Friday, 6 July 2012

It Doesn't Mean There is Anything Wrong With You - Repost

I was insired by Kristy MacCreadie - as I so often am - to contribute this piece to the session, this time hosted here by Nate Dawg. It isn't new, but it is bang on the money as far as topic goes. The original post is here.

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? I think so.

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.


Neville Grundy said...

Then all this poetic wonderment is shattered if someone calls you "Billy no mates" just because you happen to be drinking alone. They might be joking, sort of, but it tends to undermine your mood.

Tom Mann said...

The missus plays darts on a Monday and Wednesday, and when the drive home takes me near the waggon & horses in Halesowen, sadlers brewpub in Lye and the Olde swan in netherton, I often stop for a quick pint. Being in a pub on your own still seems more socialable then drinking at home alone, although I've got nothing against that, either.

Tyson said...

Yeah, sounds like a loser's self-justification to me.

Ben Viveur said...

Everybody knows the kinds of pub where people are content to go on their own tend to be the best pubs anyway. Quiet, relaxing, non-judgmental and better beer.

Give me a place where people on their own is a normal sight over the kinds of noisy 'style' venues where youngsters head in gangs of 8-10 any day of the week.

Erlangernick said...

FWIW, and it may not be much, I would tell my English pupils to say "alone" instead of "on its own". The former is obviously a direct translation and the latter sounds like the pig is able to drink without any help.

And we puritan Yanks have more of a hangup about drinking alone than most, I think: don't want to risk coming down with alcoholism!

Tandleman said...

In English the two are pretty synomymous, though alone and on your own have their own subtleties. German is less subtle and too literal. Less easy to pick the meaning up from context.

And drinking on your own never seems to faze you.

Unknown said...

Cheers for posting mate.

Judging by that German phrase, I must be a pig.

Anonymous said...

The pedant in me has to correct the German: Nur ein Schwein trinkt (not drinkt) allein.

I agree that Americans have a huge hangup about drinking alone in a pub/bar. But then find a pub/bar in the States that doesn't have a TV blaring at you. Hardly allows for silent contemplation.

However, as a woman, I have to concur with Kristy that unfortunately, we are often not just left to enjoy our drinks by ourselves... though the venue makes a big difference as to whether or not a lone female drinker is acceptable or not. Lone female drinkers seem to enjoy reading or knitting or listening to music/podcast; so the choice of a beer as opposed to coffee or tea seems incidental.

Tandleman said...

Anon: The pedant in you doesn't understand Bavarian dialect! I thought what you thought too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course. Bayrisch. They live in a linguistic world of their own and when phonetically written, drinkt is correct.

Mark, said...

I firmly believe in the pub as a haven Tandleman (as well as something inherently sociable); it's often a pub of a certain DNA. I have three such havens I could drink in alone, happy with a book, The Blizzard or a good picture on the wall to get my mind going. Sometimes pencil and paper will do. I'll probably keep them to myself so no one else arrives to break the spell. ;-)