January 27, 2007


Rebus on draught (IAN RANKIN, 1/27/07, The Scotsman)

When I first went to the Oxford Bar in the 1980s, I was struck by this great mix of students and lawyers, police officers and mechanics, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the political, the apolitical, the upper classes, the lower classes. It was a wonderful melting pot.

That's also what makes a pub a great place for a cop. If a detective wants to find out how a city works, a pub is the place to go. You'll overhear stories, you'll be told stories. And, at the end of your working day, where else are you going to let off steam? The vast majority of us let off steam in the pub.

A pub is also a kind of community. The regulars who drink with Rebus in the Oxford Bar are as close to a family as he's got. Ironically, sometimes these are people whose surnames he doesn't know, and he doesn't know what they do for a living. But for an hour, or a couple of hours, they know each other and they relax.

Pubs are the measure of community in modern Britain. You see that in the soap operas. The two most successful soaps in the UK - EastEnders and Coronation Street - both revolve around a pub, and there's a good reason for that. Pubs localise things. The "local" is where the people from that city or town or village discuss the issues that are relevant to them.

I think Rebus likes the fact that in a pub you can strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, you don't have to give too much of yourself away. It's a refuge from the real world, but at the same time, you can find out quite a lot about the real world in a good pub.

Few scenes on television afford more comfort than a British detective entering a pub, especially Morse, of course.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 27, 2007 8:24 AM

No better place to "waste" a couple of hours than a good neighborhood saloon. There are still a few left in this neck of the woods, but they are a disappearing institution. A recently enacted smoking ban has accelerated the rate of closings.

Posted by: jdkelly at January 27, 2007 11:50 AM

Perfect Morse fan trivia question (although sadly, I do not know the precise answer): "How many times in the oeuvres completes did Morse pay for a round when he is in the pub with with Sergeant Lewis?

Posted by: Qiao Yang at January 27, 2007 2:16 PM

Did you see Inspector Lewis? He made his Sgt drink an orange juice while he had a beer. Beautiful.

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2007 3:06 PM