You’ve all been to the pub before and seen a guy sat by himself supping on a solitary pint, lost in his own thoughts, slumped over and staring into nothingness. Your follow up thoughts to this most probably would’ve been something along the lines of: “Awwww, he must be so lonely, I bet he doesn’t have anyone to drink with.”
No. Do not pity this man. This man is king; he’s broken free from the shackles of conventional social situations that dictate you must be accompanied at all times when consuming an alcoholic beverage.
But why is this rule in place? Why must we be in company to enjoy a beer, wine or spirit? Why is it constantly frowned upon? This man is in some small way having his own boozy revolution without even knowing it, and, instead of tears, deserves applause.
To the pub
I love solo trips to the pub, and I’ve been in a relationship for over nine years now. It’s not that I need to get away, it’s just that sometimes it’s important to sit yourself at a bar, delve into a good book and switch off, with the only words you need to utter in those precious few hours by yourself being: “Same again, please”.
Everything about the whole situation of drinking alone in your favourite boozer is beautiful. If you want to sit at the bar like you’re in an episode of Cheers, you can. If you want to order half a pint or a glass of wine without being ridiculed by your mates, go right ahead. If you want to put the jukebox on and listen purely to your selected tracks with no interruptions, it’s your lucky day. If you want a full bag of nuts without anybody’s dirty, greedy fingers invading its contents, it’s yours. If you don't want people screwing you over and ordering more expensive lager when it's your round, this life is for you.
Doing your work in pubs can also be massively beneficial, and looks a lot less wanky than taking your Apple Mac into an artisan coffee shop. When your home becomes too claustrophobic and the walls start closing in, a pub can provide a much needed change of scenery, offering inspiration through people watching and overhearing tipsy conversations. Well it's good for writers anyway, I probably wouldn't recommend it if you're a HR manager creating Excel formulas. You crawl back to the office.
Just as every pint of thick, black, gloopy liquid isn’t a Guinness, not ever solo drinker is depressed, lonely or an alcoholic. Some people just need time to their selves now and again, and when churches just don’t hold the answers, the majesty of pubs do, whether that be through your favourite tunes, a decent read or just a mind cleansing pint of something fizzy.
The train journey
Is there anything more British than buying extortionately priced cans of lager from an unfamiliar off-license before heading on a train journey by yourself? Indulging in a few tinnies, whatever time of day it might be, and watching the landscape fly by with your headphones in is as close to being in a melancholy music video as you’re ever going to get. Add a Burger King in there and you are absolutely golden.
This is probably the daddy of all solo drinks and the most acceptable (well, as long as it’s not a train to work), because even if you’re only going somewhere that’s half an hour away, a pint can of Stella can make it feel like an adventure.
But there will always be the odd head turn and disapproving smirk as the can releases that first sweet fizz of a cracked lid. To those people who are most probably cradling a cup of scolding hot PG Tips tea, we are the ones that pity you, because you are clearly not living your best life.
Come fly with me
I once screamed at the top of my lungs on a flight to Latvia when my plane hit severe turbulence with no warning whatsoever. If it wasn’t for a handful of mini Jack Daniel’s bottles and a very friendly deaf man sitting next to me shouting that it was going to be OK, I would’ve probably burst into tears and vomited from the anxiety.
This is why it’s OK to drink alone in airports. If you’re flying somewhere on business and have no one to comfort you when you’re a nervous flier it’s damn well acceptable to have a large gin & tonic with your Wetherspoon’s fry up with the rest of the lairy lads off on stag dos at 6 AM.
The same rules apply to home life. If you’ve got an empty flat or live by yourself, why should you feel guilty about having alcohol alone? Don’t judge it until you try it, some of the finest nights you’ll ever have will involve four cans of whatever is on offer and binge watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia while eating an unholy amount of pizza.
And have you ever drunk cooked for one? Best meal you’ll ever eat. You’ll get properly creative as you pour some Cabernet Sauvignon in the frying pan and then in your mouth. Just make sure you don’t get so pissed that you leave the stove on, I can’t have that crap on my conscience.
Sometimes you just don’t want to go out either. You’ve been around enough terrible human beings all week and your nerves just need a rest; your anxiety doesn’t need boosted by going for a pint in an overly crowded pub on a Friday night. Going home after work and spending the evening by yourself with a few beers could just be what the doctor ordered, the head space session you need to restore your senses and report back to normality the next day. Because that’s another great outcome of having some time alone: it can make you more appreciative of being around the incredible people in your life, but sometimes you just need a little reminder of that.
Obviously drinking alone isn’t all flowers and chocolates. In fact, it can be seen as one of the first signs of alcoholism and depression, which is the last thing you need. Ain’t nobody got time for that. The question you need to ask yourself is: why are you drinking alone? If the answer is to have a good fucking time, you need not worry. Crack open another can and tell the world to piss off. You deserve it.