Here’s a confession: we don’t actually drink all that much. Sorry, brewers, landlords and British drinking culture in general, but we are letting you down.
We don’t go to the pub every night and, when we do, we rarely get beyond tipsy. At home, it’s unusual for us to drink more than a couple of bottles of beer in a session.
Why? Well, partly because we are the kind of uptight oddballs who don’t much like losing control. Mostly because we hate hangovers. And maybe, just maybe, because we are a little concerned for our long term health.
Contrast that with the stories older relatives tell about drinking ten or twenty pints in a weekend session, having worked up to it with five or six on each preceding night; or the world evoked in this post at Pubs of Manchester; and in this extract kindly sent to us by the Pub Curmudgeon:
It was here that I first became aware of the South Welshman’s peculiar dedication to beer, as a pastime. Three male customers ordered three consecutive rounds of pints. When the first man ordered his second (the fourth) round I realised that these three were stuck for rest of the evening…. It is not so much that the South Welsh drink to excess – rather it is a humorously sly but wholehearted approach to the enjoyment of drinking that endears them to me.
Ben Davis, The Traditional English Pub, 1981
All of these describe a relationship with beer (or booze more generally, or perhaps pubs) which is very different to ours. Is it better? It is probably, to steal a word from Davis, more wholehearted, more passionate and, in some ways, more fun. It might also be a bit more dangerous — something of a dance with the devil.
Is this is why we can’t work up a rage over the price of beer? Because we’re part-timers, amateurs, lightweights? Beer would have to get very expensive indeed before we couldn’t afford a couple of pints or bottles — even of quite strong, high-falutin’ craft beer — if we really wanted them.
The picture above is not us! It’s Bailey’s grandparents in the club, mid-session, c.1980.