TVs at pubs. I'm not their biggest fan. I can tolerate them when when they're set in mute—you can ignore images a lot better than sounds, and most the sounds coming out of the telly, at least the stuff they put on at pubs, is the acoustic equivalent of the effect food poisoning has has on your bowels—but only barely. And yet, there are times when a TV on, even with sound, can be a force for good.
The last place a visited for the second edition of Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide was Starokladenský Pivovar. It was a chilly, rainy afternoon in early October; I hadn't been there for at least four years, nor had I seen their beers in Prague, at least not at the pubs I frequent, or that I had been to while doing the fieldwork for the book, and I was curious.
The place hadn't changed much, or at least not significantly. There were few patrons at that time, and most were drinking Gambrinus, I think. I sat at the bar and ordered the house's desítka, fantastic! Absolutely delicious, the first and the second pint.
The TV was on Discovery Channel, or something like that. A bloke took a stool next to me and ordered Gambáč, just when a programme was starting—some extreme racing stuff where three or four teams of four manly-men must go through extremely difficult terrain. It was the sort of stuff that makes you stop flipping channels on a boring Sunday afternoon, at least for awhile.
I and the bloke sitting next to me were watching it, and he turns around with a wide smile, saying: “ty jsou magoři”. I wholeheartedly agreed. That got the chat started—a bit about those magoři and a bit about... stuff.
It was one one of those short, casual conversations that take place at pubs everywhere, and that can make beer taste better, nothing more, nothing less.
And by the way, the three beers that I