London versus Dublin – some cultural drinking comparisons

13 Aug

During his visits to the London office, Donal observed that lunchtime drinking was far more common than back in Dublin. Emanating from London’s financial district, male Londoners saw nothing strange in downing two or three pints of ale with their lunch on each and every working day of the year. However, having stereo-typed the Irish as being heavier drinkers than themselves, they were surprised when representatives from the Dublin office abstained from drink at lunchtime. When the Londoners asked their Dubliner colleagues why they abstained, the response reassured them that their preconceptions were not too wide of the mark.

‘Sure if we started drinking at lunchtime we’d never stop.’

True or false, this was what they wanted to hear. However, the stereo-typing wasn’t all one-way traffic. For every joke about the Irish being wild and uncouth, there was a counter relating to English conformity and lack of individual spirit.

If the definition of an Irishman was that of a most sophisticated and efficient mechanism for changing Guinness into urine then the way to get ten Englishmen into a mini car was to make one of them the boss and the rest would crawl up his backside. And so on….

Donal had holistic experience of this international banter. Born and bred in London, declaring himself an Irishman and then living in Dublin, he received it from both sides. Rarely was he given the opportunity to explain that the banter did not apply to him. He just had to suck it up. This could be very frustrating.

Christmas Eve in Dublin was one of those rare days when the momentum of lunchtime was maintained for the rest of the day. Some left the office for lunch without clearing their desks. Their plan was to take it easy over lunch and do another hour’s work before heading for the pub. For some this plan worked out, but for others it didn’t.

When they returned to the open plan office, any slip of hand or lip was immediately pounced upon by the self-appointed drink police who, smugly or begrudgingly, remained super-vigilant for the afternoon. If a returnee so much as slightly stumbled on taking his seat or slurred just one syllable, a voice, which sounded like it came from a megaphone across the street, would make the following announcement.

“Please back away from your desk. Do not touch your keyboard. Do not speak into your phone. Put your jacket on, raise both hands and keep them visible at all times. Now please leave the office immediately and return to whence you came. We’ll take it from here. You will be issued with further instructions after Christmas.”

This is an edited extract from “London Irish Dublin English”. You can buy the paperback or e-book version on the Amazon website.

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