41

Ford orders six pints of beer (muscle relaxant) and pays with a five pound note. When he is told to keep the change, the barman is genuinely thankful for such a large tip.

How much did a pint of beer cost back then?

  • 1
    I've always been bemused at how few people have noticed, or commented upon, the many protoThatcher ideas expressed in the original radio series - the Union of Seers & Thinkers, the nasty council employee who wiped a couple of Arthur's windows and charged a fiver, the way the foreman was able to order a bulldozer to run over a citizen. As with the price of beer, the same with the packets of peanuts. – LadySynthia May 23 '16 at 9:28
  • Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps, please. – Wad Cheber May 23 '16 at 10:17
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    @ladysynthia - I wouldn't call those things "Pro-Thatcher". They're simply caricatures of Britain in the late 1970s – Valorum May 23 '16 at 15:36
  • VALORUM - That was PROTO thatcher, not PRO. Bear in mind that the radio series was written during the soi-disant Winter of Discontent (a creation of murdoch myrmidons & Saatchi & Saatchi)of the kate 70s when union bashing was all the rage. – LadySynthia May 24 '16 at 23:37
  • I felt that my answer was pretty comprehensive. Is there anything else you'd like to see me address before considering an acceptance? – Valorum Jul 1 '16 at 22:18
57

The joke was written in 1978 when the average cost of a pint of beer (according to the Office of National Statistics' Average Price Index) was around 40p. This means that Ford was tipping the barman approximately £2.60 or roughly 110% of the purchase price.

Despite a slight rise in the price of a pint by the time of the 1981 TV Series (something around 53p according to the Daily Telegraph and the ONS), this still represented a tip of £1.80 and would have been seen as very generous as a tip for a member of the serving staff.


As an aside, you'll note that for the 2005 film they dramatically upped the ante, presumably to stop rising prices from instantly making the film look outdated.

BARMAN: There you are, six pints.

Ford slaps down a £50 note. The barman's impressed.

FORD: Keep the change. You've got ten minutes to spend it.

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    That doesn't seem an overly generous tip, though. Do the English not tip? – Dan Eckhart May 19 '16 at 16:05
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    The English do not, generally, tip at all, except in resturants and even then it's not guaranteed. To a barman in an English pub, they'd look at you funny...especially when HHGTTG was written. – Paulie_D May 19 '16 at 16:15
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    @DanEckhart I would say that in any part of the world a 67% tip is a pretty generous amount. – Mike.C.Ford May 19 '16 at 16:20
  • 1
    The tipping discussion might be better off at travel.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/tipping btw - or simply read about at here – Zommuter May 20 '16 at 6:43
  • 1
    Just to add further context, £5 in 1978 would be worth around £30 today. thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-1633409/… – The Forest And The Trees May 20 '16 at 11:15

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