English pub

January 5, 2009


There’s an English pub in Cupertino, California. And every year around this time we (me and my brother-in-law) head off to meet Morris and Morten. This year Don joined us too. And then we drink English beers, on draft. Beers like Fuller’s and Boddington’s and Newcastle Brown Ale. And we talk about football (Oh, if you must, soccer).

Ok, I lied. Not about the soccer, where I bluff my way through the Premiership, but about the beer. I lay off the English beers. I can get enough of them at home. I drink Fat Tire… helping me maintain my New Year’s Resolution to get fat.

The English pub is The Duke of Edinburgh. A “pub designer from England”, according to their blurb, came over, designed the pub, returned to England, had it built, shipped it back over to the US in bits, rebuilt it in Cupertino. And it looks just like an English pub. Well done, “pub designer from England”! What was the last pub you designed? One found in the middle of a concrete estate from the sixties, where the outside is like a wood panelled box and the inside is all nicotine-stained gloss paint, deep red velvet bench chairs, shiny brass lamps and swirly carpets to hide the spilt beer, blood and vomit?

Oh, and there’s darts and a jukebox too. Last night it played “Ghost Town” by The Specials.

Within minutes of us arriving a man fell off his bar stool. A high one he was sitting at, on the verge of enjoying his bar meal (Yes, they do food at the English pub). He wasn’t punched, nor was he drunk. He fainted. He was flat out. To quote Clint Black, “the lights are on, nobody’s home.” Morris jumped in, placing a comb between the man’s teeth in case he was having a fit. And the Emergency services were called.

Yes, services, not just the one. First on the scene was the Fire Service. Then the ambulance arrived. Then the sheriff arrived. And then the bill arrived. Not the Old Bill. The bill for his meal. Once the man came around and found that he hadn’t broken his neck, the English pub billed him for food he was destined never to eat. He left on a gurney. Gurney! Sidewalk I get. Elevator I get. But gurney for stretcher I don’t get.

With the fainting drama out of the way we could get on with talking about things like, oh, Mark Hughes’ chances of survival after City’s shocking defeat in the FA Cup. That kind of thing. And why Morten now supports Aston Villa… something to do with them having a Norwegian in the team.

Oh, and we had to order our beers. Despite the bar seen below, complete with barman, you do not order your drinks at the bar. A waiter or waitress comes and serves you. Now this is like no English pub I know, other than The Rovers Return. And that’s a fictional pub in Coronation Street. And in that pub, the drinks are only brought to your table when it serves some dramatic purpose (eg. Betty brings Emily a sherry and a hotpot and overhears Norris say that Ken’s been seen buying crack cocaine). It’s all just a little bit Twilight Zone-y.

But we drink and we drink and we drink. At least five times but I’m not going to keep typing “we drink”, even though that’s the fourth time and it would only have taken one more go to make this sentence much much shorter than it’s turned out to be. And then we stagger home. It’s a long walk, through the dangerous streets of Sunnyvale… yes, as dangerous as they sound. We get back after 1am. Not bad for a bunch of oldies.