In my last post I wrote about my “acquisition” of a Guinness glass from a pub in Ireland. Last summer I found myself in similar situation in London, yet this time it not only yielded a fine glass, it also gave birth to a teaching moment.
When we decided to go to London (it was to be my first trip) I was of course looking forward to immersing myself in the culture and history but also in the beer. The one beer I was particularly advised to seek out was Landlord from Timothy Taylor.
It was not an easy quest. The first couple of barkeeps I asked looked at me like I was from Mars. Eventually I turned to the web in order to find where it was being served. I found it at a pub directly across from the British National Museum, not so creatively named, the Museum Tavern. Anyway, since it was only a few blocks from our hotel on Russell Square, I wound up making several trips specially to get some Landlord. I have to say it was a very good ale, especially when served from a cask. So one night, my wife and I headed out with an old friend who I have known from nursery school days who now resides in London. Eventually we wound up back at the Museum Tavern for more Timothy Taylor. To make a long story short, once my friend stated that it was a common and accepted practice, I brought a 1/2 pint sized Landlord glass back with me.
This brings me to the teaching moment. The next day, as we were getting ready to head out for the day, I discovered that my then 12 year old son had a trinket from the National Museum gift shop in his bag. It was not a trinket we had paid for. Of course he denied knowing how it got there and suggested that perhaps he had accidentally put it in his pocket. As a parent I knew right away what had to happen. But as I thought about his situation, I also could not help thinking of my own theft of a glass the night before. So when I announced to my son that we were also going to take it back to the museum, I put the Landlord glass in my jacket pocket. After stopping at the museum and depositing the item back in its bin, I told my son that we had one more stop to make because I needed to return something as well. We went across the street to the Museum Tavern. I went up to the barkeep (a pretty woman, who from her accent was from somewhere in eastern Europe) pulled the glass from the jacket pocket and told her that I had taken it. She seem rather surprised and then thanked me profusely. She confirmed what my friend had said, namely that glass theft was indeed common and rather accepted by the pubs and so she told me to keep it. I bought myself a pint and my son a soda and tipped her very well. For a few a minutes we talked about what he thought all this meant. I think it must have been something of a relief to him that I was holding myself to the same standard that I asked of him (because in my experience kids always think that parents get to live by different rules, which I suppose is at least partially true). Yet that was exactly the point. What we took away from that experience of returning stolen goods was far more valuable and than any souvenir could ever be.