The publog returns with a thorny question – nay, accusation – of pub etiquette breaches against one of its number. The question boils down to this: in a group gathering when no table is available, is it permissible to hand drinks to another pubgoer to hold? The answer is clearly yes – sometimes this is a necessity, especially if nature is calling (taking drinks into a pub toilet is an absolute etiquette no-no). But wait! Complications ensue. What if the hander has not previously engaged the handee in conversation? In these circumstances it would seem rude to treat the handee as, in essence, a baggage animal. However in a sufficiently large group, who see each other regularly, it will be impossible for those in attendance to speak to everybody else without cutting short flourishing pub conversations – and pub conversation, after all, is the reason for going to the pub.

And this raises further questions. There are circumstances, we have discovered, in which the handing on of drinks could be seen as a breach of pub etiquette. But as in all questions of pub behaviour, the overall context needs to be examined. In the specific case that prompted this post – and the sordid details need not concern us – the person doing the carrying was a notorious non-round-buyer and freeloader, and being given a couple of glasses of drink to hold is only poetic justice – given that the only drinks this individual ever holds are, in an economic sense, other people’s. And freeloading is a far greater breach of pub etiquette – although it’s fair to say that whether the freeloading results in mere eye-rolling or full-on irritation is entirely dependent on the other conversational qualities a person brings to the pub.

(Further correspondence on this unpleasant topic should be sent to the publogger in question, and not his housemates.)