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Alone Again Or

A few weeks ago Tandleman left a comment which said, inter alia, “…remember beer is a social drink to be enjoyed with friends. It should accompany entertainment, not be, in most cases at least, the actual entertainment itself.”

This is, of course, correct. However, drinking alone is when the beer gets to be the main attraction: the meat rather than the stock.  When you go to the cinema, you sit in the dark and turn your mobile phone off in order to give the film your full attention. Whilst some films can be enjoyed at home whilst flipping through a magazine or browsing the internet, a truly great film deserves to be watched with no significant distractions, only complimentary sensations: popcorn, a fizzy drink, a loving hand to squeeze through the shocks.

However, drinking alone in a relatively quiet pub serves a greater purpose than simply appreciating a beer in high definition; it can be good for your mental health.  It’s not that I hate conversation.  Other people can be wonderful, if you’re in the mood for them.  However, there are moments when a man needs to spend some time with himself to cleanse the mind of the wearying, frustrating, anxious trivia of real life. To defragment.

My perfect combination is sitting anonymously at a corner table in a half-full pub with a low hubbub of conversation going on all around, with a great beer and a good newspaper crossword (Telegraph cryptic or Observer Everyman, for my handicap).  One can sip the beer, stare into nothingness and think about the aroma and taste, solving its mysteries, alternating with working out cryptic clues and anagrams in your quiet battle with the setter.

If I were Icelandic, I might drive to the middle of nowhere and stare across a glacier, finding perspective in the emotionless stoicism of geology as the Earth slowly rips itself apart underfoot.  If I were a fisherman, I might pack my rod and stand in a river with only birdsong and trickling water to listen to, lost in the motions of casting and the passing current.

But here, in the rude, grubby, sweaty, selfish, frustrated city, at least I know that there is always a pub, a crossword and a pint.

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Categories: Beer Tags: , ,
  1. July 6, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Interesting perspective… drinking alone in a pub is not for me, but I can relate to your point!

    • July 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks. If find a nice pub where you get to know the staff, you’re not really drinking alone, you know. Although somewhere along that line of reasoning, alcoholism lies.

  2. July 6, 2012 at 7:45 am

    You have a valid point there Nick and one that sort I of missed in my own post, the period of nothingness. I rarely find that moment in a pub, so my original words stand, I find it really difficult to read let alone write with the distractions of a bustling bar, my ears or eyes drawn to this conversation or that physical action. I do though love to drink alone in silence and even on rare occasions in the dark, the Mrs asleep, finishing that last nightcap, just thinking

    • July 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      The crossword is good for brief bursts of attention and pondering. Reading in pubs generally is probably a bit overrated, unless it’s short works or a newspaper/magazine.

  3. July 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I like the idea of sitting quitely to defragment 🙂

    • July 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      My hard drive is a mess these days. Not to mention the amount of time it takes me to boot up and log on in the mornings.

  4. July 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I eluded to this elsewhere, but I see it as a manly stoicism. You might have expressed a bit more nobly and less sexist, but as an urban, professional male, I yearn for nature, solitude, and simplicity. That, and that glorious-looking Scotch egg on your plate. I would actually probably settle for that right now.

  5. landells
    July 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I agree that novels aren’t really for the pub because after an hour of reading you’ve only got through 3 pages and can’t remember any of it.

    And, of course, you’re never alone if your in a pub that has a good barman: one who doesn’t start conversations but is more than happy to continue them.

  6. Lucy
    July 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I love quietly defragging with my Kindle and a pint & only call ‘im indoors to meet me when I’m ready to talk again. Yeah, women like alone time as well!

  7. July 9, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for posting, Nick. That scotch egg looks phenomenal.

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