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Overseas – When You Can’t Take Us With You
So you have just booked your tickets to attend the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Guess what? You’re screwed. They are finished. Jet passes are non-refundable. Nobody will buy them on eBay. You already have vacation time approved with the boss. Dude, are you dumb or what?
I’m going anyway
Since you have to make the trip to Beatles country, you will be doing some serious sightseeing – like going to all the pubs near your hotel, The Goring at Beeston Place. You’ve ever pressed the fool button thinking Britain has the same seasons as Australia (an honest mistake – no). You don’t want to look like an idiot when you can’t find Fast Eddies in Trafalgar Square. Forced to visit an inferior European surrogate, you need to get up to speed on the differences between a London tavern-slash-pub and one in the good old USA
Tally ho, boyo. The pub is an abbreviated version of the establishment known as the “public house”. It’s kind of like a gathering place for the whole neighborhood. Think “Cheers”, where everyone knows your name. The person who owns it has a bunch of different nicknames. Owner, host, governor (or correctly pronounced “Guv’nor”) of publican.
Bring me a pint
Forget sitting at a table and having someone waiting for you. As a customer, you order and pay directly at the bar, then bring your drink to the stand. Let the bartender know you’re ready to order by holding the cash in your hand. Credit card? Not likely. Get your books from an ATM or from your wallet.
Have you made friends? Usually one or two people go to the bar to do the shopping for the whole table. If you’re hungry for bangers or fish and chips, pay for them at the bar and a waiter will deliver. When you decide to move to a new place, leave all your gear at the table. The staff will take care of it.
You don’t have to buy anything with alcohol at the pub. Have a coffee or a Granini. Mixed drinks? Perish the thought of ordering a daiquiri or margarita. You are limited to vodka, rum, whiskey or gin with water or a mixer. Beer is a better bet. Ask the bartender how strong the brew is if you’re looking to get pounded before partying with Price Harry.
Getting a lager, bitter, stout or ale comes in a full pint unless you specify you only want a half pint. In terms of measurement, a UK pint equals 20 ounces. And the cost of the hard stuff will be the same from pub to pub. It’s the law.
You call that beer?
It won’t be as cold as in America. Another thing is even if you order a Bud; it will please the taste buds of the Briton. This means it will be a little different on your tongue. One to try that is more like a session beer is Newcastle. It’s quite mild when it comes to alcohol content.
Thank you for the service
You will never have to tip in a pub. However, if you drink in restaurants, 10% is acceptable. Fifteen percent is royal. You can offer a pub employee a drink. Never say “Can I buy you a drink?” It will make them feel like a charity case. Instead, use phrases like, “Can I buy you a drink?” or “…how about one for yourself?” They’ll probably just charge you for an extra pint, drinking it at the end of their shift. But they don’t have to wait. There are no laws against dismissing a few while they are at work – in moderation.
Interact with natives
The cat is not prohibited. Throwing up the paw for a handshake with the announcement, “Hey Buddy, I’m (your name) from (your country, state, or city)” makes you look like a tool. Have you ever freaked yourself out thinking the 2012 Summer Olympics are about to begin. Don’t become an extra ruby. Never invite yourself to a table. At the bar, sit down and wait for a moment when you can enter into conversation. To start, talk about beer, a place you just visited, or the old standby – the weather.
Debates can break out. Friendly discussions. You are not Rush Limbaugh. You are a former statesman. Respect the point of view of others. Don’t be arrogant or rude. People in England won’t smack you in the jaw in the pub. They will wait until you are outside before slapping your head.
If someone offers to get a pint for you, take advantage of it. The next one is on you.
They closed the shop early in old Londontown. Like 11pm on weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday is half an hour earlier. When you hear the Guv’nor ring the bell once, it means you must place your final order. The second bell means that the bar will no longer serve drinks. There’s this thing called “drinking time.” This means you have 20 minutes to swallow whatever is in front of you.
Sure, you missed the curling competition at the Summer Olympics, but don’t worry. Curling is only played during the winter version.
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