Pub Politics: Pistols at Dawn

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

By Oliver James Pike

(Part of the Pub Politics Series) - All Policy Ideas Were Conceived in the Pub: Do not Take Them Seriously

We’ve all been there. You are at the bar for what feels like an eternity only to have someone, who has just arrived, wave down the bartender like a self-important earl from a costume drama. To your astonishment they get served first! All of your patience and good manners have been rewarded with nought but a poorly pulled pint exactly 1 minute and 15 seconds later than expected. At nightclubs the situation can be even worse. You wait for your turn ,as people in the civilised world are accustomed to doing, only for the pathetic metrosexual manning the bar to serve the females first in a miserable attempt to flirt. Like a shark to a bleeding fish the sad saps who work the nightclub bars are drawn to the girls while us men might as well be invisible algae to this metaphorical beast.

Its not just getting a drink that spawns such annoyance. If you go to any supermarket and naively attempt to use the self-checkout, things will go wrong. When this occurs, the useless fool they have drafted to provide assistance will be no doubt scrolling through his Instagram, unaware of your plight. Meanwhile the checkout gets under your skin in a way only a robot designed to replace humans ever could. Go into the street and either you will step in dog crap abandoned by some inconsiderate moron or be bumped into by an airhead swiping through their tinder like a sex crazed zombie.

These are just a few examples of times where our patience is tested. Other include people clapping at the end of a film, slow walkers, cheating in pub quizzes, posting a picture of an avocado and kale-based lunch and wearing sandals in public. Of course, all of these slights against our sensibilities and patience are to be avoided but how should we deal with them when they occur? Is duelling the answer?

The law is not keen on duelling or even fighting for that matter. It is widely held that asking for a fight does not amount to consent to be hurt and ,of course, the state would not want to be seen in anyway supporting potentially lethal faceoffs in the form of pistols at dawn. But for arguments sake, is there anything fundamentally wrong with the concept of a duel? If both parties consent to the showdown and are aware of the risks, why should we stop them? Furthermore, we could even remove lethality from the equation with armour or non-lethal bullets while still providing a channel for settling disputes with armed combat..

Unlike an unprovoked attack or a messy street brawl ,used to settle things in the modern world, a duel was founded on agreed upon rules and done in an orderly fashion. They were done in a honourable manner and were not perceived at the time as an uncivilised feature of society. In fact 2 Prime ministers have engaged in duels during their terms along with thousands of gentlemen throughout history. Furthermore, films and tv have consistently portrayed duelling as a noble and heroic thing to do. Everyone from wild west heroes to legendary characters from classic novels have settled things with rapiers and pistols. Imagine bringing just an ounce of this epic Clint Eastwood style encounter to the petty and moribund disputes of the modern age. Who gets the girl? Duel. Who should be promoted? Duel. Who should do the dishes? Duel. Duelling could potentially bring some civility back to our social disputes and see the end of street fights and drunken scuffles as people choose to challenge their foe to pistols at dawn (hangover permitting) rather than a punch up outside McDonalds.

Duels would also serve a preventative purpose. The threat of potentially being challenged to a duel, thus either engaging in combat or failing to rise to the challenge like a coward , would encourage people to be more mindful of others. Every time their dog defecates, their deodorant wears off or they even think for a second about skipping in line, images of a future faceoff will flash before their eyes. They will feel their heart beat faster as they mentally place themselves in the town square, fingers teasing the grip of a pistol, sweat pounding from their forehead. “Its not worth it!” they will declare as they refrain from getting on our collective nerves.