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Thread: The Horse and Groom.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Horse and Groom.

    The Horse and Groom.

    I suppose in a way that I am lucky in having a sympathetic understanding of both: my own people and that of a non-native.
    Reference in this instance is to the traditional old English pub and its interactions with long standing clientel.

    It is Bank Holiday Sunday here in the UK, bright & sunny, where one traditionally indulges in the ritual of a few pints of ale, prior to returning home for the roast beef & potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and lots of rich dark brown gravy.

    But there are differences / nuances with English pubs that you should be aware of, especially those old country ones with established customers. You would think that when you buy a pint in an English pub, that you are automatically a participant. Ah no!!. It’s akin an informal club where you have to be a regular, before you are accepted and it could be weeks before anyone actually bids “Good day.”

    So, you approach with caution and patience.

    The watering hole on this occasion was “The Horse and Groom” in Old Hatfield; 17th century, low entry doorway, flagged stone floor, exposed timber beams, inglenook fireplace, real ale; the full Monty.

    But then I was supposed to be among my own after 5 months in foreign climes.

    Politeness was to the fore. In fact, I honestly think that if the English were to kill someone, their mantra would be that it costs nothing to be polite. The beer was excellent, but at four pounds fifty a pint, it should have been.

    After a modest intake, the scenario struck me as something out of a John Le Carre novel. I sat down with my back to the wall and took in my surroundings. The odd side glance from the regulars to sus you out. The inglenook cubbyhole filled up quickly with silver haired retirees with their gin & tonics and repartee on the Ashes. I even recognised a reader from the church, now visibly red faced and older than before. Blood pressure I thought, and how long to go?

    One was even more aware of scrutiny when approaching the bar for a refill, when I was obliged to speak in front of surrounding attuned radar. I toyed with the idea of an Irish or Russian accent, but on this occasion behaved myself.

    I suppose a couple more visits and I might get the barmaid chatting about the weather. But till then, with a couple of pints, Jack Daniels & coke under my belt I was ready to leave.

    A final twist in the tale. My adopted Nigerian daughter breezed into the pub having dropped me off earlier by car.

    “Hello Dad. Ready to go?”

    Now that should really have got them taking!!

  2. #2
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    More helpful anthropology, Cookie. The English pubs I have been to were all London pubs (the last in Hammersmith, I think). I found them enormously welcoming, but that no doubt was the result of good manners (as you say) being extended to a foreigner. The only vaguely anti-Yank sentiment I encountered was warm and friendly somehow. A curious mob of locals gathered around and one of them told me politely enough that most Americans patronized a pub nearby. I replied frankly: "Who wants to drink with Americans?" The fellow nearest me twisted up a huge smile and said in mock earnestness (as if not wishing to contradict me): "Now ain't that the bloody truth!" I laughed and they all laughed when they saw I wasn't offended and all afternoon I had friends. I'm sure the experience would have been colder, though, if I had been English and a first timer.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-25-2019 at 11:06 AM.

  3. #3
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    "Spooky" as Dame Edna would say.


    I was born just down the road from Hammersmith in West Kensington. Hammersmith in those days had a reputation for being rough, with many fights in the numerous Irish pubs. But glad you were streetwise enough to deal with a bit of milarky when you were there.

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    Ah, well in my time there were plenty of real Boston-Irish pubs in the city. They were their own thing--not Irish-Irish exactly but potentially rough or friendly depending on whether anyone was looking for trouble. They've mostly been replaced by faux-Irish tourist pubs these days--not that I drink anymore. I miss the smell of a fresh Guinness, though, I must say.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-26-2019 at 07:58 AM.

  5. #5
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    There once was a horse and a groom
    Whose discourse fell on Molly Bloom.
    "If she were my daughter,"
    Confessed the stout trotter,
    "She'd be sent sans her hay to her room."

    Good Lord that was a weird one! Anyway, I bumped it up.

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