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Miserable in Winchester 02: Down the Pub. How to be miserable

Von | 28.02.2009, 20:00 | 13 Kommentare

Winchester is strictly ABC-list. Accountants & Advertisers and Bankers and Councilworkers. That´s Winchester. Not that it matters, in a pub.


I took my thick Austrian coat off the hook, went for the door, turned round.
„I´m going out.“
„Meeting somebody, dear?“ she asked.
„Honest or polite version?“ –
„Polite, please.“ –
„I´m going down the pub to drown my manhood in a pint of beer.“ –
„How very subtle,“ she said. „Is the honest version less understated?“ –
„Pretty much the same. Just the pub is a brothel and the beer a whore.“ –
„Now will you lower your voice! The kids might listen.“ –
„No they won´t. They never do.“ –

So the Pub it was. Obviously. There is no brothel in Winchester, cause there is no port. There is no sea and no ship, just a few ducks on a river that is flooded every other year. There are no sailors and travellers, just a bunch of local ABC-listers. Winchester is strictly ABC-list. Accountants & Advertisers and Bankers and Councilworkers. That´s Winchester. Not that it matters, in a pub. Once you enter, you drop your profession with the coat. After all, a pub is a pub and more often than not it is YOUR pub. Your watering hole, your home from home, the extension of something your home doesn´t provide.

My dear fellow Austrians, if you ever wondered why the living rooms of English houses are often so tiny, the Pub is a clue. The other one is about economy with an open fireplace. The average English Living Room is exactly as big as the average fireplace manages to heat without radiator, which is not very. Living is not exactly the accurate word for what a family does in that room. It´s more of a huddling room, a stop-over spot between dinner and bed. You huddle round the fireplace and feed it with the occasional log of wood. Then there´s a sofa or two; and a TV-set, in one of the corners. Not a massive TV-set, that would be soo Harestock or Stanmore – which are places on the edge of town. Places where they are not quite as fussy about class. But I´m talking Winchester Central here, where Middle Class is „it“ and Middle classes don´t allow their TV-set to headline the living room. That part is reserved for the mantelpiece with the fire in it and the delicate artsy bits on it and the impressive mirror above it. There you DO tradition. You relax with The Loved Ones and digest the dinner and chat the chat and watch the telly. And feel miserable, as you do. Proper miserable. And then you might go to the pub.

Two things about being miserable. One, it is not what the German speaker means when he says „miserabel“. That would be awful. No, being miserable is closer to the Austrian „grantig“, you know, that bluesy if somewhat energizing feeling of being underwhelmed – by life, by the times, by the bankers, by the performance of your football team, by yourself. By everything, basically.
Two, why be miserable? Well, it is not a big deal. It just feels right. Take the opposite. Take happiness. Happiness can feel quite nice at times, but generally it is a bit overrated, no? Look at The Happy People. They are all alike, no? There is not much variety in being happy. But there is an astonishing wealth in the ways of being miserable. Every miserable person is miserable in his or her own way. That´s what Tolstoy said, incidentally, or at least he said something to that effect. And that is that: Being miserable is really about attitude. About individualism. About being different. Also, it seems to be suitable for living in England. I read a newspaper article the other day, where the author, reflecting on the recent boom before the present bust, pointed out that „if money could not buy the British happiness, it at least allowed them to be miserable in greater comfort“.  And this is where Winchester comes in. Being miserable in Winchester is misery in as great a comfort as it gets. Winchester is the richest town in England. So, in my very personal miserable way, I took to Winchester like a duck takes to the water of the river Itchen.

For me, it doesn´t take an effort to get „grantig“. It just happens. I might relax with The Loved Ones in the living room and feed a log to the fire and switch on the telly to get some news and there we go. There is something strange going at BBC News these days. All you want them to do is get some scummy banker and make him feel really bad about flushing the economy down the drain. Instead, you get – first – a rather pornographic update (tears & cash for death) about the final days of an unfortunate cancer-stricken, formerly „chav“ woman called Jade Goody whose claims to „being in the public interest“ is a reality show where she loudmouthed somebody. Following that, you get a report of a 71year old rollerblader who allegedly enrages the people of a seaside town by – rollerblading. It is all very odd. And I´m getting miserable. Again. Which is okay, but not all the time. Sometimes, being miserable can get me down. Then I go to the pub.
My pub is The Alfred. Actually, it is The King Alfred Pub and we go a long way back. To 1993. Then, I would come in and the barman would say „Yes?“ and I´d say „A pint of Fosters“ and he´d say „A pint of Fosters, pleeaase!“ Now, they say „A pint of Fosters?“ and I go „yes, please“. On a very fortunate monday I might even get „Another Fosters, dahling?“ Yes, we have grown on each other, The Alfred and me. Same with the pub-crowd. The people here are not exactly family, but they are familiar.
Today is monday. Incidentally. Going to The Alfred, it is quite useful to be aware of the day of the week, cause every day draws a different crowd. In the early years, I used to go thursdays cause we played football nearby. Now, I usually go tuesdays. That´s when „Special K“ and „True Blue“ are there. They´re my friends and please forgive the codes but I wouldn´t want to alienate them, you see. K is the one who always says „but you are home HERE“ when I  mention how differently we go about things „back home“. And True Blue is a Chelsea supporter, of course, whose League Weekend Wounds are still fresh on  tuesday, so he´d say „I´m resigned to Premier League failure due to lack of variety. We should sell Drogba“ or „I don´t care about League positions as long as Liverpool don´t win“. He is not a happy chappy these days, is True Blue, though now that Chelsea FC have hired a coach called Guus Hiddink, he might cheer up. But anyway, today is monday. Darts-monday. And Hull play Tottenham on telly, which means there are not many people in the Alfred. Which suits me just fine. After all, I am grantig.

Of course, some people drink here every day. There is that old geezer who looks a bit like Richard Attenborough and seems to have an off-day today, sporting a bandaged nose and muttering „it´s all because of that silly effing mother of yours“ into his mobile, which is a bit rude, really. Then there is The Old Indian Jew and he says I got a chip on my shoulder, which is a complete lie. I don´t even like chips. But so what, you know. He is one of those guys not unlike me, doesn´t quite fit in, doesn´t quite know what to do about it. He is what they call a maverick and so am I, albeit one with an accent.
So there I sit by the Bar, a pint of Fosters in hand, and there is Bargirl Amy (not her real name, obviously), one of those human Prozacs you need when times are getting overly miserable. You see Amy, you feel better, and she doesn´t have to do anything out of the ordinary for it. Just pull your pint. She wears girl-next-door and is quite pretty. Not overly beautiful pretty or perfectly proportioned pretty, but she is perfect in details. The arse, more or less. Sorry, the bottom. You got to say it in a belittling way in Winchester. „Arse“ is so London, so in-your-face, so Russell Brand (who is a comedian and has licence to talk rude). You got to say bottom. Bottom is like a nod, a nod to the ground. Look, down there, that … bottom. And Amy´s bottom is always there, it is something to rely on. A reliable time off misery. Now, where was I …

Anyway, Winchester. There are so many things to tell about this place, the people, the life, the culture, the VIPs, the everything. But not now. It´s last orders now and I´m a bit bottoms-up.

13 Kommentare »

  • […] Alarm galt mir. Ich sollte unterlassen, was ich gerade machte. Im Pub. Es war das beste Pub der Stadt, aber eben ein Pub. Im Unterschied zum Restaurant verirrt sich im Pub kein Servierpersonal an […]

  • Second Hand sagt:

    interessanter Beitrag.
    Werde es bookmarken.
    Danke Jörn

  • marindafork sagt:


    I am glad to find this place

    nice tits

  • Mr Trace sagt:

    I recall when the KA suspended sales of Stella and for an interminable age we wandered folorn through the pubs of Winchster in search of that special something (The misery years). Then came the awakening and we are all back in the KA. Hate to spoil the thread but that’s a hoppy ending.

  • cfcfan15276b sagt:

    True Blue is a hero. The only ane among you who can look real human despair in the face every weekend and still turn up for a drink. He is the winner of the Golden Boot of Gloom, the Naster of Misery. The rest of you are not contenders, sitting on the subs bench in the mini-league of misery.

    • Manfred Sax sagt:

      How refreshing, dear cfcfan. You see, I hate it when people try to cheer me up (I´ve got Amy for that). But you didn´t. As to turning up for a drink, you will have noticed that Chelsea have started winning recently, so True Blue has cheered up significantly. And between you and me, his philosophical edge suffers a bit when he´s happy. He happily talks the world into a better place, and who needs that? I´ll be back on tuesday as soon as The Blues blow it. Which, let´s face it, they will. Yours, MS

      • cfcfan15276b sagt:

        5 suppose losing one nil against Tottenham has to count as blowing it. True Blue is right though. You aren’t the sort of company that anyone would look for when you’re on a roll and winning six victories in a row. As we were. Until today. But tonight you are just perfect. How miserable can life get? You blow a match like that against a team that were staring relegation straight between the eyeballs a few weeks ago. The same day Man U lose for the second time in a row and you can’t take advantage of it. Then you draw tedious Liverpool in the Champions league. Watching Gerrard and Lampard on the same pitch is tough even for me.
        And please don’t try to make me feel better either. I’m not in the mood for it. And I’m not philosophical either, just miserable. So you lose both ways.

        P.S You’re not a Man U fan are you? You’ve got quite a few articles on them. I was just wondering, because if you are, that would actually cheer me up no end and that’s the last thing I want.

        • Manfred Sax sagt:

          Dear Chelsea Fcfan,
          ManU? Beware! That club thinks nothing of spending £30 mio plus for a player and I just can´t help finding that a tiny bit indecent. Incidentally, that is the very problem I have with Chelsea FC. No, I prefer teams with young players in pursuit of football as a work of art. In other words, I am quite fond of Arsenal but hate to talk about their exploits these days. It just hurts too much. I might, though, in the weeks to come. If Chelsea play Arsenal, I might talk about Arsene´s Boys and how their speed will be too much for the Blues. But not now. Anyway, Thanks for your kind words. With all that talk about football you nearly made me forget about my town. MS

  • tookta sagt:

    ha ha …. -___-“

    Hi there,

    just to say hi, to a miserable man. Amy seems nice, that pub sounds like somewhere I should visit? I am not sure if I will ever fit in either. never mind eh?? as brown as I am? you can always spotted me from miles away :-)

    you should come and check out the town where I live…. hee hee we have got a lots of middle class and artyyyyyy

    I love your writing, It is so funny.

    • Manfred Sax sagt:

      Hi Tookta.
      It is strange but your words remind me of someone I once met in Singapore who said `why do you look like a wolf at night, when I try to light up your day?´ She was a warm person and fearless and found it therefore easy to see beyond anybody´s mask, miserable or not. And she suffered for it. So take care, Tookta, and all the best. MS

  • petal sagt:

    you will always and only feel grantig and never truly miserable if in more than fifteen years you still have not acquired the taste for bitter! try a pint of real ale – pleeeease!

    • Manfred Sax sagt:

      Dear petal,
      thanks for your kind advice. But as it is, I´m quite in danger of out-miserableing my fellow locals already. Adding bitterness to my style, I fear, might get a bit much for them. But thanks anyway. MS

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