Modern Pubmanship 5: Christmas Day

Illustration: Stout with Christmas holly.

A brief Christmas missive from our etiquette expert R.M. Banks.

You may be fortunate enough to find that the licensee of your favourite watering station is the splendid sort who postpones the enjoyment of a platter laden with the flesh of the fowl and the well-stewed brassica to fling open the hatches for an hour or so on Christmas Day.

If so, and you are not posted eagerly outside at 12 o’clock with a dry mouth and a fistful of the Bank of England’s finest lettuce, then you are, frankly, a foul blister who ought not to be allowed into the pub at any other time of year.

You see, the open door of a public house on the 25 of December is to the keen student of the Champagne of the grain as the ‘Battle Action Millennium Falcon’ (RRP £120) is to an 8-year-old child, and, like a fine equine specimen with a bow on top, its oral cavity ought not be given the glassy eye.

So, you have done the right thing and turned up for the midday service — perhaps in the company of one parent while the other dons the novelty apron to baste the goose. So far, so good.

Now, on approaching the bar, and after exchanging the necessary pleasantries with your host, if there was ever a time to sally forth with ‘One for yourself?’, this is it. (If you are one of those unfortunate wretches afflicted with chronic rigor mortis of the wallet, perhaps take a tumbler-full of your favourite loosener before leaving the house.)

This duty dispensed, it is a simply your mission to achieve a moderate level of jollity in the hour or so before the publican begins to send subtle signals that their own feed will wait no longer by, for example, dousing the fire with a bucket of cold water,  switching off the lights and standing with folded arms before the grandfather clock.

At this, you may return to the homestead, pour yourself into a dining chair, hold the silverware aloft, and know that you have demonstrated the true pub fancier’s spirit.

8 thoughts on “Modern Pubmanship 5: Christmas Day”

  1. It used to be a tradition that the landlord would buy the first drink for the regulars on Christmas day – I think this died out locally in the early 90s, but I wonder if it still holds anywhere? There were also quite generous free bar snacks – roast potatoes were a favourite. Restricted opening hours and the decline in public transport provision meant that the trade was almost all regulars anyway.

    An exception locally was the North Star in E11 which had a new landlady in the early 90s who had her extended family along for Christmas lunch, crowding out the pub and sending a distinct message to regulars that they weren’t wanted. She was moved on once the Wetherspoons opened around the corner and attracted a lot of custom from the NS. However, under current management the North Star has recovered and has an excellent and stable beer range plus an enterprising food selection (Wed – Sun). They don’t attract enough tickers to be in the GBG but are well worth a visit if in the area.

    Ian

  2. I picked up an elderly Geordie couple staying at one of my rental gaffs over Christmas from the airport yesterday.
    Far from being disappointed at hearing that all pubs in Ireland are shut on Christmas Day they reckon it’s an increasing trend in their part of the world as well.
    Which is a shame because the 12-2 Christmas Day session probably my favourite one of the entire year.
    So I took them off to Lidl to get some provisions in for their ten-day stay.Between them they bought three bottles of rum and three of whiskey.
    Now this a couple in their Eighties so I asked if they’ll be venturing out at all.
    ” Oh aye,” they said ” this stuff is just for a few liveners before we head off to the pub and a nightcap when we get back. ”
    I was seriously impressed at their festive spirit.

  3. We opened our pub in Durham in early December, and decided to open on Christmas Day between 12 and 2.30pm. Not the busiest session we’ve had, but extremely enjoyable for those (mainly neighbours and friends) who attended. Especially due to the presence of Robinson’s Old Tom, our Christmas tradition from home!

  4. Dear B&B – condiments of the seasoning to you! Can I ask – did you have a few festive shandies before penning this fine flowery pros? 🙂
    & ChrisM – was that a pin (or a firk?!) of Old Tom sat on the bar, a la Robbie’s finest? I’ve still not had the pleasure of that fine Stopfordian winter tradition.

    1. A firkin, on the stillage served via gravity – although I do have a soft spot for the warm and oxidised version from home it’s much better this way!!

      1. I’d like to taste the old way. I was in Robbie’s Blossoms (Buxton Rd?) a few years back & the pin of OT on the bar was still “working”, so I didn’t get to try it…but I think I’d prefer your new-fangled way????

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