Of all the things that are unique about British culture, it doesn’t get much more unique than pub culture. Travel across the world and you’ll find arrangements that are kind of like the pubs that many Brits call their second home, but it’ll never quite be the same.
And if you’re new to the UK, as many people are, then you might just be a little bit confused by what you find there. A place that brings the whole community together, where you buy alcohol, packets of crisps, and just maybe punch the pads of a fruit machine and lost money? Sounds pretty special. Here’s your guide to making sure
What’s Yours, Mate?
You’ve successfully found yourself in a pub that actually looks alright! Yes, this will do just fine. Now you’re in, walk up to the bar and engage eye contact with the person behind the bar. Throw a smile in too, if you’d like, though this isn’t essential (but come on: politeness). If the bar is busy, then you might have to wait a short while before you’re served. A golden rule (that isn’t always observed) is that you should let anyone who arrived at the bar before you get served before you. When you’re about to be served, you’ll be asked some variation of, ‘what’s yours mate?’ And what is yours, mate? Well, whatever you fancy. Generally speaking though, people don’t tend to order fancy cocktails when they go to the pub. Stick to something simple and to the point.
Come On, [Sports Team]!
If you’re visiting the pub with a group of males, then you’ll have to brush up on sports and the associated culture. For example, betting is a big part of sports in the UK. Read up on football accumulators and tote explained by Betting Gods and you’ll impress your fellow pub goers. If there’s a sport match taking place, it’s important that you know which supporters are in the pub. For example, if you’re in a pub populated by Manchester United fans and celebrate a Manchester City goal, you’re asking to be heckled. Unless you’re in a rough pub, nothing terribly bad will happen to you, but do you really want to be exiled from a pub for an error that could be avoided?
Be Whoever You Are
One of the best things about British pubs is that you’re allowed to turn up and be whoever it is you want to be. If you’re not feeling overly social, you can still go along, order a beer, and sit in the corner as you contemplate life. No one will bother you or think you’re strange for turning up by yourself. You’ll see a range of characters in any pub with a bit of soul, and they’re all welcome, from the rambling elderly men to workers to groups of young males on their first outing.
Read the Mood
That being said, it’s a good idea to read the mood of a pub. In the really good pubs, singalongs and guitar playing and a bit of good old ruckus is permitted, but if it’s a relaxed saturday afternoon then it might not be appreciated by the other patrons. Similarly, if you go to a popular pub on a Saturday night and want to occupy your own table as you read a book then you can, but it’s probably better to show a bit of consideration and let other people join you at the table, at least.
A Few Don’ts….
It depends where you are, of course, but there are a few things that are generally frowned upon in a pub. For starters, don’t worry about getting a bit drunk in a pub; most people will be anyway. But you shouldn’t get too hammered that you make a show of yourself. Being sick or turfed out of a pub for unruly behaviour is not the way to act in a classic British pub. The general message is: be cool. Don’t cause too much of a fuss or be a nuisance; people go to pubs to relax. Everything else is mostly cool, though!
There’s a great quote from an American visitor to the UK, who described pubs as “communal living rooms”, and really that just about nails it. Act in the same way you would in your own home and you will fit right in. Ultimately it’s all about relaxing, soaking up the British atmosphere, and having a few cracking conversations with strangers as you share a drink. Enjoy!