"the inhibited British male is frightened of intimacy"

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 19:07:59 -0800

[this is from that anthropologists' report on British pub ettiquette=20
I FoRKed last Friday... quite a choice quote. Too bad we don't have=20
CobraBoy back to pile on :-) --RK]

=46 Rule number one: To the natives, round-buying is sacred. Not=92=20
buying your round=81 is more than just a breach of pub etiquette: it is=20

Q. That sounds a bit extreme: why is round-buying so important to=20
native pubgoers?

A. Because it prevents bloodshed. Reciprocal gift-giving is the most ef-
fective means of preventing aggression between nations, tribes or in-
dividuals. In the British pub, it is essential. This is because the
inhibited British male is frightened of intimacy, finds it difficult to ex-
press friendly interest in other males, and can be somewhat aggressive
in his manner. Male pub-talk is often argumentative =91 we saw in the
last chapter that the argument is one of the standard forms of choreo-
graphed pub-talk =91 and round-buying is a highly effective antidote
these verbal fisticuffs. Buying your opponent a drink is a sort of sym-
bolic handshake, which proves that you are still mates. As one astute
(female) publican observed ibIf the men didn't buy each other rounds, they'd
be at each others throats. They can be shouting and swearing, but as=20
long as they
are still buying each other drinks, I know I won't have a fight on my handsl=
This is a useful tip for novice pubgoers: if the discussion gets a bit
heated, and you need to remind the natives of your friendly, peaceful
intentions, buy a round.


This phase of the ritual is called =92drinking-up time=81. Legally, it=20
takes 20 min-
utes to finish the last drink. The natives=81 instinctive, Pavlovian=
reaction to
the second bell is to try to make it last much longer.
Pavlov, in this case, is the nanny-state. In other countries, adults decide
for themselves when it is time to drink up and go home to bed. In Britain,
we are deemed incapable of making this sort of difficult grown-up deci-
sion, so we have licensing laws to tell us when it is bedtime. The publican,
in loco parentis, has to enforce these laws, ensuring that we all finish our
drinks and leave the pub by twenty-past eleven. The result, not surpris-
ingly, is that we behave like rebellious children =91 whining, dawdling, com=
plaining, taking forever to finish our last drink, hiding in corners in the
hope that we won=81t be noticed and trying to wheedle the poor publican into
letting us stay up late, just this once. The ritual ends with the publican a=
bar staff moving wearily around the pub, chanting ihCome on now, let=81s hav=
your glasses, pleasel,, ilDrink up now =91 haven=81t you got homes to go=20
to?ls, until the
last recalcitrant stragglers eventually obey.


Eavesdrop on almost any girl=81s-night group, and you will probably over-
hear at least one of the traditional phrases used in the =92matching=81=
ritual. To
determine whether a girl=81s group is engaged in this ritual, listen for any=
the key phrases listed below.
Key phrases:
Me too -
Oh yes, I know how you feel -
Mine=81s just the same -
Oh God, do you get that as well -
Really? I do that too -
My Mum (sister, friend, boyfriend, aunt, husband, boss, cat etc.) is
just like that -
That reminds me of -
Oh, that=81s just like -
The same thing happened to me (my Mum, friend, sister, neighbour,
hamster etc.) -
I tried that once, and -
I can=81t do that either -
Oh, I know what you mean, I=81m just the same -
So do I -
Oh God, yes, I hate those as well -


=46inal Warning: If you go around showing
this book to native pubgoers and reading
out the rules to them, be prepared for one
of the three following reactions:

=93 Some native pubgoers will probably
scoff and huff and puff and insist that it=81s
all a load of twaddle (or worse, depending
on their vocabulary). They may claim that
there are no rules of etiquette, and that
their behaviour is totally natural and spon-
taneous. They are right, in the sense that
they obey the laws of pub etiquette with-
out being conscious of doing so =91 just as
we all automatically get dressed in the
morning, without reminding ourselves that
there is an unspoken rule of etiquette
which prohibits going to work in our pyja-

" Others will not deny the existence of
pub-etiquette rules, but will insist that we
have got them wrong. They may also be
right, in that there are undoubtedly many
local variations and exceptions which are
not covered in this guide. Alternatively,
those who react in this way may simply be
trying to start an argument with you, or
teasing you, or hoping to convince you
that, according to an ancient custom not
mentioned in this guide, it is your turn to
buy a round.

" Finally, you may find a few enlightened
individuals who nod and laugh as they flip
through the guide, perhaps adding their
own insights and examples. These ideal
critics might query a few points here and
there, but, in accordance with the First
Commandment of Pub Etiquette, they
will not take anything, including pub eti-
quette, too seriously!