Bars have their attractions, although the typical corner bar here – nowadays commonly run by a Chinese family – have little to offer in the way of homeliness
I’ll be spending some time visiting friends and family in England this summer. It’s something we’ve done consistently over the years, allowing us to also escape the Mediterranean heat. We’ll be doing a bit of house-sitting in the North for friends going away on holiday and then squatting at another friend’s house in London, who basically had little say in the matter. What I want to write about considering the aforementioned visit “to the old country”, using the term in the American sense of somewhere that is no longer home but was a very long time ago, is the strange feeling of excitement I get when I realise I’m going to be walking into pubs again. I don’t know if other Britalans and Irelans (another term coined there) share it, but there’s nothing quite like that feeling. Sure, bars have their attractions, although the typical corner bar here – nowadays commonly run by a Chinese family – have little to offer in the way of homeliness. That’s what I love about pubs, they bestow a feeling of belonging on the visitor. Then there are also the unique type of good times that pubs offer, what’s known as the craic in Ireland. Visitors from around the world famously go to pubs in Ireland in search of this famed phenomenon, though interestingly not so much to participate in it as to observe it. Indeed, pub landlords have been known to complain about groups of tourists standing around waiting for the atmosphere to kick in, hugging their bottles of water as the locals swig down their customary numerous pints of beer.
Well, as you can imagine, being English I don’t go to pubs to witness the atmosphere but to be part of it. I always get the feeling when I enter a pub that I will either end up in a lengthy conversation with just about anyone on just about any topic or singing my heart out with a group of strangers. Because pubs are above all friendly places, homes from home, a place where Brits and Irish can leave their troubles behind and engage in the worthwhile pastime of drinking their worries away. I suppose you need to have grown up in Britain or Ireland to know that particular sensation. I’ve lost count of how many nationalities I’ve taken “down the pub” with the best of intentions, only for them to turn up their nose and point out the problems with the ageing décor/stale beer smell/lack of air conditioning/dirt or numerous other complaints that hadn’t even occurred to me as I was being whisked into my magical pub world. Maybe it’s due to escapism that pubs hold that mystique for me, a place that allows me to “forget about today until tomorrow” (I’m pretty sure Dylan wasn’t singing about pubs there, though). There are pubs in Catalonia of course, and despite Brit and Irish ex-pats complaining that they can seem like fake versions of the real thing, I still much prefer going down the pub for a pint and a singsong than going to a bar for a chat.
- Catalonia Today 08-07-2018 Pàgina 9