Sunday, 12 July 2015

The return of sticky bum time

Older readers will remember that dreadful vinyl upholstery in cars of the 60s and 70s, which didn't breathe at all and stuck to your clothes as soon as the sun came out. Fortunately, consumer demand has now long since banished it to the dustbin of history, and even the cheapest models now come with comfortable cloth seats.

During the same period, many pubs installed upholstered “leatherette” fixed seating, often superseding plain wooden benches, which had exactly the same effect when the temperature rose and the place was packed with sweaty bodies. In the 80s, as with the car market, there seemed to be a swing against this, with more comfortable and breathable cloth seat coverings often replacing vinyl. At the time, it was seen as giving a more up-market impression.

However, more recently, the tide seems to have turned, with many recent refurbishments ditching the velour and moquette in favour of a return to plasticky “leatherette”. I suppose there are benefits in that it is more durable and easier to clean, but it seems to be part of the vogue for giving pubs a “harder” appearance that goes against the earlier trend towards being cosy and comfy. Replacing carpets with bare boards is much the same.

And, when the weather gets a bit warm and airless, the effect on human flesh through cloth is exactly the same is it used to be, making the experience of going to the pub a bit tacky and uncomfortable. It’s designer vision being put ahead of customer convenience. Nobody’s going to walk out of a pub because it has vinyl rather than cloth seating, but, like removing beermats, it’s yet another of those little niggly annoyances.

I’ve just been out for a lunchtime pint in a pub that very much does still have cloth rather than vinyl upholstery. I’ll have to start making a note of which pubs have which.


  1. There does seem to a preference for style over comfort. Quite a few years ago, when my then local was being refurbished, I put my head round the door to see what was happening. One of the workers asked my what I wanted, so I told him it was my local and I was just wondering what it was like. "It's shite!" he said succinctly.

    He wasn't far wrong: wallpaper removed to give bare walls with all the usual slogans on, bare floorboards and bare wooden seats, all rounded off with what was meant to be pub memorabilia, aka junk shop tat. It was some designer's idea of what an old hostelry might have looked like and, as you'd expect, it looked awful.

    Apart from the appearance, all the bare surfaces meant that sounds bounced all over the place and even when the place wasn't busy, it could be very noisy. After four TVs appeared which were sometimes on different channels, along with the jukebox playing, my friends and I found another pub to call our local.

  2. Surely if a pub is going to appeal to old codgers via boring brown bitter, no decent food, no scatter cushions, no kids and then need to deal with with all the incontinence issues that old codgers that presents then they are better off with a "hose down" approach to the bench seating?

  3. Professor Pie-Tin14 July 2015 at 09:22

    Don't get me started on intestinal hurry again.
    Wahaay !

  4. I, for one, never tire of hearing stories of you shitting yourself pie tin. Reminds me of the effects of the artisinaly crafted street food of Egypt.

  5. The problem is it's always the same story, IIRC involving a bird and the consumption of 18 pints of Boddingtons.

  6. Professor Pie-Tin14 July 2015 at 23:55

    To be fair it was more touching of cloth than the full Bisto in the gusset.Somewhere betwixt and between a follow through and time to call for reinforcements.
    However,as you've all heard it before I shall refrain from a graphic re-enactment.
    On a beery note the Boddingtons seemed much nicer in those days.
    And that bird is probably a granny by now.
    Happy days.
    PS: Did I ever tell you the one about taking a dump in Yoko Ono's bidet ?


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