Leeds Pub ( Duck and Drake?)
Traditional Piss up.
Perhaps those gloomy faces on the subway are only a sign of the looming day’s struggle ahead, to try and make the best of it, to overcome and conquer daily battle, to steel oneself against adversity. In any case, it explains the typical urge by the English, if all else fails to go for the ‘piss up’. The ‘piss up’ is the relief valve for the English what the mistress is for the French or the ‘tavola en casa’ is for the Italians. Leeds has a famous Cricket ground and a Fish and Chips shop that, according to the locals is not to be missed, ever! I am ignorant of the game of Cricket and I must have insulted my hosts of not showing due interest in wanting to see their famous Cricket ground. I made up though by shouting them to a nosh-up of Fish and Chips from their world famous Leeds shop. Indeed, at the arrival there was already a formidable queue of keen Fish & Chips addicts.
It was a Saturday night and Leeds was loaded with expectations. When it was our turn, we ordered the Fish and Chips and duly collected the butcher papered steaming parcels and drove past the famous Cricket grounds. I murmured admiration and mentioned the names of a few Australian cricketers. That seemed to have satisfied my hosts and as soon as the fish and chips were consumed, the husband suggested we now go for a Saturday night ‘piss up’ at the local. Unfortunately I have forgotten its name. Could it have been the ‘Bricklayers Arms’ or was it the ‘Duck and Drake’?
In any case after arriving, we got a beer and the evening started at a gentle pace, no sign of anything outrageous. The pub started filling with more and more people and I noticed the same habit of drinking as in Australia. For the most part, people stood up instead of being seated and drank fast and as the evening progressed the level of noise became louder. It was almost as if the evening was going to run out before one could get all words or ideas off one’s chest. The drinkers were mainly men but a few women as well. The girls for the most part would be sitting down and the drinking was a little less hectic or hurried. The host that had invited me had become embroiled in a discussion about how tough married life was and his drinking friends could be seen to nod and agree in an almost vehement fashion.
The third beer was now being consumed and things were well on the way. I was still on my first but thought it wise to show good manners and shouted the little group beer number four. The conversation was now almost impossible to follow unless one was within about thirty centimetres of the mouth of the speaker which most drinkers were doing. The din was now becoming overwhelming and I decided to gentle break loose from the group to sit down and observe this ‘piss up’ cultural phenomenon.
The man pulling the beer was now starting to become more alert in case of trouble and saw him cautioning a few young drinkers who were trying to crack on to some of the girls. I would have thought that the girls were there to be cracked upon but apparently the blokes were already known by them and perhaps a little déjà vu for the evening. The make-up was rather heavy with thick mascara and lots of blush hiding valiantly an age more advanced than at first glance.
The ‘piss up’ was now gathering pace and caution by my host seemed to have gone to the wind. He was now in full stride with his tirade against the evils of being tied down in a marriage with a woman who did not understand him; neither did the wives in his entourage of men friends. They now started looking at the girls with the mascara and exchanged meaningful if somewhat cross eyed glances and smiles bordering on licentiousness, if a smile after 8 beers can be called by that word. The girls, who had drunk a couple of gin and tonics, were suitably impressed and responded by smiles and coyly cackling to each other.
The whole pub had now taken on a din of such proportions that nothing could be heard or made sense off. The ‘piss up’ was now at its zenith and our group had now become pissed, totally drunk. My host and friends had all sunk on their knees and proceeded to waddle towards the girls that were still seated on the other side of the bar; they all broke out in laughter with mascara running and the pink blush blooming bright red now. It was time for men to confess and conquer. The seduction of a woman with alcohol fuelled lust was coming to the fore and with thick tongue and tear stained face, the host on his knees was confessing how the wife did not really, really understand him. The matrimony was lagging and the conjugal promise had faded, he wanted to just have someone understanding.
The next thing he was holding her hand and asking her for forgiveness. My host, full of fish and chips with ten schooners of beer was almost catatonic. The girls were now hooting with mirth, the evening was exactly as they had hoped and for another gin and tonic, the men were asked to sit around and join.
However, the peak had passed and the alcohol in the men was now churning their stomachs a little. The Fish & Chips were out for revenge. The queue to the toilets was growing and many now were seen to go and splash their boots outside. Our friend started to look decidedly seedy and he mumbled something of having to go for cheddar. I asked what cheddar meant. The girls did a good imitation of puking. All seduction plans were off and he had also lost his keys now to get back in. This did not look good as I had my luggage at his place and intended to sleep there before catching the train back to London in the morning. He was now well beyond hope of recovery before heading back to his place and I could envisage a tricky situation trying to get back inside. I searched his pockets but no car or house keys. Was the zenith turning into its nadir?
The car was parked not far so I decided to go and see if the keys were there. They were. It took another ten minutes to drag him to the car and I took over the drive home with also giving a lift to one of the girls who lived near him. She fortunately was sober enough to guide me and as we got to the host’s place she even helped me drag him to the door. The wife was there but with a smile, she told me that this was his Saturday night outing and she knew the routine. The girl blinked at the wife and me and walked the rest of the distance back to her place. Next morning we got up and the husband was somewhat grumpy, but the wife was kind and full of understanding.
It was just a ‘piss up’, she said!