Just as there is a thin line between love and hate, or strong ale and LOOPY JUICE, there can some times be not much between excellent pubcraft and pubtwattery. One man’s smart land grab for a table in a pub is another’s aggressive take-over bid. So instead I shall describe a scenario and see if you feel this fulfils sin or is actually impressive work. Note, this is in the PUB DEADLY SIN section so it is clear what I think.

I was in a pub with a friend watching the cricket. The nature of this pub is that the table was close to the TV, so the best angle on the cricket was from one end of the table. The other end of the table was bookended by the window in the pub. Nevertheless we had happily shared this table with a French couple having a slightly disappointing Fish And Chips. Who left after being slightly disappointed. To be replaced by a couple of Finnish women who asked if the end of the table was free. Yet again, showing excellent pub manners, we assented. They were joined a few minutes later by a third blonde Finn. Now the nature of this table was that it was designed to hold four square on. By placing ourselves at the end, square on, we had probably extended that to six. So when the first Finnish man arrived it reached what we assumed to be capacity. And then they kept coming. Surrounding us. Singing Finnish drinking songs. TRYING TO GET TABLE SERVICE FROM THE POT MAN. And then the crazy one, possible sensing our good natured, stiff upper lipped irritation, started talking to us.

Now I work with a large range of people around the world. I can be garrulous, but I also know how to be polite but brusque. Polite but brusque was cutting no mustard here. Before the hour was out she will have insulted my accent, my companions Middlesbrough accent, the entire nations of Sweden and Russia, cricket and rubbed spilt beer on her hands dry on my jeans. All the while the stream of Finn’s seemed unending (eleven) drinking the pub dry of pineapple Bacardi Breezers, and England lost the cricket.

There are a number of pub deadly sins in the behaviour above, but the shameless land grab of two women into THE ENTIRE NATION OF FINLAND is surely the worst. There are times then a little bit of intimidation by numbers works, and I have done it myself. But when two people are clearly watching some sport (even if it is one you don’t understand) you must know that you are unlikely to win. And two to eleven is audacious even for a bunch of Scandinavians (hey you insulted me, I’ll insult you).

In the end we skulked out at the end of the game avoiding the loony woman, dejected and ready to start a war. Which is not what pubs were invented for.