I would hope my earlier blog on pub etiquette will have given you the basics and the confidence to enter a pub without making a complete tit of yourself. Today’s blog builds on that and gives you more valuable information to allow you to weave your through the minefield that is pub etiquette.
Seating in a pub is a valuable commodity and there are many rules involved in obtaining a seat.
If you enter a pub and there is a sign saying ‘Wait here to be seated’, beware. You have been tricked into visiting a chain restaurant masquerading as a pub. These places have been specially designed for grumpy Dads to look more miserable as their kids run havoc, beating up a spotty teenager in a bear costume. Avoid at all costs.
If you find yourself in a normal pub and there is a table free, you are more than welcome to sit there. Please note that I said ‘table’. If there is a spare seat at an occupied table you are no more welcome to sit there than you are to wander into a stranger’s sitting room and join them on the settee for Coronation Street.
No amount of cheery ‘We’ll just join these chaps’ will make it acceptable. In fact it will make it infinitely worse (talking to strangers will be covered later.)
You wouldn’t climb into somebody’s car at the traffic lights and sit in their passenger seat, why do it in a pub?
Try and choose your table with others in mind. If you are in a couple, don’t sit at the biggest table in the pub, leave it for big groups.
If you see a couple on a giant table and there are no other seats, this may be the one exception where you could ask to sit at the same table. This is very rare and I am talking about a table the size that King Henry XIII would eat his bait off.
If you have a table and not enough seats, it is perfectly acceptable to ask to take a spare one from another table but you must ask. The standard terminology is “Is this anybody’s seat mate?” or the equally acceptable “Is anybody sitting here?” You have to be careful to use the correct body language showing that you intend to take the seat away and not join them at the table. If you get it wrong they will make up an imaginary friend and your chance of a seat will be gone.
If you notice a table become free, you need to act quickly. There is a complex equation regarding proximity, place in virtual queue for seating and size of group but the most important factor is speed. Everyone will instinctively know who is entitled to the table but if you don’t take it immediately when it is rightfully yours, your chance will be gone.
By immediately I mean when all present incumbents have left. To sit at their table whilst they are still finishing their pints or putting on their coats is akin to having a dump on the dining table during Christmas dinner.
Some people can think of nothing worse than sitting down in the pub, they see it as a slur on their masculinity. If you are one of these people, fine, but remember that the bar’s primary function is for people to get served, not to keep you upright. If somebody needs serving, move out of the way.
Just because you stand there every day until you wet yourself doesn’t give you the right to impede other’s progress.
The type of person who props up the bar is also usually the sort of person who speaks to strangers. Why on earth would you want to do that?
Talking to strangers
Most of us will have been told by our parents never to talk to strangers. You may have thought they were trying to protect you from predatory seventies DJs but they were more than likely preparing you for a life of drinking in pubs.
A certain amount of interaction with strangers is inevitable in a pub. Knowing when to start and when to stop is as crucial as knowing when to breathe in and when to breathe out.
Imagine how much nonsense you have to listen to from taxi drivers, now imagine if they were drunk. That’s what the pub talker is like. Opinionated, a little bit racist, inevitably wrong with every single opinion, they are a gigantic pain in the arse. Do not be that person.
Of course you can’t spend all of your time in a pub being mute, you need to be sociable occasionally. One line, one sentence is all you are allowed. Make it a good one and move on. If someone uses their one liner on you, you are entitled to one of your own. You must then retreat to a safe distance to ensure that you are far enough away from each other that there isn’t any awkwardness and a need to carry on the conversation.
I will come onto pub toilet rules in another blog but the absolute maximum you are allowed to say at a urinal is “alright mate?”
If you are in a group and are beside another group, a certain amount of interaction is allowed but both groups must respect the boundaries.
If anyone in your group thinks they are involved in ‘banter’ they should be evicted from the pub and their number deleted from your phone immediately.
I have barely scratched the surface with pub etiquette but I hope I have been of some help. More to follow later.