Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mine's a pint!

What makes you happy? Only, the UK's first 'membership organisation dedicated to spreading happiness' reckons buying people a drink does you good. The launch of Action for Happiness was widely-covered in the media last week, although by and large it was done in that rather disdainful and finally.. tone reserved for things like UFO sightings, amusingly-shaped vegetables or royal-lookalike confectionary. Radio Four's Today programme even got in on the act, setting up an experiment in which Vanessa didn't just buy her own coffee, she bought Terry one as well; Terry then dutifully returned the favour by buying the next person in the queue a drink and so on. But the ripple didn't get too far back in the queue. Someone decided the decline the offer of the person in front, without really being able to explain why and that was that. Everyone for themselves.

John Humphreys reckoned it failed because it wasn't done in a pub with people buying each other... well, he stopped himself short in the middle of the word 'champagne' and hastily claimed that a 'pint of bitter' was his favourite tipple, but it was too late. Champagne Humphreys is clearly his name. And if he's buying, I'm not arguing. But therein, as someone who could write a bit once said, lies the rub. Because I do go to the pub. And I do buy people drinks. And it doesn't always make me happy. Let me explain...

If you're out in a group and you're buying a round, you aren't always going to get back what you pay out. In a large group, unless you've got a mammoth thirst, there probably isn't time apart from anything else. But it doesn't matter; no-one's counting and it evens itself out over time. But there are some people who seem to manage to avoid putting their hand into their pocket on a regular basis. They're usually the same people who miraculously appear at the bar at precisely the moment I'm ordering drinks. There are still others who sit and nurse the last few drops of liquid in their glass, sometimes for hours, until the moment someone else gets up to go to the bar.

Well, if that's what makes you happy I suppose it's a small price to pay. I'll try not to let it bother me. After all, as we know, it's far better to give than receive. So next time I see you I'll still buy you a drink. But before I do, think how much happier you'd be if you bought one for me. And it would be cruel of me to deny you that pleasure, now wouldn't it?

So, mine's a pint.



  1. I remember the people who "didn't stand their corner" on a regular basis. But, as you point out, funny how they happen to be finishing their pint just as you are at the bar. One person I remember was masterly in the art of buying drinks: he'd offer to buy a round a few minutes after a round had been bought; most people couldn't quaff a whole pint in seconds so had a half instead. Over the years he must have saved a fortune!

  2. It's a real 'art' isn't it DD? But, oh! The happiness they're missing...

  3. The politics of round buying are a nightmare - if you're lucky you'll have a group of friends where everyone pays their way or alternatively no social life like me which does at least avoid the problem!

    I quite like the idea of paying it forward with coffee - perhaps a way to single handedly try and disperse some of the morning gloom

  4. Perhaps on the morning commute Hannah? Or better, maybe a mutual seat-giving movement?

  5. Last few times I've been out I've had the luxury of a small group where things were pretty amicable. Anything larger than half a dozen folk and we get a slush fund going.

    Got to say, though, if someone bought me a coffee I'd definitely pass that on. And if anyone's in the area, I'm in need of one now!

  6. Paying it forward for coffee in Seattle could be a bit fraught. After you'd waited half an hour for them to order their single machiato skinny mocha vente with caramel syrup and whip, you might think twice about doing it again. better stick to a pint. It rolls off the tongue a bit faster

  7. Those round-dodgers drive me mad. I don't know how they can live with themselves really.

  8. I like the idea of having a kitty, John. Very sensible! And I hope you got your coffee.

    Sure does Legend... although I dare say, at a real ale Camra-listed hostelry in the UK it might take a bit of time to sort out which brew, or how you'd like it poured. Still, rolls off the tongue as you say!

    They don't seem greatly troubled by it EM - at least the one's I know don't. We must be good for their happiness.

  9. Somebody bought me a drink once, and I accepted it, and then he came to my table and tried to tell me I had bad manners because I didn't immediately walk over to his place at the overcrowded bar and offer my young, nubile body up as thanks. He was so sloshed, he was slurring and spitting in my drink as he spoke to me, at which point, I gave the drink back to him! Now I never take a drink offer unless I know the buyer. And that makes me happy.

  10. Sounds horrible, Nessa. Can't say the same has ever happened to me, thankfully.

  11. I must say that mine's a pint no doubt! As I read in a comment, it rolls off the tongue faster, and the picture you published with a pint really makes me feel like having one right now :)

    Kind regards,


  12. Bit early for me, Antonio, but... why not? (Picture taken outside a lovely, country pub in North Yorkshire a couple of year ago btw. And that's a pint of Theakstons Old Peculiar!

  13. If we ever meet Tim I'll buy you a pint

  14. That's very kind Alison. How about next Thursday?


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