Americans just do not get pubs, no matter how valiantly they try to steal the concept. Nor do any other foreigners.
Let's get one thing sorted straight away - a pub is not a bar. Nor is it some themed bit of kitsch that marketing has dreamed up.
A bar is a place you go to drink and forget your sad, miserable existence in the company of other incipient alcoholics weeping into their beer in a dark dingy room with pitiless mirrors reflecting back your total failure.
Pub. See the differences?
A typical pub is a lively cross between a labor exchange and a rumor mill, with a side order of brothel and violence, all washed down with watered, overpriced beer. They invariably have a garishly patterned carpet, to hide the bloodstains, vomit and other bodily fluids.
Which do you want - the mans drink or the poof's drink?
A good guv'nor stamps his personality on the pub. His highly opinionated, homophobic and racist personality. Those are his good points.
The Bar Staff
She knows exactly what you want.
If beer is the fuel that makes a pub run, the bar staff are the oil, though frequently no oil paintings. They know what you drink, your business, and usually who you are cheating with and why. Always buy them a drink, as "one for yourself?" is much nicer than paying hush money.
The Pub Beast
A diet of crisps, pork scratchings, peanuts, glasses and the occasional punter plays hell with the figure
Every good pub has an animal. Usually a dog the size of a small horse, with a serious flatulence and drooling problem, but occasionally a tattered, violently aggressive, tomcat with a flatulence and drooling problem.
The Old Guys
Damn kids with their music and not working and sexual freedom
In a corner near the fire, or at least a radiator, you get the old guys, with their flatulence and drooling problems. Sitting, drinking their pints and criticizing every other patron of the pub in a voice that can be heard four miles away. Their advanced age tends to make them immune from the usual violence, though they will cause complete mayhem if they find you sitting in their chair.
The Dog Person
All your lounge bar are belong to us.
They come mincing in with their dogs, occupy as much space as possible, and the pub beast raises a din as it hates these interlopers. If the pub beast is a cat, bet 2 to 1 on the cat to win in under a minute.
The In Crowd
But just try to get to the damned bar ...
This group of friends blocks one end of the bar, monopolises the bar staff's attention, and are actually pretty funny to listen to once they get pissed. Which usually takes about 20 minutes.
Who the hell did you think we'd pick? Rush Limbaugh?
Wandering lonely through the pub, desperately searching for someone to listen to the sad tale of their ineffectual lives. Usually wind up sitting with the old guys, as they cannot escape fast enough.
Ah, they are good lads really.
Normally spilling noisily into the pub at around 7, looking to get hammered and score some coke before trying their luck with the pack and having a minor fight or two. They avoid the tart though - she is mother of at least two of them and they don't wish to hurt her feelings.
He doesn't want to talk to you. Ever.
The Drifter is a loner, doing his self appointed rounds. He slides into the pub, drinks his pint, listens in to a couple of conversations without speaking, then slides out and on to the next pub. Try to talk to him and he'll smile and ignore you like a shit stain on the rug.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
They are out for sex. And not hugely fussy who with, as long as they are under 30, solvent, with a nice car and good job. And if the bloke can run the gauntlet of 15 raucous women.
The Tart, AKA "The Other Pub Beast"
We could have made the picture bigger, but you want to keep your dinner down.
More approachable and less intimidating than the pack, this woman is not looking for Mister Right. Just Mister Right Now. Your admiration for her eel like flexibility, honed through many long years of sex in pub toilets and car backseats, somewhat offsets the self loathing you will feel the following morning.
Ah, I see he is having one of his good days.
Every pub has one. Usually bipolar, and constantly forgetting to take his medication, he will sit and have vehement arguments with himself before screaming abuse at some random passer by. Just ignore him like everyone else does. Letting him in the pub keeps him away from the playground.
Oh, just great. He's only gone and combined the two now
Just - no. These abortions must cease. Stop giving them your trade. So what if the food in your local pub slowly slithers away if you do not stab it promptly, while some gastropub has 3 Michelin Stars. Some overpriced, gussied up menu, does not make up for the minimal character.
And Theme pubs - pale, disinfectant smelling, plastic copies of one pub which organically developed over the years. Why? And why are they always either badly faked Tudor or bloody Irish?
If you must hit a theme pub - make it a German one.
Lets face it. You go to the pub to drink. A decent pub will have 8 or 9 beers on tap, bottled beers for the ones who left their weapons at home, and an entire backbar of spirits. So much choice can be confusing.
If your wallet is as flat as ours, you drink the cheapest, shittiest beer available - usually Fosters. Many pubs do sell Budwieser and Heineken, but a man has to draw the line somewhere, no matter how broke he is.
If you have some money, thanks to a second mortgage or a successful hit, go for real ale. Order your pint and go sit with the failed hippies to talk about it at great length.
Guiness, that sin in the eyes of God, is usually available. Buying a pint of that is a surefire way to piss off the old guys, who regard the Guiness pump as their private stash.
But man cannot live by beer alone. An occaisional morsel of solid food must pass your lips. And the pub can supply it in the fattiest, saltiest form possible, to keep you drinking.
This section sponsered by ....
Yanks call them potato chips, because they have no idea what a chip actually is. Various flavors on offer, and the bar staff are fluent enough in drunkese to know that Zoltan Finger means Salt and Vinegar.
Nuts to you too. Peanuts, both dry roast and salted, cashews, and spiced nuts. Oh, sorry - the pub tart had a curry before coming out.
Affectionately known as pig VD scabs. If you can eat them after that - you can eat anything.
Various Packaged Shit
Crackers, scampi fries, bacon bits that haven't been within a county of a pig, corn snacks that taste like polystyrene, All are available to soak up the beer and prevent you from puking til you get home.
Only for the brave and foolhardy, toasted sandwiches and pickled eggs are offered, not for food, but more for the bet of how close you can get to the toilet before you imitate a volcano in full eruption.
Pubs, in order to keep you drinking until the other pub beast looks like Angelina Jolie, have many diversions.
Not a fucking chance. Just don't even go there.
No. Not machines where you can hire a rent boy. One armed bandits, with a payout rate that makes Vegas weep with envy. The bright flashing lights entice in anyone who is over the 4 pint level, and rapidly vaccuums their wallet dry. Consider it a public service to prevent alcohol poisoning.
A-ha-ha-nah. You forgot to say the magic word.
Similar to fruit machines, in that they will take your money, but requiring enough sobriety to read and comprehend the questions, and to actually hit the correct answer. Avoid at all costs - you cannot win.
You might want to slow down on the tequila slammers.
Found in many decent pubs. Well worth playing, especially when the local shark is on his 9th pint. Your one chance to get back some of the money you are pissing down the urinal.
We'd make this a metaphor for sex, but the pub tart is no where near as difficult to nail.
What fucking idiot decided that excessive alcohol and razor sharp flying objects went together? Impromptu piercings aside, the ability to do simple mathematics while drunk as hell is a life skill worth learning.
Fight in 5, 4, 3, 2 ....
Most pubs show the major sports fixtures, to boost the daytime drinking on the weekends. Punters rapidly and painfully learn which pub houses which supporters. If the regulars are cheering Man U, leave at once. You are better than that.
With the simple efficiency that has made Germany a byword for brutality, German pubs are stripped to the basics. Benches, tables and a serving hatch. The atmosphere is provided by the patrons, so there is a distinct lack of warmth and laughter. Have you ever seen a funny German?
3/10 - the beer is so damned good though.
The Italians are as familiar with the idea of a pub as they are with the concept of personal space. Though they try, the pubs in Italy wind up looking like a cave. The bloody uncomfortable metal chairs that are standard fittings do not encourage you to linger.
5/10 - Noisy, uncomfortable and crowded. Getting there!
What can we say. The Irish produce perfect pubs. We guess they have to be good at something besides violence and hating the English.
10/10 - no comment
Boring, overdecorated ripoffs of Irish pubs, where faux age is used to set the atmosphere. The only plus is the seats are very comfortable, encouraging you to sit your fat ass down.
2/10 - stick with bars, you do them better
As befits denizens of Hell on Earth, where every drink may be your last, Aussie pubs are pretty basic, but cover all the right points. The descendants of convicts and optimists produce a fine pub going culture.
9/10 - point knocked off for the danger of imminent death
Run by a lone and beleaguered Englishman, for a customer base consisting entirely of folks from the Falklands, South Africa, Cyprus, India and everywhere else that England has fucked over the years. British Expat Pubs are just a source of joy if you enjoy watching flustered East London publords try to justify British foreign policy fifty times an evening to a pissed off populace. The toilet graffiti in these places is legendary. (Report filed by Tanager, our roving reporter, shortly before his recent disappearance.)
6/10 - keeping the flag flying is a futile exercise