Inapub regular, our columnist and blogger landlord Richard Molloy, muses on the mysteries of becoming a part of the pub in-crowd...
The pub is a great place to unwind.
The beauty of the pub is often not what it is, but what it's not: it's not work where your boss pulls your strings, or home where the kids push your buttons.
You're not gripping a steering wheel silently pleading with lights to change colour or on the top deck of a bus trying to remember that you too were once young as the teenagers in front of you swear loudly about that bitch on Love Island.
The pub is different.
The pub is yours and you're different when you're there. Think about it. Where else would you tell a joke to a complete stranger? In the supermarket queue? To the person filling their car up next to you at the petrol station? No. You're different in the pub.
You're different in the pub because you're allowed to be you; you're allowed to be the foolish version of you that you don't allow yourself to be in the street. You're allowed to be foolish because you know for a fact that everybody else in that pub has made a complete arse of themselves in there before and been forgiven for it.
Obviously there are limits and unwritten rules to acceptable dickishness and many people get it wrong. You can't simply walk into a pub as a stranger and attempt to start a sing-song – I mean, we are British after all!
You also can't expect to be a newcomer and immediately strike up conversations with everyone. Oh no, this is very suspicious. We immediately assume that you're only here because you've been kicked out of the pub round the corner, presumably for annoying the regulars by immediately attempting to strike up conversations with everyone.
Real acceptance into the inner sanctum of the regular pub crowd takes time and patience. Here's a quick guide:
- Find a pub where most people sit around the bar.
- Pick a barstool on the edge of where you perceive the regulars sit.
- Take a newspaper – you don't want to seem like you need them to entertain you. Do not take a book. Repeat. Do not take a book. This scares people and will set you back hours in your mission.
- Drink. Read. Do not speak to anyone apart from ordering your drink; If someone strikes up a conversation with you then go with it, but try and gauge the social standing of the person speaking to you. The last thing you want is to be used as Boring George's latest distraction. This will also set you back hours.
- Repeat this until the regulars start to acknowledge you. A nod is a good start. It's important to come in at the same times every day/week so as to interact with the same people. This way will also mean you'll likely be served by the same member of staff. Building up a rapport with them is an essential part of the process.
- Try not to look like a copper.
If you follow these six simple rules then you should be considered a regular within about a dozen visits.
It's important at this point not to push it; don't try to alter the dynamic too much.
Ease yourself in and get to know names. Don't go flapping Facebook friend requests around like confetti or inviting everyone to your barbecue – you're at least a year away from that. Wait. Play the long game and you will be rewarded with sanctuary, peace, gloriously glib humour and a human shield from the ridiculous behaviour of those in the outside world.