3.3 Discussion Topics. Have you ever been to a typical British or Irish pub? There tends to be very little difference between British and Irish pubs. In fact, many of the pubs in England are owned by Irish landlords or breweries.
What was it like? Describe the interior. Although there are plenty of modern bars, ‘trendy’ pubs or wine-bars, what the British like the most is the traditional type of pub or tavern. The basic design of these places hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Traditionally, they were known as inns or taverns; there were rooms upstairs for visitors and food in the bar. In those days, the interior would have looked much the same as it does in many present day pubs.
A traditional pub will have a long wooden bar with the tall levers for ‘pulling pints’ of beer, or ale. There is usually a fireplace in older or more rural places. The walls are often covered in a type of wallpaper with a red velvet cloth design. There are almost always wall-to-wall carpets on the floor. In many pubs the walls and ceiling are decorated with collections of pictures, old bottles, beer jugs, antiques, stuffed animals, trophies, lamps, kettles, swords, anything in fact. It is not uncommon to see a bookcase, full of books. Modern pubs are often fitted in the same way. They are intentionally made to look like old fashioned, traditional public houses. In old pubs you would have seen a jukebox for playing music and a cigarette machine in case you need to buy a packet of ‘fags’. You can find a pool table, a fruit-machine (slot-machine) if you want to gamble a little, and maybe a pinball machine.
Do you remember any of the names of the pubs that you visited? There is no limit to the eccentricity of British pub names. The most common names are ‘The Red Lion’, ‘The King’s Head’, ‘The Queen’s Head’, and ‘The Rose and Crown’, but don’t be surprised to see ‘The Dog and Whistle’, ‘The Elephant and Castle’, and many other strange names.
What is the difference between a pub and a bar? How do bars in your country differ from those in Britain? Do people go to pubs only to drink? Is it possible to eat meals there? What time do bars in your country open and close? What type of people go to the pub? Are pubs in your countries for the whole family or just for adults? Are country pubs different from city pubs?
Many foreigners are surprised to learn that there are big differences between ‘European’ style bars and British pubs.
Firstly, British pubs cater far less for the whole family than in other countries. You are usually not allowed to take children under fourteen years of age into the pub. In the evening many pubs don’t let under-eighteens in at all. This is because the main activity of the adult clientele in British pubs is drinking. Food is available, but probably only to stop the drinkers going home!
In Mediterranean countries people go to the bar with the whole family to eat and drink, or maybe only to get a coffee. If you want a cup of tea or coffee in Britain, go to the café. In recent times, pubs have changed a lot. Twenty years ago it was virtually impossible to find a pub that sold coffee! Even now it is close to impossible to find a pub that is open for breakfast. (Most British pubs open at around midday and close before midnight.)
In Italian bars breakfast time is the busiest time of day. Nowadays pub meals (pub grub) have become much more popular, most pubs having various hot meals as well as traditional bar snacks such as peanuts and crisps. Country pubs have always been more family orientated, being the centre of a village’s social activity, and often serving as a hotel where travellers would stay. Why don’t you let me show you? Look! There’s a pub. Come on, it’s time for some ‘hands on’ research.