Pubs, apparently, “keep male friendships strong.” It is of course unsurprising that a study needed to be conducted to this new social science based research. Women apparently, just pick up a phone or turn to Facebook and talk to one another. These aren’t my words of course, but those of Robin Dunbar, evolutionary biologist at Oxford University.
The pub was of course the scene of many great moments in TV and film history. From Pete and Dud to The Likely Lads, from Hot Fuzz to The World’s End, the world was put to right, pork scratchings consumed and flat, foamy, hoppy beer was drunk. There was no instagram, although everyone looked like they had some sort of yellow based filter applied to their face before hand and there was always a guarantee that your feet would get stuck to stuff that not even the best Crime Scene Investigators could identify. Men would bond, women would actually make conversation, and everyone could get along until someone tried to sell you pirate videotapes or music. It was a time before we became antisocial thanks to our mobile phones, and it was a time before, the Gastropub.
You see, gastropubs are needed, we (and I’m speaking for the whole of the male species here, naturally) are happy to be served great food. I mean we enjoy a rabbit lasagna as much as the next person, we don’t mind our entrees coming in on slate boards (1) and crisps in a bowl makes more sense than a bag especially when you’re sharing even if your hands are covered in piss after a toilet break after someone wanted to break into conversation, mid stream…
crisps in a bowl makes more sense than a bag especially when you’re sharing even if your hands are covered in piss after a toilet break after someone wanted to break into conversation, mid stream…
But the gastropub is also killing the ability for men to converse. We’ve become food critics, want to sample the artisan beer to then go and critique it and we’re not happy unless our every need is served, much like the experience at a restaurant. Therefore the gastropub is not a pub but it’s a place to eat and a place where you can go after a walk and have a pint, but then you’re too knackered to talk so you sit and wonder how long left until you get to go home.
It’s not like there isn’t anything to talk about. We have more visual and audio stimulation than ever before. I could easily go wax lyrical about the amount of time I spend searching for stuff on Netflix to only give up 40 minutes later because something has come on for free on terrestrial television.
So gastropubs decided to start doing things called lounges. They’re meant to be the best of your home in some random location where you can sit, read a paper, drink an artisan beer, a bloody mary if you live in Wandsworth (2) and chat to your mates.
If gastropubs are taking over the boozer, the last place where men could bond over talking rubbish about sport or even ludicrously say that they could get through SAS selection after seeing a 5 part series on Channel 4, then research is suggesting men that do active things together will keep hold of their friends for longer.
Great, because everyman enjoys shooting their best mate in the nuts at paintball, being unable to hit a ball straight at golf and become a Rapha (3) wearing w*nker for a Sunday bike ride; to end up in either a coffee shop knocking back flat whites or low and behold, a village pub where you stand out worse than the cavalry of fox hunters who rather surprisingly fit the decor to a tee.
Great, because everyman enjoys shooting their best mate in the nuts at paintball
So what is the answer? Is it a return to the pernicious, sniffling diatribe that the pubs in the 70s did so well, where you were only welcome based on the flat cap you wore and what accent you had. Or is it something in between? A new safehaven where men can bond without the threat of a dart to the eye… the Microbrewery. There I said it.
It’s a gastropub without the ponce, a pub that is so small if it were a human it wouldn’t have survived winter. It serves good snacks, a place where if you get a seat you can commandeer it for hours and where a pork scratching and a plate of welsh rarebit can co-exist without derision. Men could talk here and then listen in on the conversations of other men who had to choose between a round of paint to the face or a micro pub. They would become friends, because they drink together. Or something like that… And guess what, the opposite sex are cool here too. Because we live in 2017 and don’t have to be d*cks about talking, or not talking…
So yes, the gastropub, the Thatcherite invention, the saviour of British food and cherished staple of the middle class may be great but, it’s slowly killing the art of non-conversation between men. We can’t tell each other sh*t, sexist jokes and we couldn’t pretend to be part of the SAS. So long live the micropub, our tiny, minuscule saviour in this crazy world, until that gets taken over by hipsters, or worse, foodie-hipsters.
1) Slate boards are the most middle class way of saying, “we didn’t want to eat off plates, thanks. A piece of slate which used to be off someone’s roof was perfectly fine.”
2) Wandsworth is a place in South London. It sits between Clapham and Putney, has a jail, a Virgin gym and a shopping precinct. It also has a common, but it’s not as common as Clapham Common. It’s where you go to live if you want the best of South London, overpay for rent and still pretend your poorer than anyone in Clapham and Putney.
3) Rapha cycling gear is made from Merino wool. Anyone seen wearing Rapha gear on a bike ride is usually hated. They are generally called hipster-wank*rs and are derided by people that either don’t want to pay £110 for a top or can’t afford to pay £110 for a top.