Pub Culture

Tom Utley (one of my all-time favorite columnists) waxes rhapsodical about the revival of pubs in Britishland:

This week’s cheering news is that after years of precipitous decline, the number of pubs and bars opening in the UK has outstripped closures by 320 in 2019. So says an analysis of labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Indeed, as I may have written before, my idea of heaven on Earth is an English village pub — ideally at least a couple of centuries old, with a thatched roof and a low ceiling supported by gnarled oak beams. On winter evenings, there should be a blazing log fire to greet us (sorry, Greta Thunberg) and a labrador stretched out on the hearth (‘just taking the dog for a walk, dear’).
On summer afternoons, there will be trestle tables out at the front, from which customers can watch the cricket on the village green or just listen to the drone of the bees in the roses above the door.

Of all the things I miss about being in the UK (and one of the very  few things I miss about living in South Africa) would be the weekly evening visit to the pub and / or the daily lunchtime visit thereto during the work week.  Lest anyone has forgotten, this was my “local” when I was variously staying with Mr. Free Market and The Englishman:

I desperately want to have a “local” Over Here, but we don’t have a pub culture:  ours is more a “get wasted after work” culture (not that this is altogether a Bad Thing, of course, but people don’t generally cluster around the pub (okay, bar) around these parts as a social venue).  The closest I’ve found is the Londoner in Addison, and it’s not close at all — a 20-minute drive away, assuming no traffic.

There is the Holy Grail a few steps from my apartment, which has excellent food but a somewhat patchy collection of ales — from week to week, they’re likely to be out of whatever I had the previous  week, which gets old very quickly — and as the website pics will show, it’s too damn big and very noisy.  (Aside:  why are  Americans so loud?  Is it because they have to shout to be heard above the earsplitting music/game on the TV?  Never mind:  that’s a rant passim.)

One thing, though, about Utley’s article:

It is run not by an ever-changing cast of managers on their way up the career ladder but by permanent fixtures in the community — landlords and landladies who have lived on the premises for years, know all the local gossip and are ready with their regulars’ preferred tipples, without having to be told (‘The usual, Tom?’).

Yeah, but that’s also a double-edged sword.  While an independent innkeeper can occasionally be persuaded to whip up a makeshift plate of sandwiches outside regular food-service hours, he could also be a cantankerous old fart, as per this story of Mr. Free Market, who arrived at his local one afternoon with a crowd of business friends and associates, and begged that the pub be opened to accommodate over fifty thirsty customers, to be met with the withering response:  “Fuck off;  I’m watching Corrie!” (Coronation Street).  Not yer model of customer service, innit?  And as the owner, he wasn’t going to get fired, either.

So there ya go.

All that said, I miss having a real local — but a place “where everybody knows your name” seems to have become a figment of TV fiction, hasn’t it?

I envy Tom Utley.

Threatened

From PJMedia comes this little snippet:

I’m not going to comment on the article itself, but on the poll about which it speaks.

You see, we all know about the attacks on our Second Amendment rights — Virginians most recently, Californians, New Yorkers and Illinoisans in perpetua — and of course we are, and should be, permanently vigilant about those, especially as its the fucking government — federal, state and local — who inflict gun control on us law-abiding citizens (aided and abetted, it should be said, by the Jackals Of The Press — JOTP — who never saw a gun they didn’t hate).

Likewise, the right to a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence, is often trampled upon by the fucking government — where, for example, law enforcement officers can lie to a suspect with impunity in order to extract a confession, but lying to a law enforcement officer carries a prison sentence (ask Martha Stewart).  You could also ask the late Richard Jewell about that — the Fibbies publicly named him a “person of interest”, whereupon the JOTP pounced on that and helped them in their pretrial conviction in the public eye.

It’s the other three freedoms that concern me almost as much, because those are under attack not only by government (e.g. “hate speech” — whatever that is) but also by non-governmental  institutions such as universities, corporations and social media (once again, aided and abetted by the JOTP).  We can all agree that murdering someone is bad;  but shouting “You filthy nigger!” as you murder him, according to the gummint, is somehow much, much  worse.

And you can join a completely fascist organization like Pantifa (despite their name) without penalty, but joining the KKK is OMG so  beyond the pale.  Yeah, I know:  joining a fascist organization is just freedom of association, but joining a racist organization… well, that deserves censure, saith the scolds and bureaucrats.

And FFS:  I’m not supporting the KKK, those morons;  I’m simply saying that freedom of association means you should be able to associate freely with anyone you want.  To my mind, Pantifa is just as bad as the Klan — but if we’re going to shut down an organization because of its lawless activities, how about rounding up and arresting every known member of MS-13?  Never mind, they’re just a Hispanic social club, right?  It is, as they say, to laugh.

Oh, and try to form a men-only club, and see how long it takes for a feminazi-inspired lawsuit to hit your doorstep.

Likewise, if we are free to practice our religion, feel free to wear a yarmulkah in downtown Dearborn in Michigan, just to see what happens.  And good luck wearing that crucifix around your neck as a customer service person working, say, for an airline.  Somehow, the very sight of said religious symbols are “provocative” to the adherents of other religions.  Well, I’m provoked beyond words by those niqabs  and burkas  that Muslim men force on their women, but I’m not going to kick the shit out of the man walking next to a woman so clad — as much as I’d like to.  And I wouldn’t want to ban the stupid clothing, either, unless we have a situation where a woman refuses to remove her veil for a driver’s licence photograph.  (“No face?  No licence” should be the rule, but noooo.)

Yeah, I know that all this is full of pitfalls and contradictions, but that’s all part of living in a free society, isn’t it?

What I’m saying is that we don’t, anymore.  Somehow, we’re having our freedoms circumscribed just because some people think that freedom is fine unless they get offended by the freedom of someone else.  Then it’s time for shitty laws and even worse, penalties.

My Style

As Longtime Readers are fully aware, I loathe Modernist architecture and interior design with something approaching destructive impulse (a polite way of saying that of I could get away with it, I’d pay Muslim assholes to fly empty airliners into all of them).  Lest we forget, here are a couple of examples of same:

So, you may ask, what do you propose in modernism’s stead?  Well, if we go according to the precept that “architecture doesn’t have to  suck”, we could do with more of these:

…and for the interior design, more of these:

The above two pictures, by the way, are of an AirBnB apartment in Edinburgh (one of my favorite cities in the whole world), where I will most certainly be staying the next time New Wife and I pop Over There.

Here’s another example of an interior taken not a million miles away from a certain country house in England’s South West, where I have stayed before:

…and where we will doubtless stay again when we venture into Hardy Country.

Yes, I’m hopelessly old-fashioned and so (to the surprise of precisely nobody) is New Wife.  Your opinion may vary from ours in that you prefer the top two pictures;  but if so, you suck and so does your ghastly Bauhaus  architecture.

Buh-Bye

City Journal puts men’s magazines under the microscope, and doesn’t like what it sees:

In a tough media environment, men’s magazines are suffering more than most. Some—notably, Playboy and Esquire—appear to have decided that appealing primarily to men is no longer the best way forward.

Yeah, good luck with that, assholes, and watch your readership (and business) disappear.  Good-bye and good riddance.

Come to think of it, this humble website  offers more to men than any of the glossy so-called “men’s” magazines.  On these electronic pages can be found pictorials of topics wanted by men:  guns, cars, women, food, booze and articles including straightforward political discussion, cultural content — such as the occasional review of movies, music and fine art — and even historical analysis, all on a daily (not monthly or quarterly) basis.  Oh, and no ads.

And it’s free, except for voluntary contributions (thankee).

Red-Headed Virgin

Reader Jeff W. sends me this article, which suggests that the BVM was, in fact, a ginger:

I had no idea that she was Scottish.  Was “Mhairi” her real name, I wonder?

Anyway, never mind all that.  The blog wherein such is to be found looks very interesting, so excuse me for a day or two while I examine it closely.

En Passant

In an otherwise-unmemorable piece on woke-scolds ending Comedy As We Know It, NRO mouthpiece Jay Nordlinger says this:

I received a note from my old friend Larry Shackley, a longtime NR reader and a great admirer of P. G. Wodehouse. In fact, Larry is reading through the complete Wodehouse — complete — right now.

…as though this were somehow unusual.  Maybe it is, for Murkins who — for shame — don’t know who Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was.

To call P.G. Wodehouse one of the most-read humorist writers of the 20th century is to understate the thing — he is quite possibly the greatest humorist writer, ever.  Here’s a personal indicator.

When I left South Africa in 1986, I brought with me three suitcases of clothes, my cameras and a few other things I couldn’t bear to part with.  I brought only two books with me (from a library of well over a thousand), and those were The World of Psmith (a compendium of three books) and The Jeeves Omnibus (another compendium).  Both were written by P.G. Wodehouse.  I reasoned — correctly as it turned out, in those pre-Amazon times —  that I wouldn’t be able to find them here.

And there was just no way I was going to live in a house without Wodehouse.

Now, a lot of people don’t “get” Wodehouse because most of his situations are concerned with utterly trivial concerns — trivial maybe to us, nowadays, and certainly only non-trivial to the English upper classes circa 1928.  (One story involves the “theft” of a wonderful cook by one titled twerp from another titled household.)  But that doesn’t stop the brilliant writing from making one burst out with uncontrollable laughter occasionally.

And it should be said that Wodehouse himself was very much a fervent socialist — his take on the peccadilloes of the English upper classes is almost invariably satirical — yet his satire is not the bitter waspishness of Private Eye  magazine, but gentle and almost indulgent.  Look at these idiots, he seems to say, see how foolish and inconsequential they are.  One of my favorite lines from the Bertie Wooster stories comes when Bertie is beset with looming trouble and catastrophe, and says to his long-suffering “gentleman’s gentleman” Jeeves as he is being dressed for dinner:

“At a time like this, Jeeves, I wonder whether the length of one’s trousers actually matters,” and receives the gentle rebuke:
“There is never  a time, sir, when the length of one’s trousers doesn’t matter.”

Wodehouse left England for a career as a Hollywood scriptwriter, only to become embroiled in the Cold War-McCarthyism of the Fifties.  How ironic, then, that he, the one-time socialist, should write of that time:

“Humorists have been scared out of the business by the touchiness now prevailing in every section of the community. Wherever you look, on every shoulder there is a chip, in every eye a cold glitter warning you, if you know what is good for you, not to start anything.”

What was practiced on the socialists of that era is being repeated with even more venom and coldness by the P.C. (and mostly socialist) tribe of today.

Anyway, enough of that.  I think I’ll marmalade a slice of toast, and go and read A Pelican At Blandings, featuring the wonderfully-named Galahad Threepwood of whom it was said (and I paraphrase) that he was so ardent a party animal that he hadn’t slept till age fifty.  And if anyone should think that I resemble Galahad’s elder brother Clarence, the Earl of Emsworth, who looks with utter bewilderment on the modern world and prefers to retreat to his library and read — well, you’d be absolutely correct.