Recently I tweeted this fairly bold statement:
A txt in todays London paper completely sums up an attitude I despise in British culture: “Coffee shops are a poor substitute for the pub”
And recieved a questioning response from a follower:
Why’s that cause you such offense? Coffee shops are becoming the new pub after all and not everyone will be happy with that.
It made me ponder – why did that txt in the London paper create in me such a strong response? Perhaps I’m just becoming more opinionated in my old age. 😛 I was about to tweet a reply and then realised I most definitely would not be able to fit an adequate response within 140 chars. Lol. So seeing as it’s an issue I’ve often mulled and ranted (to my bf) on in the past, I thought it would be worth getting these thoughts written in a more succinct and coherent form here. Besides, I’m well overdue for a new blog post. 😉 But enough waffling.. what I really wanted to do here was answer the question.
I think initially it has much to do with my background and cultural upbringing. I come from Sydney, Australia, where the “cafe culture” is alive and thriving, and more specifically grew up within the ABC (Australian Born Chinese) sub-culture. If we wanted to meet up, we would first suggest any of the numerous cafe’s to meet for a coffee or meal and a chat. Although drinking is quite rife amongst many Australians, my circle of friends weren’t really into it that much – and if we wanted to go out and “party” we would go to a club to dance (like myself, many of my friends were also very into dancing). For me, socialising has always been about food (oh how we love good food), non-alcoholic beverages (eg coffee, hot chocolates, fresh juice smoothies etc) or some form of physical activity (dancing, sports, going to the beach, bush-walking, having a bbq.. whoops that’s food again).
So compare that to Britain, where first and foremost the average Brit’s idea of socialising involves alcohol and the pub. I have been here for nearly 4 years and still do not feel like I fit in with the whole drinking/pub culture. Everytime people mention the they’re going to pub.. well, to be honest I find the going to the pub extremely dull and boring. This is also largely due to the fact that I actually dislike the taste of almost all alcoholic beverages. So why go and force myself to drink something I dislike whilst watching others get roaring drunk and generally making fools of themselves? I would much rather sit in a cosy warm cafe on comfy chairs (who wants to stand the whole night?) and relish over some good coffee and great conversation. Heck, I’d rather sit and watch paint dry. 😛
I also have a very strong disapproval towards binge drinking. It’s a chronic problem in this country and it’s not something Brits should be proud of. Just this morning I read an article in the Metro that stated in a recent European poll, a survey of 35 countries, found the UK had the third-highest number of 15 and 16-year-olds with an alcohol problem. And I believe this problem is inherently due to the mindset of the British culture. The mindset that drinking to excess is cool and fun and even something to boast about. If this is the impression adults give, what other model do the younger generations have to go by? And that txt sent in seemed to really encapsulate this thinking.
To put some additional perspective on my rant, it’s not that I never drink or completely disapprove of drinking. I can enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage over a meal (have started to enjoy a spot of wine with some good pasta or meat, and am not adverse to a bit of Italian Limoncello following a tasty italian meal). I might even go for 1 drink at a bar/pub occasionally for the sake of conversing with friends or to celebrate a birthday. And if I go clubbing, I may enjoy a drink (preferably something tasty like a mojito) to kick off the festivities of the night (though no more than 1 or at most 2 because drinking and (serious) dancing most definitely do NOT mix). But I think my idea of alcoholic beverage consumption is more closely aligned with that of much of continental Europe. Probably one of the reasons I seem to always feel more at home when I’m over there. It is something to be enjoyed on occasion, in small amounts, and usually to complement good food.Posted in Introspection, Life, Rant & Bitch | 10 Comments »