Random Bar Fights : A Gentleman’s Guide

Author: Stendahl

Random Bar Fights : A Gentleman’s Guide

After many years here in Tokyo, I have only met a handful of Scots. My theory is that while Tokyo is mired in obstinate peacefulness, Scots need debate and disagreement. And anger. They spend months trying to have a decent argument, meet with a blanket of polite diplomacy, end up feeling completely alienated and leave in disgust. Japanese, avoid arguments because it might result in bad feeling or, god help us all, a fight outside the pub. It’s very difficult to explain to them that, for many Scots, fighting outside the pub is just normal physical exercise, a popular way to meet new people and make new friends.

But there are rules to unruliness. You can’t just go up and hit them. Oh no. No, no, no, no, no. No. There is, (how would you say?,) a certain savoir faire to these things. From experience, the instigator might try the time served, “My friend says you stole my beer”. If they agree well, fine. You may indulge. But if he says he didn’t, this alters matters somewhat and you are obliged to pronounce, ‘Are you calling my friend a liar?’. Then the two of you can proceed as appropriate. Of course, in that case, you are absolutely not allowed to hit him. We are not animals. No. You have to wait until he has the first punch. And he may point out there are only two of you in the bar, in which case, you have to buy him a beer instead.

Still, as we enter polite society, we learn there are a variety of these open-ended exchanges available. I remember a bar in Sauchiehall Street sitting across a table from a couple, who looked a bit wild. Well I’m not a judgemental person and I’m sure their social worker wasn’t judgemental either, so we just talked separately, while noticing the football score. Perhaps this was the regular dealer, I don’t know, but after his lady had gone to the toilet, he leaned across the table and asked me, “Are you looking at my woman?” I shrugged and said, “No” and he said, “Are you telling me she’s unattractive?” Now we all have our off days, and the polite way to decline a fight is just offer the guy a beer. No fight necessary. You buy him one, he buys you one and you’re best of friends. And if he forgets to buy his round, well, you just nip him one on the coupon.

It’s worth giving the women a mention here. Do not do this with women. The men in Scotland are real men, so they say, but the women… are also real men. My friend Margaret was having a chat with her friend over beer when a man tried ‘Are you two alone?’ They explained politely that no, they were with each other so thank you, but no, we’re talking. He could have left it at that, but as he walked away, he announced to the rest of the pub, ‘F-ing lesbians!’ Margaret stood up and shouted back, ‘Aye we are f-ing lesbians! But we weren’t f-ing lesbians until you turned up!’ End of. Do not mess. You have been warned.

The best story I remember was a chap who walks in a pub which is completely empty except for one big bald guy with his back to him. He sits down, gets a beer and ten minutes later, feels a tap on his shoulder. The bald guy is leaning over him asking,
“Why are you looking at the back of my head?” He gets real smart and says back,
“So sorry. My mistake. I thought you were somebody else. Do you want a beer?’ and spent the next two hours talking about life, love and lager.

I am thinking of starting a business for lonely Scots here in Tokyo, where I could deliver the pub fight by phone. They book an appointment and I call them up on video and say, “Are you looking at me !? You want some eh !!? You reckon you’re hard, eh !!!?” And then they say something and I say something and then I just kind of jerk my head around a bit like they’re knocking lumps out of me. Then we can drink beer and maybe bare our hearts about our teams getting relegated or something.


November 28th, 2022.



I am a realist writer from 18th century France.


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