks and the toilets are best left not ventured into.
I say this because pub toilets are best left, full stop. Better to hold it than ever contemplating stepping foot in one. To do so might involve the type of shock that will require therapy, at great expense and many years.
You cannot expect to sit down and be served a drink, expect to go to the bar. Do not expect a smile, expect a surly weary resignation by the person who is about to pour you a drink and charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege. You have received a great compliment by being served at all, the bar staff are within their right to ignore you completely whilst they piss about with the till for half an hour. You have to remember that as a customer you are an impediment to the smooth running of their pub and be grateful for what you receive. Expect any number of fonts to be “off”, and the choice to be far smaller than it initially appears. Never expect ice in any drink. Expect no clear indication of the sum of monies you will be asked to hand over prior to asking for your pint. This great mystery is part of the tradition and character of the great British pub and to question it is too show your great ignorance. Only expect that when you eventually discover the price, it is likely to be eye watering.
This great institution must be supported, and it is your great privilege to pay top dollar for what elsewhere might be considered overpriced mediocrity. By doing so you are displaying your great enlightened wisdom. After drinking your drink, take your empty glass to the bar. If you have an empty plate take that too alongside any empty crisp and peanut bags. At the bar ask for a dishcloth and bottle of cif cleaner and proceed to clean the pub. Also ask whether they want the toilet cleaned too. Do not think for one minute that the pub employs people to do that, and it is their job of work. Do not show your outstanding ignorance; accept the great privilege of them allowing you in to spend your money in their boozer. The people employed to pour drinks, take orders, clear and clean tables are best at laconically pissing about with the till, or reading a newspaper behind the bar and ignoring any punter that walks in.
So don’t be ignorant. Once you’ve paid an arm and a leg for an overpriced beer and fetched it yourself from the bar, be prepared to take the empty glass back to the bar. If you don’t offer to do the washing up to boot, you are frankly pig ignorant. Also stick a mop up your arse so you might clean the floor on your way out.
And don’t for one minute think it’s easier to just pop into Tesco’s for a slab of lovely cheap grog as that’s ignorant too. Remember these important rules and one-day you too can find yourself drinking in one of Britain’s great pubs and doing your bit to save them from extinction.
Well said, Mudge!