King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Thursday, December 8

On drinking in Ireland

The Irish are well known for their propensity to drink. But, with a good year and a half's living in the land of Guinness and Baileys (sometimes in the same glass), I feel I can express the truth about drinking here.
  1. There are two measures of drinking here. There are those who don't drink (slightly strange and maybe religious) and those that do (common)
  2. Those that don't drink cast doubt on how much of an alcoholic you are. Those that do drink make you think you don't drink enough.
  3. A quick pint is impossible. By the same reckoning that you can't pop to the pub for a quick one at lunchtime. This leads to the inevitable 'all-dayer' which only the most seasoned drinker can survive unscathed, and a boss who's pissed off with the fact you skived from work for the afternoon.
  4. You can't have a few drinks then go home. If you enter a pub at 9, you must leave as the bar staff either leave and lock up, or they fall asleep waiting for you to leave. Lock ins are obligatory.
  5. Pubs have windows. These windows are either frosted glass (meaning you can't be spotted from the street by the boss - see 3.), or have small displays of breweriana containing Wade Irish Cream barrels and old tins of long passed Powers whisky bottles (also meaning you can't be spotted by the boss - see 3.) Pubs do not concur with the image portrayed in every other country in the world. They do not have trendy young things riverdancing in the corner, or theme nights based around the 'homeland'. They are not called something involving a region, town or other locality, but normally after the owner (past or present), and normally just the surname. Paddy's or Murphy's can be counted as fake.  In fact, if it interferes with the drinking, chances are it's not going to be included.
  6. Ireland was one of the first countries to have a smoking ban in it's pubs. This means that the old beer garden now has a new lease of life. Some pubs have taken advantage of this new found outdoor freedom, and have taken to small summer rituals like barbecues. Not that any local would be seen eating, because as we all know "eating is cheating." All night long, even in the dead of winter with snow and permafrost, more than half the pub can be found having a party outside. If you're too cold to go out for a ciggy, just get another drink down you, then go out. And most spectacularly, even in a lock in, where you are a guest of the pub proprietor, are people found to be popping out the back for a smoke, before returning to their illegal tipple at the bar.
  7. As Tony Hawks mentions in his excellent book with an outlook on Irish life, every pub has a resident drunk. This (normally male) drinker can be found, struggling to prop themselves up at the end of the bar, with a long dead pint and an unerring ability to know a little about everything. In the event of you bumping into the resident drunk outside of the pub (and not just in the smoker's shed), he will not recognise you, acknowledge you or even know where he is. All he will do is agree with you if you say you'll see him in the pub later.
  8. The following day will see you with an unrecognised hangover. You will feel furry. You might have a slight headache. The night before will be hazy. You check your phone for messages sent, and come across the message sent to the person you really shouldn't have texted. Be it ex-lover, boss or mortal enemy (or, if you're really unlucky, all 3 are the same person...), you recoil in horror as you realise that fail safe of "don't let me text anyone after 11" has been not only breached, but your friends might as well have taken down your notice of intent via dictation, and sent it themselves. And how do your friends and fellow drinkers solve this? With the suggestion of the 'cure' which is not so much of a hair of the dog, but most of the pelt, skin and even some vital organs.
See you down the pub then, and no, not for a quick one.