Thursday 29 December 2016

Too much Christmas spirit?

I recently encountered an intriguing little moral dilemma. On Christmas Eve, I was in a Sam Smith’s pub. Feeling a rush of seasonal goodwill, I decided to offer the barman a tip, so when I proferred a fiver for my £1.90 pint of Old Brewery Bitter, I said “and your own”, expecting him to take maybe 20 or 30p.

However, on inspecting my change, I found I had been given just £1.80, indicating that £1.30 had been deducted. Now, I’m sure this was an honest error, and the difference would end up in the till and thus in Humphrey Smith’s pocket, not the barman’s. But, especially given the season, would you quibble about that?

I did, being a notorious tightwad, and the mistake was rectified. But I have to admit to feeling a slight twinge of guilt.


  1. From "Richard Head":

    There's always been a north/south divide about tipping in pubs. I worked in pubs on the Wirral in the late 80s as a teenager and "your own" meant 10p, and it wasn't limited to the festive period. I heard lots of stories from regulars who'd said the same when travelling down south and it implied the cost of a full drink (not so much in those days, but still probably 10 times the northern rate). I rarely go into a pub back north nowadays, so haven't heard the phrase for a while. I was in a London pub recently and some pissed up city-type told the barmaid to take "one for yourself". Hopefully she took the cost of a large G&T at city rates to serve him right.

  2. I've always considered "and one for yourself" to mean just that - the cost of a drink. But then, I'm a southerner and lived in London for many years.

    Politeness dictated that the barman would take a half of standard bitter, and in many, if not most cases, would actually pour himself the half and toast you with it. Whether the money for the half actually went in the till was neither here nor there. I neither checked nor cared.

    Mind you, I'm talking about some years ago now, when the whole pub experience was a much more relaxed affair, where people smoked and barmen drank (and had a fag smouldering in the ashtray at the end of the bar). I haven't been in an English pub for years now - last time was when I was in UK was about eight years ago, and I found them to be a singularly sterile environment; nothing like they were when I was a regular pub-goer in the years up to 2001 when I left UK.

    1. "And your own" is very much a Northern thing. I'm not sure whether it's specific to the North-West or spreads over the Pennines. I think it may be a hangover from the days when waiter service was commonplace.

  3. Took me years to work out what "one for yourself" was about (and that I wasn't going to be stiffed for the price of a drink if I ventured to say it myself - a major consideration considering that I was generally only buying for myself). Taking *more* than the price of a half is an odd mistake, though - either the guy was ripping you off or he genuinely miscounted.

    Glad to see comments reopened, btw. Pee poo willy bum drawers and you're a Blairite.

  4. In Leicester we'd say 'and one for yourself' or 'have a drink yourself' and it means exactly that. There's no cash tip, the bartender is expected to have a pint, but will often take a half or refuse.

  5. 'And your own' I think is a North West thing only. But actually those 10/20ps soon added up when I worked in the Boars Head 10 years ago. In the North East it's a different story - we occasionally get bought drinks ("that's very kind, I'll have a half with you - thanks!") and if not driving always pour it there and then. But here there is also a very definite culture of taking your glasses back to the bar as a thank you, rather than tipping regularly.

  6. When my grandad was a Marstons tenant in the 60s he used to have a gin bottle on the back counter. When offered a drink he would take the money and pour himself a double..water of course. I recognise those genes.

  7. What a bunch of absolute tight arses, if you offer to buy the staff a drink you but them a drink not fucking 10 pence !!


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