To ease, not to abandon: My first pub experience


Rating: 8/10

Address: The Duke of Wellington, 179 Portobello Road, London, W11 2ED

Tube: Ladbroke Grove (Circle and Hammersmith & City)

Hours: Sun-Thu: 10:30 – 23:00
Fri& Sat: 10:30am - 24:00

Beers: £4-6; Food: £7-13

Official Website

By Corinne Chang

“Hi, would you like to go to a pub, have a drink, have a touch and have a dance?” Last night at around one o’clock, two strangers closed in on me as I was about to open the gate to my house.

“Sorry, I am afraid most pubs have closed at this time.” Confident in voice as I was, I opened the flat gate with trembling hands.

It was the first time that I met ‘dirty men’ in London; luckily, I had my first pub experience the night before, and I was able to give the ‘dirty men’ a fairly ‘professional’ response.

Seldom do pubs open till 1am. I only knew this from my first pub experience. My impression was that pubs close early because they’re not places that let men be addicted to the pleasures of songs and women.

Pubs allow people to be easy, but never enable us to be crazy, I thought. I was only half right.

“Most people don’t want it to be known that they’ve been here.”

The manager’s opening speech matched my stereotype—pubs would never be the right place for a ‘good’ girl like me.

Two hours later, my thinking was: I will definitely go to pubs again. Of course, for me, it should be an authentic British pub, not one like a club.

Music plays constantly, though there was no noisy rock & roll or incomprehensible hip-hop, but only music that comforts my soul. I saw no snogging, exhausting shouting or anything unhealthy; people spoke softly with smiles.

But this pub was quieter than shopping malls. What was wrong?

“Don’t mix pubs with clubs,” my colleague, Hugo, noticed my puzzle. “Most times I come to pubs to talk with friends. Just to relax.”

He said if he really wanted to have fun, he would go to clubs.

Drinking beers in pubs would only be the ‘foreplay’, at most.

Nevertheless, pubs are destinations for most before they return home. If you come to pubs alone, a glass of beer keeps you from the embarrassment of having nothing to do. If with friends, beer keeps you from being thirsty after long chats.

I could hardly find beer better than chocolate milk, though.

Although pubs are public spaces, the dim lights and ‘magic’ effects of beer make you only focus on yourself, just like home.

Thanks to my ‘bad’ teammates for bringing me to pubs: not only breaking my indulgence of being a ‘good’ girl, but also breaking my view of a ‘stereotypical’ English pub.

To read more of Corinne's thoughts, visit her blog.

To learn more about The Duke of Wellington pub she visited, click here.