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The pub is a great bastion of British culture. The term is short for 'public house' as, traditionally, it was someone's house you went to.
If you are invited to join people in the pub, it does not mean you are obliged to drink alcohol. There will be plenty of soft drinks available, and even tea and coffee. In fact, depending on your culture (real or perceived), your companions may assume that you will not be drinking (alcohol) anyway. Plenty of other people will not be drinking either, perhaps because they are teetotal, pregnant, driving, on medication etc. (The knowledgeable British people think that you must avoid alcohol if you are on any kind of antibiotic, but that is a topic for some other time. (In case you have not realised, the word 'knowledgeable' is being used in a sarcastic context here.)
The British normally like to queue up politely, but it is not that civilised at the bar, where it can become like a rugby scrum. If it is busy, you need sharp elbows and thick skin to get anywhere near the bar. Even when you are right in front of it, you may find that the bar staff persistently appear to ignore you in favour of people who came along after you. It is not necessarily intentional, and bar staff may struggle when scanning a sea of faces, but it can feel humiliating. Neither is the situation helped by regular customers with a habit of sitting on high stools at the bar with their drinks, blocking the gangway and distracting the staff with small talk or lectures on whether we should get out of Europe.
One pub custom is to buy and drink 'rounds'. This is where one person pays for drinks for everyone in the group, then the next person does the same, and so on. Depending on the number of people, it can involve a certain amount of expense, inebriation and diuresis. You don't have to be involved, if someone offers to buy you a drink you can decline politely and get your own (that is, assuming you can reach the bar unscathed and actually succeed in being served).
Many pubs are closing permanently, particularly in villages. This is seen as a sad trend, particularly among people who live in rural areas. The reason for this demise is widely cited as being because of lack of trade. However, it is not necessarily as simple as that - many pubs provide proper food (not just packets of crisps, peanuts and pork scratchings). Some of it can be as good as in any restaurant, and a Sunday dinner in a country pub can be a treat for many people.
Ironically, many of these former public houses are being turned back into private houses, completing some sort of circle.