Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rounds

The customers last night inadvertently reminded me of something (one of many) that I really miss about the UK, and that is, namely, The Round. I'm trying to recall if I've even seen a single session of rounds since I've opened just over three months ago. Sure, you get the one member of a party that volunteers to cover the entire tab after a meal and a few drinks, which is invariably paid with a credit card. But, The Round; it is a beautiful thing, full of nuance and subtlety, and it involves beer. I don't now why I find this interesting, but there it is - 5500 miles away a group of lads will come up to the bar with 20 pounds sterling and order four pints, which will be consumed roughly at the same pace. Then, by the Mysterious Round-Selection Algorithm, another of the party will do the same. And so forth. And so on. But, alas, over here in the Colonies I have to record randomly selected beverages and food items on a piece of paper, to be paid for either before or after The Meal by a credit card (again).

I often am left with the impression that perhaps we don't have a culture, this being a subject which I often think about but find myself unable to articulate in writing. Where are these rituals that define us? Oh, I know they are there, but they have an arbitrary, intertwined quality, as if still struggling to assemble into a cohesive pattern. In September when the firefighters were out and about in force, and thankfully supporting my pub, I struggled through the complications of figuring out just who was going to cover who's tab at the end of the night amongst 20 or so random and circulating government contractors. I have to admit to witnessing numerous acts of generosity, but not a single definable and namable expression of said.

I'm presently sitting at the High Street Cafe in Eugene, Oregon. They have food, WiFi, and beer, of which I could write stories about (along with my impressions and opinions of McMenamins). I lurk by myself, sitting in the nice corner seat by the bathrooms (yes, I know there is no bath in there). I'm not buying anybody a round. Why? Because I'm playing the frantic businessman on a resource-run to the local city, using the spare moments to write a potentially useless blog about a ritual that only works when all are in agreement and share an engaging tradition. In other similar situations, given a society of social gray matter, I might be inclined to buy a round. Too bad that the staff would not be impressed with a representative of a group of blokes ambling up to the bar every 34 minutes with a 20 dollar document of legal tender for yet another round. Let's just run a tab. (Author rummages for credit card).

6 comments:

Tandleman said...

The round, though I'm not certain about places like Australia, a particularly British institution which is even more complex than you describe.

There is a great description of it here, which your North American readers may find illuminating though my Oregon mates who have been here know this already..

http://www.sirc.org/publik/ptpchap5.html

I'll maybe do a bit on it in my blog someday.

www.tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.com

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

What I've been pondering is the notion that we really do have a round, or a round-like, ritual. It is just spread over days and weeks, rather than being confined to a single session. It usually manifests itself as two or three individuals coming up to the bar at settling-up time and all pulling out credit cards. Much polite wrangling typically ensues, usually involving statements to the effect that A bought last time, or C is driving and had to spring for gas, and that it was B's idea to stop by the pub anyway. So, instead of a round of drinks, we seem to have a round of entire evenings expenditure.

Tandleman said...

You haven't read the rules, you Bad Boy!

That's not a round.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Despite being a Bad Boy, which I wholeheartedly agree with, I have many times participated in the rounds ritual in the UK and Ireland. I also have a copy of Passport to the Pub at the bar. It's a good read.

What I'm proposing, or suggesting, is that our system here is flawed, if I may be so bold, and that the True Round (tm) is rarely practiced. Maybe, though, we have another ritual that is like a Macro-Round, spread out over weeks and months, for which proper nomenclature has yet to be devised.

Tandleman said...

Rounds can be spread a bit, but usually thats between mates who just take up where they left off lasst time.

I quite like totting up at the end but pay as you go is more convenient and is less open to doubt or, God forbid, manipulation.

johnfoyston said...

Whose shout is it, then, mates? Can't wait to come down and sample the beer and the pub...my old man used to take us to Oakridge in the early 60s when he was chief engineer for Pope & Talbot, so I know the town...