Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Work - Pub

I've just finished explaining the form, function and fine etiquette of trolling down the pub from work to Lexie. He stopped making eye contact and concentrated on his pasta before I even got to past Legal & General.

"Go away and do what you have to do on the computer."


"Before I count to three."

"You want me to go on the computer?"

"One . . . .two . . . two and a half . . . ."

That's when I started typing. After two and a half. The discovery of a lifetime, afternoon, er, somewhere inbetween. How to get peace while I type. Bore the eyebrows off everyone. Boring done, we can continue.

When half of Lexxie's left eyebrow had dissolved, a thought struck me a glancing blow. "Why not write about the work pub dynamic?" Loads of pseudo-sociological stuff and dim recollections of postprandial pissups as padding. Tastobrillic.

The customs surrounding drinking in conjunction with work are as varied as some incredibly varied thing. (Five minutes is long enough to try thinking up a good simile. I'll use the Blackadder defence.)

I've worked in a few towns and a few countries. Nowhere, in my experience, matches Britain, and in particular London, in its dedication to pissing it up down the boozer during or after work. Lloyd George - bastard - put paid to pre-work pub fun.

Here's an overview of my work/boozer experience:

West Yorkshire Passenger Transit, Leeds, 1979
Every Friday, after we got our paypackets everyone went to the Highland Laddie. Considering me a middle-class ponce, my Tetley's Mild drinking abilities were unexpected. Three or four pints in 25 minutes.

Legal & General, Surrey, 1983-1984
A dream job, in a way. My first employment as a programmer. The canteen had a licensed bar. And they had cask beer. And it was cheaper than in a pub. The food wasn't bad, either. On a side note, it's where my career as IT professional began. But they had a bar in the canteen! With good, cheap beer!

That wasn't good enough. Friday lunch, everyone went down the pub. Restraint isn't my middle name. I'm more a get two pints and a couple of double short in on last orders type of bloke. I found my colleagues a bit overenthusiastic. Office work tempered my thirst: three pints in an hour.

Oh dear. I forgot about London. When I worked in the arms factory in 1978. Shit. I didn't want to mention that. You'll think I'm a nazi. What the hell. It's a good tale. And involves Matt. I'll tell you tomorrow. Promise.


The Beer Nut said...

The employees of an august and venerable library I used to work in used one of the local pubs as a bank. Everyone would roll in on Friday evening and put their wages behind the bar. What was left by Monday could be withdrawn as required for food, children's clothes and other non-essentials.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, since the 1980's at least, and as is well known I think, North Americans have eschewed the lunchtime drink. It may happen occasionally but in general is frowned on, and properly so really (considering too here many meetings are attended by people who drive back to their office after).

Of course like anywhere in the world people sometimes meet after work for a drink.

I do recall though in the 1970's in Montreal - before the changing of habits as mentioned - that sometimes we would escape the office mid-day for a meal and a couple of "draft" as we called it. This was a fizzy tap beer from one of the big Canadian brewers. While not great beer by today's standards, I liked it and still do sometimes (e.g., I mentioned Labatt 50 draft recently, a good example of Canadian sparkling ale -our version of the circa-1910 English dinner and gem ales).

This draft went well with the food of "la taverne" in Montreal, a curious but effective amalgam of 1800's English dishes (e.g., sausages and stewed onions, or roast beef), old French country dishes (e.g., the famed tourtiere, or pieds de porc), Italian dishes (spaghetti, pizza, ainsi que la cotlette de veau) and Jewish foods (e.g., smoked meat, which is Montreal's salt beef).

The old tavern, which did not allow female entry, is no more. There are successor establishments, called la brasserie, which are okay, mais moi je prefere la taverne d'autrefois, comme par exemple celle possedee par le Pocket Rocket - Henri Richard, brother to the famed hockey player Maurice Richard and very skilled in his own right. It was on avenue des Pins in Montreal, which we called Pine Avenue. I recall pleasant afternoons there, off a flank of Mount Royal in Montreal (the hill which dominates the city) after a hard day's study on Saturday at McGill University. The good old days.


Anonymous said...

Before computers ruined it all, the three-pint lunchtime was standard for journalists. Alas, much more than a pint, and the ability to do on-screen layout evaporates.

Matt said...

I wouldn't concern yourself about having worked in an arms factory. As a socialist, I can assure you the only people who will have a pop at you on that score are middle-class moralists and pacifists. The Russian armaments workers not only supported the 1917revolution but were instrumental in the Bolsheviks getting hold of weapons.

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, I wasn't directly making things that killed people, so that makes me feel a little better. Though some of my handiwork almost certainly ended up in the South Atlantic.