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British Expat Newsletter:
10 May 2006

[snacks include old BE links]

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Irish pubs
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

Sorry we missed the last couple of newsletters as we were off to Siem Reap (near Angkor Wat) in Cambodia – watch out for a travel feature about the trip on BE soon. Being the intrepid travellers we are, we stayed in an Irish pub/guesthouse there. This led somone to ask me, “Have you ever been anywhere where there isn’t an Irish pub?” Well, yes, actually. Peshawar in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province for starters. But Irish pubs do seem to be almost everywhere. Unlike the globalisation of the fast food chains – which we very rarely frequent – we feel more positive about having these Irish havens around the world.

Perhaps it’s odd that such a homely institution should have become so wildly popular. After all, in many rural areas of Ireland the pub was (and sometimes still is) little more than a shop, with a bar and a few tables and chairs tacked on as an afterthought. I suppose you could try to account for it by the popularity of the beer. Over ten million glasses of Guinness are consumed daily in more than 150 countries worldwide. (That’s not as much as it sounds – if you go into a pub in Ireland and ask for a “glass”, you’ll get a half-pint. Still, it’s an impressive amount all the same.)

And it’s not likely to be the music either. Despite the popular image, there aren’t all that many Irish pubs where you’ll find the regulars are ready to pick up their oillean pipes, fiddle, bodhrán and penny whistle at the drop of a hat for an impromptu session. You’re more likely to get recorded music. And it’s the same overseas, although they’ll make a point of playing music by Irish performers – U2, the Pogues and the Dubliners if you’re lucky, Daniel O’Donnell, Ronan Keating and Pondlife if you’re not.

It could be the food, perhaps. You can find all sorts of Irish gastropubs – both in Ireland and around the world – serving a wide variety of hearty but tasty meals, often traditional Irish dishes with a modern twist. But then again that’s not exactly traditional. Originally most pubs started in the “wet trade” – serving drinks only – and the easiest way for them to branch out was into sandwiches and, perhaps, soups. Many of them stopped at sandwiches. Having said that, there’s a lot to be said for a glass of Guinness and a ham sandwich for lunch.

So perhaps it’s playing to a cultural stereotype. Your typical Irish pub has loads of old-fashioned rustic memorabilia lying around, wood and brass (preferably tarnished) rather than neon and chrome. It’s intended to be a comfortable place where the emphasis is on easy-going familiarity and quiet, good-humoured fun.

In that light I suppose it’s quite ironic that the “Irish Pub” has become the object of careful design. Take one company, the Irish Pub Company, which set up in business to design, build and help others implement Irish pubs all over the world – at the latest count, over 400 pubs in over 40 countries worldwide (including Ireland!). They’ve got five different basic styles (the “Country Cottage”, the “Victorian Dublin”, the “Traditional Pub”, the “Gaelic” and the “Brewery”), and will help the would-be publican source bric-à-brac for the walls, train staff (although they recommend that you have at least one Irish member of staff), and draw up suitably Irish menus.

All this attention to detail sounds great – and no doubt brings in a lot of revenue for Irish producers. But I can’t help feeling that these “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Irish” theme pubs are all a little bit Disney. Thankfully, the place where we stayed in Siem Reap was nothing like that!

Of course, there’s one very important respect in which Irish pubs overseas are more traditional than the genuine product; since 2004 smoking has been banned in Irish pubs. Perhaps I’ll stick to the export version!

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

See for yourself what the Irish Pub Company is all about:
The Irish Pub Company

With the massive outbreak of “Oirishness” worldwide, I suppose it was inevitable there would be some kind of a backlash. Here’s an entertaining counter-blast from (British-born) Brendan O’Neill:
We’re All Irish Now

Plus we have a couple of related articles already on the BE website, which you might’ve missed first time around, but are still well worth a read even if you didn’t!

Tony Mason’s list of Dublin’s top ten pubs:
Dublin’s Top Ten Pubs

Rowland Jack’s expat pubs:
An Incompetent Continental!: The Expat Pub

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • trannies in the sea
  • blush forum
  • used beer barrels malaysia
  • old fashion train
  • british earwigs
  • what is tantra way to enlarg dick
  • cheesy lyrics
  • rabbi golfing sabbath perfect god
  • dog in car in spain
  • alarm clark dildo
  • english spaking
  • waitresses wearing body paint

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

I MADE my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.

– “A Coat” by W B Yeats (1865-1939)

Joke

Brenda O’Malley is home as usual, making dinner, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.

“Brenda, may I come in?” he asks. “I’ve somethin’ to tell yeh.”

“Of course you can come in, you’re always welcome, Tim. But where’s my husband?”

“That’s what I’m here to be tellin’ yeh, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery…”

“Oh, God no!” cries Brenda. “Please don’t tell me…”

“Sure and I must, Brenda. Your husband Seamus is dead and gone. I’m sorry.”

Brenda reaches a hand out to her side, finds the arm of the rocking chair by the fireplace, pulls the chair to her and collapses into it. After weeping for many minutes, finally she looks up at Tim. “How did it happen, Tim?”

“It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness and drowned.”

“Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?”

“Well, no, Brenda…no.”

“No?”

“Fact is, he got out three times to pee.”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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