Shanna and I have been hanging out in pubs to watch the World Cup, as we have no TV of our own. Shanna is a big soccer (football) fan, and while I would class myself as only mildly interested and slightly invested in the sport, I don’t mind going to sit with her. I bring along my laptop and write field notes, listen to interview recordings with headphones, or catch up on my correspondences while she knits furiously and cheers.
My first World Cup related trip to the pub this year did not go so smoothly. I took these notes while I tried to work.
I am in an Irish pub, in Scotland, writing up field notes about an Italian, while watching the US game. Man my life is weird. And weirdly international, too.
4:14 pm Oh my god, all you people are so crazy! Why are you screaming at a TV?!?
4:23 pm It’s so peaceful and quiet and then they begin with the crazy shouting.
4:30 pm These dipshits are singing ‘My Country Tis of Thee’… this is not our national anthem. My sister says, “They’re singing because they’re nervous. Let them sing.”
Shanna eventually kicked me out because every time the horde of drunk USA supporters began with their screaming and shouting, I cringed and clamped my hands over my delicate ears. A lover of sudden loud noises I am not.
Our pub of choice lately has been Clancy’s, a little Irish-style joint near our flat that is plastered with Guinness adverts and snatches of Irish phrases. The stools are upholstered in moss green velvet, which my sister had unilaterally declared tacky until encountering this pub. You can’t buy food at Clancy’s, but we like it because it’s not too crowded, and well ventilated. Further, they show the games that Shanna wants to see. Several days ago Braes, one of the more popular pubs in town, fell from our favor for falsely advertising that they would be showing all of the games on at that particular time. We arrived to find the pub packed with over-dressed graduation goers, the basement reserved for a private party, and every bloody television in the entire bar showing the England game. We asked the bartender why they weren’t showing the US game, as they had advertised on their website and on the outside of their pub, and he promised to turn on the other game. No movement was ever made in that direction, beyond some idle gesturing towards the tv on his part, so we took our business elsewhere.
We often end up in Clancy’s, then, when we intend to go somewhere else. Today we intended to go to Duke’s Corner to watch the game with some friends. Duke’s Corner, which is so huge and airy that you’d think it was a bar in America, was so filled with people that it felt like a cattle car. We took one look at it, waved at my friend Paul, and bolted. We tried four other pubs before we finally settled into the quiet basement at Drouthy Neighbors. But the other night we went straight to Clancy’s, anticipating the failure of all of the more popular local pubs to meet our discerning tastes.
At Clancy’s, I ordered a glass of red wine for my sister and a bottle of cider for me. Specifically, it was a bottle of Kopparberg cider from Sweden, with elderflower and lime in addition to the traditional apple. Oh, and I picked up a can of prawn cocktail flavored Pringles. I have so far refused to eat them (including when I was chilling in detention in Heathrow and they were abundant), but I felt that they were an important part of the British experience that Shanna needed to have. Fortunately, they were also vegetarian.
Here are some snippets of the conversation Shanna and I had about the cider and the crisps.
Shanna, on the cider: “That tastes like fabric softener! Exactly like fabric softener. Mmm, the Downy cocktail.”
Me, on the crisps: “This is eating my lips off.”
Shanna, on both the cider and the crisps: “It’s the worst possibly combination of anything… Downy and shrimp cocktail that doesn’t taste anything like shrimp.”
I made the argument that they couldn’t call Pringles crisps (if you read the package they are a savory snack, not a crisp), because instead of being sliced from real potatoes, they are made from a potato flour paste, which is then shaped into Pringles. This is why they are so uniform. Shanna responded, “They’re extruded, like poop.”
Shanna, revisiting the cider: “It makes my stomach feel like a volcano. a Downy volcano.”
For the record, I still endorse the cider as delicious and worthy of drinking, if somewhat floral.