Friday, 16 June 2017

Unsociable drinking

Boak and Bailey recently posted a story from Bailey’s mum about how one pub went about turning casuals into regulars:
The second time we went into The Cobblestones the landlady came over and said, ‘Right, if you’re going to be coming in regularly, I ought to know your names.’
Now, my response was that I wouldn’t be too keen on that approach, and RedNev’s comment further down was in agreement.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m being antisocial. People are very different – some are naturally gregarious, others more reserved, and what comes across as a friendly welcome to one may seem intrusive to another. I’d be the first to admit I’m not the person who leads the conga line, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be open and sociable in the right context.

I have written before about how one of the great glories of pubs is that, by and large, you can choose to what extent you interact with others and, if you prefer to, you will be left alone to mind your own business. For many people of a quieter disposition, the very act of going to the pub acts as a social outlet even if they don’t get drawn into a session of lively banter.

There is an art to conversation that can draw people out without needing to put them on the spot or expecting them to reveal anything they don’t feel comfortable with. Very often it starts with that old cliché, talking about the weather. I choose what I divulge to others, and at what pace. Some may regard it as showing an interest, but to my mind being quizzed as to “What’s your name? Where do you come from? What are you doing here? How did you get here?” is a sure-fire recipe for ensuring I don’t go back.

12 comments:

  1. That's hardly and inquisition Mudgie:)

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  2. It may be part of the game to initiate possible conversation but I feel funny starting a conversation with the weather. I am more likely to comment on the current pub, beer or the town/city/village I am visiting. And then start the inquisition...

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    1. The ladies in my local supermarket actually get a bit cheesed off if you mention the weather! No-one ever talks about anything else with them, especially on days when the weather is irregular!

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    2. On the other hand, I wouldn't appreciate it if the checkout assistant said "You come here every week. Tell me a bit more about yourself."

      It can come across as intrusive if they start commenting on the contents of your trolley, like the one played by Caroline Aherne in the Fast Show. "There's an awful lot of booze here, Sir. Are you having a party?"

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  3. It's the law in England that you MUST discuss the weather. Failure to do so in Deal will see you carted off to the remains of Dover Castle (probably now a micropub)

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    1. In order to be in the pubs and have the cask ales, if I must discuss weather, I will definitely discuss weather. Unless, of course, Dover Castle is a micropub.

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  4. Couldn't agree more. I'm less shy than I used to be, but I would have very mixed feelings about being greeted by the landlord/lady in that way - welcoming, yes, but part of me would be thinking "right, if you're going to be trying to engage me in conversation, I might as well do my reading somewhere else". People are different.

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    1. Yes, and being pestered by customers when you just want to sit quietly and read is another issue - often the solo drinker seems to a a magnet for the pub nutter :-(

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  5. Almost as bad as 'Is your meal OK?' in a restaurant or 'Did you find everything you need?' in a shop or the moronic 'Are you alright?'. If I require assistance I am quite capable of asking, thank you very much, otherwise please leave me alone.

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  6. The Blocked Dwarf18 June 2017 at 15:13

    In such questions I keep to the formula "WWGDHS" or " What Would Granddad Dwarf Have Said" , or sometimes even what he did say as he groomed me to follow in his footsteps pushing liquid narcotics onto innocent passersby.

    I think in this case his reply would have been "Anyone can learn to pull a halfway decent pint but being able to 'read' a new customer is either something you're born with or you learn through years behind the bar". A good publican will 'know' with the gnosis of all Mine Hosts if a customer wants to chat or would rather be left in peace. Does the customer have a book under his arm? Does he glance around to make sure there isn't one of them new fangled 'juke box' thingys? Does he sit in the armchair, at a single table or does he stay at the bar?

    Mind you Granddad Dwarf ran his pubs in a time when the lines of social demarcation, social standing and degrees of wealth were still a lot easier to discern from a glance. If I saw someone enter these days with a book under his arm I'd think 'Bloody Christian' and shout at him to take his God bothering elsewhere as this was a respectable house.

    Oh yes, the 'Pub Nutter'- aren't they illegal these days? Second hand insanity? Used be every decent pub had it's trinity of a bore, a slapper and a nut job.

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    1. I love the "Bloody Christian" part the most.

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  7. '... but to my mind being quizzed as to “What’s your name? Where do you come from? What are you doing here? How did you get here?” is a sure-fire recipe for ensuring I don’t go back.'

    Indeed. In that respect (as well as some others), pubs are no different to churches.

    Churchmouse

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