The name of this blog is "The Southsider", which is the name of the pub that I frequent several times a week. I have attached a photo of the establishment below:To the uninitiated, a pub may simply appear to be a drinking house. However, this is only a small part of the picture. The British pub is a tradition here which stretches back to the bronze age, where "pub" is a shortened version of "public house". The purpose of the pub is to act a place where anyone (over the age of 18) can come and drink in a relaxed atmosphere. The pub still fulfills this purpose, and is frequented regularly by all members of society. Certain pubs tend to attract particular groups of people, e.g. students, workers, veterans, sports fans, etc. but in most pubs you will find a mixture of people from all walks of life. It is no accident that the two most popular soap operas here ("Coronation Street" and "Eastenders") have a pub at their core. The pub is a place to gather with colleages, friends, and locals after work to unwind and discuss the days events. After a hard day at work, there is nothing like a good night at the pub with friends to cheer oneself up. The Southsider is my favourite place to meet as it is close to work, popular with friends, and has a good selection of beers.The consumptions of alcohol is only the secondary purpose of the pub. In fact, it is not necessary to drink alcohol at all, though it is accepted practice to order something when inside a pub, even if it is just a coke. The staff in a pub are not there to try and sell you as much drink as possible, instead they are there to ensure the smooth running of the establishment, and to take a background role. Getting drunk in a pub is discouraged, and the staff will generally refuse to serve anyone who appears intoxicated. Most pubs are open all day until late at night (midnight or 1am) and therefore can be visited at any reasonable time. It is not customary to tip the pub staff, unless they are serving food. Most pubs also serve a range of low-cost food, and a "pub lunch" is a frequent occurence in my timetable. Many pubs also provide some additional entertainment at certain times, e.g. quiz nights, live music, stand-up comedy, screenings of sporting events, etc. Also, many special interest groups meet in the pub, e.g. Linux user-groups, book groups, etc. In short, the pub is really at the center of British culture in many different ways.Most countries in Europe have something similar to the pub. However, at the risk of sounding anti-American (which I am not), I have yet to find anything which fulfills the same purpose in the USA. Here are some things that are not the same as a pub:
- A bar is superficially similar to a pub, but does not serve the same purpose. In particular, most bars that I have visited seem to be almost exclusively populates by men of lower incomes. On the other hand, a pub in the UK is frequented by all members of society, and is just as likely to contain young women as old men. A pub is a focal point for the community, not just a meeting place for a small minority. I will save a discussion of American beer for another entry, but it must be an acquired taste!
- A theme pub (e.g. a fake Irish pub) closely resembles a pub in appearance, but the atmosphere is all wrong. The commercial focus of the pub is off-putting, and the inhabitants always seem to be all British ex-pats and tourists who are desperate for a real pub!
- A cafe has a similar atmosphere to a pub, though usually a bit more formal. Most cafes are not open until the early hours of the morning, and of-course the drug of choice is caffeine. Cafes do not have the same social-inclusiveness of a pub, and they are considerably more commercial in nature.
I would love to find something that serves the same function as a pub in the USA, but I have been unable to find it on my regular visits. Recently, a group of us were wandering around Manhattan late in the night desparately searching for a place to have a quiet drink, but all we could find were dodgy bars and expensive restaurants! In the end, we simply retired to the hotel cafe for a caffeine injection. I would love to be proved wrong, but I guess it is just a cultural thing!Chris