Sunday, 21 February 2010

The fun I have in People Playgrounds

I went to a local real ale pub this Friday and had a fantastic time. I drank a fine real ale and my outlook became a tad chemically altered.

It's taken me years to work out why I like drinking alcohol. It's definitely a social thing for me. Up until recently I would very rarely drink at home (it's still not very common). What I love is the way it makes people more likely to 'connect' with others. In a pub like the one I went to on Friday, everyone becomes friendly and most people are happy to talk with anyone. So to me, the pub becomes one big 'people playground' that I can usually quite freely explore. I suspect there are some places in the world where this would be possible without alcohol.

Originally, I met with friends. They like to arrive and leave early. Thing is, they always leave just as I am about to get going (I usually arrive some time after them and my alcoholic stamina is pretty good). So I bump into people - people I know, those I vaguely know and sometimes strangers. It probably means I encounter people that I wouldn't normally, as we do have so many subconscious filtering processes in sober life that seem to prevent connections quite quickly.

At one point I met a young chap who had lived a long time in the Hague. He spoke about general social attitudes in Britain compared to the Dutch and how much more advanced he felt the Dutch generally were. He also said that when he's in the Netherlands he comes across to others as a macho feller but when he's in Britain, he comes across as the opposite! How interesting! But I didn't get to explore further because he had to leave with his friends.

A bit later, I met a man (friend of a friend) that started nearly every sentence with, 'the problem with women is...'. His friend wasn't quite so misogynistic so I chatted mostly with him. He was quite interesting but his friend regularly punctuated my sentences with, a new 'problem with women sentence.' I challenged a few of his early interruptions, for example, 'the problem with women is they only like shopping and that's all they do.' I replied, 'I hate shopping' (I sincerely do) but he told me I was lying! I showed him my bag as an example of how acquisition did not interest me. (I have had it for about ten years and repaired it several times (re-lined and patched, again and again) and he just said, 'you've just tried to hippierise it.' He was determined to dislike me as the only representation of femalehood within his proximity. He also told me that he hated being single and would love to have a girlfriend. A man that hates women but that wants one. Poor feller.

I became bored of that conversation (it did grate somewhat!) and decided I would go home after a necessary trip to the loo (real ale pints are a lot of volume to process). As I left the ladies, I bumped into some friends of a friend that I vaguely knew: a lovely, warm and intelligent artist and her wonderfully kind chap. I am still processing the conversation we had.....

I know I am an idealist and I have a picture of how I would love to see the world: connection, compassion, self-awareness, understanding and tolerance, gentleness,'s called Pretty Hippyland. I also know that it's very unlikely that we will ever all arrive in Pretty Hippyland. I do have a little realism going on too! We spoke about the scope of the human condition and how fundamentally, everyone is just floundering around clueless and some of us are trying to find a meaning that probably doesn't really exist. And this friend said she found comfort in the fact this was the reality. And I liked that too. I do sometimes look too hard for meaning and I do want the world to be a better place but I am regularly disappointed! I need to temper my idealism and become embroiled in 'that's just how it is!'

Then I left the pub to find my bike was still locked to the end of one of the wooden picnic benches outside the pub - only the bench had been upturned onto its side for nightime storage and my bike was consequently in the air - a little high for all 5 ft 2 of me to wrestle with alone. I popped back into the pub and asked two chaps to help me with this predicament. They did. I gave then some top trump cards for their effort and cycled off to bedsville. I love diverse adventures in People Playgrounds.


  1. The first time I met you, you were, ahem!, a little intoxicated and had decided that you found me lovable. I still smile when I think of that, what a way to introduce yourself Mrs Molly.

  2. When WAS that? Surprise surprise I don't remember!

    I need everyone to know that I spend most of my life sober and go for long periods (weeks sometimes months) never touching a drop!!!!

  3. I first met you in 1988, you were a little chemically altered then as well. To be fair so was I as was everyone else.

  4. Given the length of time you spent in the Fat Cat I'm surprised you can remember any of the people you met, let alone what they said. Do you write shorthand under the table or do you prefer a hidden microphone? Tell us the truth. (I didn't believe the 'sober for weeks, sometimes months' line.)

  5. lol ;) (and other such teenspeak)

  6. Spent a bit of time in a big people's playground myself this weekend!

    I'm like you: I love to drink socially, love the relaxing of filters, but do not drink alone or even on a regular basis.

    Sounds like you would fit in in Minnesota or Wisconsin. :-)


  7. Oh dear MY REPUTATION as a responsible citizen!!!!

    Mr T - those were the days! Guessing it was the Jacquard?

    I have to detox Jonathan or I would be dead! It had only been two weeks off this time, but that counts as 'weeks.' Are you spying on me?!!! How do you know I was there a long time?

    Hey Pearl - give us a couple of weeks of clean living and shall we meet, say, in Iceland and see how well the social filters deplete through alcohol intake there?

  8. I can't actually remember, I remember you working in a pub too, would you Adam and Eve it...

  9. Hmm, I met you in a pub too (that very same one in fact). It seems to be a recurring theme! Still I am inclined to believe your tales of sobriety, if only because I too will generally only drink socially. Yet my dearest friends would almost certainly tell tales that makes me sound like a dreadful alcoholic!

  10. Yes Andyc...snap

    I just don't do anything by halves (see enthusiasm badge), socialising and sobriety (see tomorrow's post on attribution theory)!


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