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29-12-2010, 17:11
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Recent pub visits have reacquainted me with two of my bêtes noires of irritating behaviour in pubs. First is the “bar prowler”, a regular who fancies himself as a bit of a character, and who isn’t content just to stand by the bar, but instead walks a regular beat between the counter and some other feature, often the fireplace. Even though probably a sad and lonely individual, he clearly sees himself as the “cock of the walk”. Certainly a cock.

It’s even worse when he starts engaging people in what he no doubt imagines is genial banter. At times, this can verge on the deranged, such as the old boy who told me on walking into a pub that I looked like Elton John. For a second, it seemed amusing, until it clicked that he was actually a total fruitloop. Frankly, customers don’t want these tedious so-called characters prying and disturbing them.

Then there is the “space eater” who sits in the gap between two tables and thus deters anyone from using either of them. Obviously, if the pub is very busy, people will muscle in, but if it’s quietish they’ll tend to sit elsewhere for fear of appearing rude. The best I’ve ever seen was in a Peak District pub where one “character” plonked himself down in the gap on the bar side of a large two-table alcove that could probably have accommodated sixteen people. Sitting at one table but putting your drink on the other is a favourite technique.


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