Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Swat these flies

I’ve never really understood the appeal of “perpendicular drinking”, although I suppose proximity to the source of supply is an attraction. When I go in a pub a prime consideration is finding somewhere comfortable to sit down.

But it gets beyond a joke when pubs have small serving counters that a couple of barflies can easily block completely. In places like that, surely a sign saying “please move away from the counter once you have been served” would not go amiss.

And it can’t be much fun standing there with other customers constantly jostling you and passing pints over your shoulder. If I had the physique of Wade Dooley I might be sorely tempted to “accidentally” spill a pint over the head of one of these obstructive twats. And then “suggest” he buy me another.


  1. I must admit that since moving away from Stockport to a fair sized city I spend more time standing/sitting at the bar - this is mostly down to lack of seating in the pubs, but it's also nice to chat to the bar staff. I always try to make sure I allow others to get to the bar when it's busy, though.

  2. I think a lot of pubs in the South-East in particular were designed with relatively long counters in the expectation that people would sit or stand at them. In this area, in contrast, the counters in many of the older pubs were originally intended for waiter service.

  3. Unfortunately some people are just plain ignorant and seem to take a perverse delight in blocking other customers from getting served. The strange thing is why do the landlords of these pubs allow this sort of behaviour; especially when it could be costing them trade?

  4. Ditto what Paul says above.

    This has long been something that irritates me.

  5. Any Englishman who sits or stands
    in any Cafe(Pub)needs to thoroughly
    ask themselves some searching question. Just what kind of Britons
    sit or stand in any "pub" seeing
    old soldiers and old ladies huddled
    together outside in the rain and cold. Obviously not the kind of men
    who have medals or honour
    Whiskers ,froth and lily white palms

    Paradise lost

  6. And the buggers invariably look miffed as you try to extract a round of drinks from the six-inch slit of bar that they have accidentally left open.

    Burn them in righteous cleansing fire, I say.

  7. Martin, Cambridge24 November 2009 at 23:03

    A good point rarely made. Too many of the "friendly locals" pubs listed in the GBG, particularly those without a food trade, seem to delight in keeping strangers from ordering a pint.

    South London pubs seem particularly challenging, and sometimes add the phenomenon of only serving you when all locals have been served (having said that the beer in South London is often above average). Acknowledgement of you as you leave, even when you thank the bar staff for a good pint, is often lacking in such pubs.

    It's not sitting at the bar itself I'm against, just the seeming unwillingness to move body or chair a few inches. Your previous points about the unattractiveness of modern pub seating are highly relevant.

  8. I'm not saying nobody should ever stand or indeed sit at the bar, just that they should not obstruct access for other customers. There are quite a few Stockport pubs with short old-style counters that are pretty bad for this.

  9. It can be annoying if they don't allow a speck of light to see the bar, but sometimes these self same barflies are the only ones in the pub in quiet times, keeping the business ticking over.

    Can't disagree with the principle though and removing or reducing the bar stools during known busy sessions should sometimes be considered, as should asking people to move.

    My latest jib is lager drinkers sitting in front of the handpumps so you can't see what's on. Happened to me twice in London at the weekend!

  10. The problem isn't people who like to clog the bar, the problem is having to order at a bar. Why of all the countries of the world do we Brits cling on to self service?

    It's much nicer to have a waiter fetch you stuff. If you want to charge £3 for something that costs 50p in Tesco, how about a bit of added value?

  11. Martin, Cambridge25 November 2009 at 19:17

    Talking of not being able to see the handpumps, I'm also (mildly) irritated by bar staff who greet you with "yes" or "what you want" as you walk toward an empty bar, looking oddly at you as you take a micro-second to see if there's a handpump, and what's on it (and generally I'm happy with a dully national brand rather than an obscurity).

    I presume this is because they expect the answer "Stella" or "lager tops", though I get this service plenty of times in GBG pubs.


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