Saturday, 28 November 2009

Is the sun over the yardarm yet?

I recently concluded a poll asking the question “What is the earliest you have had an alcoholic drink in a pub in the past month?”

There were a staggering 98 responses, which is by some way a record for this blog, although the current smoking policy poll looks on course to beat it. The results were as follows:

Before noon: 21 (22%)
Before 1 pm: 21 (22%)
Before 2 pm: 6 (6%)
Between 2 and 5 pm: 16 (16%)
Between 5 and 7 pm: 7 (7%)
Before 8 pm: 1 (1%)
Before 9 pm: 2 (2%)
After 9 pm: 2 (2%)
I haven't had a drink in a pub: 22 (22%)

It was really just meant as a general look at patterns of drinking, although the thought was at the back of my mind that it might reveal lunchtime drinking had become relatively uncommon. In fact, quite a high proportion of respondents said they had had a drink before 1 pm, with a gratifying 22% having started before noon.

In some quarters there seems to be a stigma against drinking before noon, and certainly far fewer pubs open before noon than used to, but Wetherspoon’s seem to do decent business out of it, and were not short of custom when, a few years ago, they brought the opening time of many of their pubs forward from 11 am to 10 am.

I haven’t actually had a drink before noon in the past month myself, although I have been waiting outside a pub door at noon on a Sunday.

There was also a surprisingly high number of people who said the earliest they had had a drink was between 2 and 5 pm . To me this is a rather unusual pattern of behaviour – does it perhaps reflect people knocking off work early on Fridays and heading straight to the pub?

It was also surprising, given that the main themes of this blog are pubs and beer, that the largest single group said they had not had a drink in a pub at all in the past month. Are they stay-at-home smokers, I wonder, or just people who come here out of a wider political interest but don’t actually go in pubs? That might be something worthy of a future poll.

Interestingly, although the phrase “is the sun over the yardarm?” is usually used nowadays to refer to early evening, its origins refer to the late morning, which is the sense in which I use it here.

21 comments:

  1. The sun is always over the yardarm somewhere in the world.
    Besides tastebuds work better in the morning.

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  2. If you do a re-run Mudgie, you might want to ask that question specifically:

    "Have you stopped going to pubs altogether"?

    With 53+ pubs closing down every week I think the question is very relevant.

    CR.

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  3. CR, I don't want to have more than two polls running at the same time, but maybe "How has your pattern of pubgoing changed since 1 July 2007?" is one worth storing up in the pipeline.

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  4. Martin, Cambridge28 November 2009 at 21:57

    Obviously, landlords are entitled to open when they like, but I do note that with each new Beer Guide the number of pubs open before noon, even in city centres, gets much smaller.

    I recall a wonderful morning session in Coventry in the 90's (the Black Horse among several others served a great pint of Bass at 10am to mature regulars).

    I suspect this reflects the reduced use of pubs by the recently retired, and not just due to the smoking ban. Wetherspoons seem to do great business before noon.

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  5. I have no problem with landlords opening when they like - I just wish they would put up a sign outside telling us when they do open!

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  6. I have this argument with Mrs S-E on a regular basis. Normally about midday of a weekend when I am thinking about having a G&T.

    The sun goes up and gets over the yardarm - somewhere between 10 & 11:30 - early in the colonies, as is entirely appropriate, and later in the frozen North (where whisky is in the water regardless, so the test less vital.)

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  7. I've already remarked my horror that 22% of readers of a beer blog haven't been to the pub.

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  8. "I've already remarked my horror that 22% of readers of a beer blog haven't been to the pub."

    I bet, 22% of those readers did not stop eating or drinking.
    A beer blog is about beer as I understand.
    To me personally, a good beer just doesn't taste as good without my cigarette.

    flex

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  9. "... in the past month" would tend to be relevant, Tandleman.

    It doesn't say that they haven't enjoyed beer elsewhere.

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  10. Interesting results, with more early drinkers than I expected. Mind you, I was in the noon to 1pm band.

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  11. I'm not a great fan of lunchtime drinking, except of course when I'm on holiday, or when out walking. However, even the latter has its drawbacks as I discovered on my recent South Downs Walk. A pint or two at lunchtime is fine, but anything more than that, or a longer time spent in the pub makes for slow progress in the afternoon.

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  12. In the Sports Bar at Cologne railway station, happy hour is from 7 to 9 - in the morning! The Germans have a word for it - frühschoppen, or "early shopping". In the Franconian region of Germany, many of the pubs are open at 9 in the morning, with some in the towns open at 8!

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  13. 22% don't go in pubs eh? I am not the only cooking lager aficionado!

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  14. Have you not been in a pub or bar of any kind in the past month, Cookie?

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  15. I have not set foot in a pub, cafe or restaurant since August 2007. Were more smokers to do the same, the smoking ban would be gone within weeks. Effective protest does involve inconvenience and, unlike other groups, smokers, with a few exceptions, aren't up for it.

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  16. I think you are a little mistaken there, Anonymous. The ban would not be lifted because pubs were going bust; that's not a bug, it is the intended result.

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  17. Brian foD, are you saying that the smoking ban was intended to close pubs? I'm sure that both many politicians and members of the public don't like them, but closures on such a large scale with the associated job losses don't bring in votes. Although it should have been clear from the Irish experience - closures during an economic boom - I think most politicians were shocked by the effect of the smoking ban and that's why they steer clear of extending it to patios, cars, etc. Of course the mentally ill have been given a good kicking with smoking banned in secure mental units, but there are not many votes there.
    Yours, anon.

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  18. I think to some extent the curtailment of the old-fashioned male working-class drinking culture and its replacement with a "modern" café culture oriented towards food and families was seen, not maybe as the prime purpose of the smoking ban, but as a desirable side-effect.

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  19. Quite, Curmudgeon. I'd put it a little more strongly than that; the chief purpose of government policy on pubs and beer is to stop poor people from drinking. I don't know why this should be the case, but it has been so ever since the Malt Tax.

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  20. There was also a surprisingly high number of people who said the earliest they had had a drink was between 2 and 5 pm . To me this is a rather unusual pattern of behaviour – does it perhaps reflect people knocking off work early on Fridays and heading straight to the pub?

    Or it could be that they are counting the weekend where they get to the pub for one (or two) before dinner, but didn't get there at lunchtime!

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  21. the chief purpose of government policy on pubs and beer is to stop poor people from drinking.

    They don't seem too bothered about them getting quietly pissed at home, but they certainly don't want them meeting up in pubs and plotting subversion.

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