Pub life: moving tables

A pub garden in an unusual summer. Hand sanitiser stations and tables two metres apart. Masks folded on tables. Cautious equilibrium. Then, enter chaos.

A party of fifty-somethings, twenty strong, zeroes in on a large table and sets about enlarging it further, dragging chairs from around the pub.

The sound of metal on stone, the clattering and shouting, summons the bar manager: “GUYS, I’M SORRY, BUT…”

Gently, smiling, as friendly as he can be, he makes them put the chairs back where they found them and the party reluctantly spreads out across half the garden, grumbling and tutting.

Over the next hour, they’ll swap seats and rearrange the party five or six times, before driving off in different cars and taxis.

At the other end of the garden, a party of twenty-somethings descend on two picnic tables. It takes a moment for them to decide they’re too far apart and the lads roll up their sleeves.

Knees bent, biceps popping, grunting and giggling, they lift one table and move it so it butts up against the other.

The whole party cheers.

The manager appears like a genie in a puff of subdued stress: “GUYS, I’M SORRY BUT…”

Like naughty schoolchildren, the boys move the table back and then the entire group of ten finds a way to sit in a single table, piled on laps and perched on bench-ends.

They order tequila, lick salt from their hands, hug, kiss, take bites from each other’s burgers and feed each other chips.

Image by Victor Figueroa via Unsplash.

6 replies on “Pub life: moving tables”


Of course, according to regulations the bar staff should also step in to prevent both the kinds of behaviour you describe, but good luck with that. We bumped into a friend on one of our recent pub outings; he didn’t have the temerity to sit down with us, but even so I was half expecting the conversation to be cut short (“GUYS, I’M SORRY…”).

Like somebody said, we need a replacement for “avoiding something like the plague” – collectively we’re plainly not that bothered about avoiding an actual plague.

I echo your sigh, but perhaps it’s understandable considering how much disruption has been caused in people’s lives by a disease that has so far been found in 0.237% of the world’s population and has caused or contributed to the deaths of less than 0.1% of the UK population. You mention plague, but it just doesn’t register on that scale with a lot of people, because not many have had experience of the disesase in people they know. Put that together with the way a prominent government adviser was allowed to ignore his own regulations, and I think the behaviour described is understandable. Though still reprehensible.

Our brains don’t do well with very large numbers or very small ones, let alone both put together! It’s true that the Covid death toll is at most 0.1% of the UK population; by the same token road traffic accidents kill 0.003% of the population per year, so it’s a wonder anyone ever looks right, left and right again (he said, showing his age).


the [Netherlands] has been riveted by the tale of a bar in Hillegom, a town in the tulip-growing heartlands, where the owners promised on Facebook early in the pandemic that nobody would be “reprimanded” under their roof for “sitting close together, shaking hands or hugging”.

“We know what we’re doing,” wrote the owners of De Kleine Beurs pub, Boy Hardeman and his wife Wanda. “For many people the bar is traditionally the one place where they don’t have to stick to all life’s rules.”

Last week, having reopened on July 1st with the rest of the country’s restaurants, bars and cafes, De Kleine Beurs was rapidly closed again by the health authorities after 39 cases of Covid-19 were traced directly to its door – 31 infected there and the other eight contaminated indirectly.

The owners of what at this moment is probably the Netherlands’ best-known bar say they are “mystified” by the outbreak.

I was in a pub last week with two friends, one not seen since before lockdown, the other whose partner has had Covid-19ish symptoms, though blood tests have all proved negative. We were being respectful of the rules by sitting in the garden as we’re from three different households. One of them was drinking a 14% pastry stout and smacking his lips. The other said, “Ooh, can I have a taste of that?”. The first automatically proffered his glass. “No!”, I cried. “What are you doing?”

Old habits die hard, it seems.

whilst the statistics % dont look much 48000 have died how many people were affected 150000 200000 +??. There is a very high %age of the British public who have a complete disregard for their neighbours and the country in which they live no matter were they congregate guaranteed there will be a huge mess to clean up after they have gone back to their respective hovels because i am sure that is what they must live in having seen the disgusting mess that was left behinde at various football celebrations recently just saying.

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