Thursday, 25 August 2011

It Doesn't Mean There is Anything Wrong with You


There is a saying in Bavaria.  "Nur ein schwein, drinkt allein"- "Only a pig drinks on its own". That I dare say is more to do with the local sense of "gemutlichkeit" or sociability, than a statement about the inadvisability of doing so. Drinking alone can be both liberating and uplifting if you allow it to be. It most certainly should never considered taboo or abnormal, unless it is of the destructive kind. But that of course applies to all drinking.

The quiet contemplative pint is so often an enjoyable experience, sitting in a carefully chosen corner, sorting out the myriad troublesome trifles of life in your mind. Or where more neutrally, you just drift, mind vacant and at ease,  while your pint waits patiently for the next absent minded sip. There are many variations to this basic theme.  The newspaper reader, enjoying a simple moment of solitude while catching up with the news or footie.  The crossword puzzler, brow furrowed, pen poised, looking heavenwards for inspiration. The betting man, mulling over his next flutter, at peace with the world and with hope coursing through his veins. The old gent, in his usual chair, nursing his beer while watching the varied goings on with practised interest and deriving great pleasure from the quiet familiarity of it all. The quick pint grabbed at the bar as a break from a trying day, the eagerly awaited pint after work, when cares can be thrown off, just for that brief time and when the mind can be quietly re-ordered and perspective, put back in its place. The uplifting moments of a nod here or a quiet word there, reminding you that your presence has been noted. All fall within the remit of drinking alone,  but none seem sad to me.

Sociability has its place of course and going to the pub with friends is indeed a wonderful thing, but being in your own company with a pint of good beer in your hand can be an excellent way of recharging your batteries and recalibrating the day. Indeed in the right circumstances, being content with yourself and just being there is a quietly uplifting experience. There's a great big world inside you and you know, it can be explored rather satisfyingly, beer in hand, in a conducive pub.

If you think  about it anyway, you aren't really that alone. The best pubs provide a connection. They draw people together in a shared existence, however fleeting and on your own or not, you are a part of it.

Do you enjoy a drink on your own in a pub sometimes? Are these old Bavarians maybe missing a trick after all? 

Oh and do exercise a bit of common sense.  Do this when you feel like a quiet beer on your own, but are otherwise chipper and avoid it when you are suicidal, or if your self loathing is already brimming over. 

18 comments:

Phil said...

My wife and I walked past my local last night, and I realised we'd never actually been inside together; I've been having a quiet half hour there on Saturday evenings for longer than I care to remember, but never in company (except on the few occasions I bump into friends there). I know most of the regulars by sight and several of them by name, but I've never become part of the social scene - most of the Saturday regulars are there for a proper session, rather than half an hour before getting a takeaway in, and besides I like settling down with my paper. (I might like being a more sociable drinker even more, but I'll probably never find out.)

Beerprole said...

Much as I like going to the pub with friends and as a couple, I'm very happy to go on my own and often do. I'm usually the one sat in the corner with the crossword and the furrowed brow.

Nick

Erlangernick said...

IMO and IME Yanks have more of a hangup about this. It's like they're afraid of "catching" alcoholism or something.

SteveF said...

I'm a fairly compulsive reader and usually have a book on me, so I quite often take the opportunity for a quiet pint and a read. For some reason I find myself drinking darker beers when I'm on my own.

Bailey said...

You're turning all poetical.

I sort of agree, although I do find I drink more quickly on my own, without the chit-chat, which can be dangerous.

One of my golden pub memories, though, is having a day off and going to the Plough in Walthamstow with a paper at lunchtime for two pints of ESB. It was just me, two old boys, and their dogs. Unbelievably peaceful.

Big Ste said...

Do it all the time, the misses dont drink

Saga Of Nails said...

Some people who visit pubs on their own are clearly quite lonely people because they end up forcing others into conversation/monologues. But these are the minority. Most people who go to pubs alone are perfectly comfortable with their own company. I quite like the space and perspective that visiting a pub alone gives you.

Velky Al said...

Drinking alone is one of the things I miss about the British pub, sat with just the newspaper, a good book, maybe some writing to do, with a decent pint on hand - sheer bliss.

Cooking Lager said...

Is it unkind to refer to the solitary drinker as "Billy no mates over there" then?

Ghost Drinker said...

Love it! It's my favourite way to get some reading done. It also helps my weekend lies on Tuesday & Weds so my local is quiet.

Eddie86 said...

It's one of the things I dislike most about having a 'quiet drink' in the pub you work in - it doesn't happen. Tonight a perfect example, catching up on blogs and getting menus ready on my laptop ended up with me sitting in the lower bar in the dark to stop being interrupted.

In fact I write this from that very spot as I calm down enough to go back into the main bar.

My favourite solo drinking activity is with a book - whereby I completely loose myself in the story.

Somedays you need a little space whilst keeping that social comfort - drinking at home alone (I find) doesn't provide this

Graeme said...

Pint to kill 20 minutes in the pub my bus stop is outside - no problems. I'll sit down and read at the same time - it's a nice relaxing thing to do, though I don't often get chance to do it.

Mark said...

There's something wonderfully relaxing about sitting alone and sipping a pint while reading a book. There's nothing like a pub to just unwind - listening to the conversations all around, looking at the fixtures and fittings, or just staring out the window. A solitary pint can be a wonderful thing but I think it depends on the pub more than the drinker - it can't be a busy bar, it needs to be a slow-paced, quiet kind of pub.

Pivní Filosof said...

I love drinking alone not more or less than drinking with friends, just in a different way. It's nice to sit in a pub, in the early hours of the afternoon, sipping a beer with no more company than your thoughts or some good reading material.

Another great thing about drinking alone, if you are doing it at the right place, is that you might start a conversation with another lonely drinker, or with someone from the staff, which can be a great experience, too.

HopZine Rob said...

I'm more than happy to enjoy a pint (or two halves in my case) alone in a quite pub.
I catch up on reading beer blogs, read a book or a paper and just sit and relax.
I'm not above a chat with a fellow drinker and have met some lovely people in a pub on a quiet afternoon.

Erlangernick said...

As a poor hapless foreigner, it's been interesting for me to learn about the difference in expected privacy based on where one sits in the pub. The further from the bar, the more private.

I've read about this, and then even tested it a bit live in action.

Leigh said...

Absolutely. There's a time and a place, and I would say I spend about 50% of my pub-time on my own; with the sports pages. Vital for relaxing. There are times when you just need a time out with a contemplative pint.

Simon Johnson said...

I'm sitting in a corner of a favourite pub, in a high-backed leather chair, with a perfectly kept pint, crossword to hand, ready to start the weekend. Thirty minutes of me-time. Perfect.