I first came to England for two years in between school and university. I was a teaching assistant at a Prep School in Chichester. While there, I joined a local rugby club. I can still viscerally remember discovering the real meaning of cold. I had seen breath turn to vapour when playing matches in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midland schools. I hadn't quite seen it turned on permanently. And entire clouds of vapour as scrums go down. I had a creaky old bike I would cycle to and from late night practices. The whole experience made me think they really should turn rugby into a summer sport up North.
Fighting the elements did create a great team experience. After matches, we would go to the pub and normally at least 12 or 13 guys would join in. That was when I discovered the more English tradition of buying rounds. In South Africa, I was used to rounds. But it was normally just with a small group of people you could get to the bar and carry drinks for. In England, you bought the whole group a round. When you were handed a beer, it meant you were committing. Committing. To 12 beers. And in those days, the pubs had to close at 11. Buying your round was a point of honour, and everyone would squeeze it in.
I told this story to some friends last night. One of them said a mate of his' father had used this as one of his three rules for life.
(1) Always buy your round
(2) Never cheat at Golf
(3) Always polish your own shoes
Polish Your Own Shoes
Each of the rules is supposed to have a broader meaning. To always make sure you are contributing and not just taking from relationships. To remember the point of what you are doing, and stick to the rules when they will make relationships work better. To never get an oversized sense of importance and feel like you are above any task.
I have always been a 'Cheap Date' when it comes to my ability to drink lots of alcohol. So I did have to learn some sneaky tricks to get through a dozen beers sociably while maintaining some form of control. With several eyes watching your beer level, slight of hand becomes very important. I did however, always buy my round.
But I can be sneaky drinker if required.