Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Class Conscious: Tips for the Ordinary Pub: Watch Football, Ignore the Music, Never Say "David Hare"

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Class Conscious: Tips for the Ordinary Pub: Watch Football, Ignore the Music, Never Say "David Hare"

Article excerpt

Dear Henry:--Thanks for the e-mail, and congratulations on buying the house in Camberwell. I agree that [pounds sterling]950,000 sounds like a reasonable price, and you should ignore Josh when he says that actually you're in Peckham. He's only jealous. He always says he lives in "Bow borders", but we all know it's really Plaistow.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

You say there's a pub around the corner, The Lager Top, and you think you ought to show your face, but you'd like some advice about how to conduct yourself in there. To begin with, you mustn't worry that you haven't been able to find The Lager Top in your guide to pubs with no piped music, or in The Good Pub Guide, or any Camra guide, or gastropub guide, or Time Out guide, or even in the phonebook. The Lager Top probably does have piped music, or a jukebox at least, and you're just going to have to accustom yourself to this fact, which is irrelevant in any case because the first rule of going into an ordinary pub is: ignore the music. The experienced goer to such pubs would no more exclaim: "God, bloody Robbie Williams again!" than he would utter, upon entering the bar: "Gosh, it's awfully smoky in here!", or say censoriously to the barmaid: "I see you have nothing on draught."

Sometimes, purely by accident, a record of the sort approved by you and me--something by Tori Amos, REM or the Red Hot Chili Peppers--will be played, but you certainly shouldn't say: "Have you heard the album this came off? It got five stars in Q." Put money in the jukebox if you must, but beware that, as you walk away having selected half a dozen classics, it will probably be a power ballad by the iron-lunged Michael Bolton that begins blaring from the machine, your money having triggered the track next in line in the electronic memory. You'll then spend the next half-hour worrying that everyone in the pub thinks you're a Michael Bolton fan. …

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