Thursday, 23 January 2020

One wrong doesn’t excuse another

Pellicle magazine has recently published an article entitled Pubs, Parenthood and Children at the Heart of the Community advocating a more tolerant attitude to children in pubs. Now, I’ve been over this ground many times before, so I don’t propose to revisit it here. However, I can’t help thinking that the article paints a rather rose-tinted picture of mummy happily sipping her third of craft beer with her friends while little Jocasta quietly sits with a colouring book, which all too often bears little relation to reality.

One argument that came up in discussion about this was the old chestnut that “what adults do in pubs is far worse than a few noisy children”. Now, in extremis, this is undoubtedly true, but it is essentially a classic example of the logical fallacy of tu quoque, that wrongdoing by one group in some may justifies or excuses the (possibly less serious) wrongdoing by another group.

I also have to say that, in my experience, witnessing inappropriate adult behaviour in pubs is extremely rare. This is true not only of actions at the extreme end of the scale such as fighting, or being abusive or threatening, but also more low-level behaviour such as shouting too loudly, throwing tantrums or deliberately annoying or pestering others. Of course it does happen, but it isn’t an everyday occurrence.

It has to be remembered, though, that behaviour has to be taken in context, and what might be par for the course when the local team win a football match, or in a lively city-centre bar late at night, would stand out like a sore thumb at lunchtime in a rural gastropub. Pubs often, by definition, are somewhat boisterous – that comes with the territory.

Children in pubs can often behave in a way that would be entirely normal for the playground, but is inappropriate for a pub environment and would not be considered acceptable in adults. (By “pub” I mean a drinking place, not a casual dining venue) It doesn’t mean that you hate children not to want to be in the presence of their happy laughter all the time.

The article rightly points to the importance of the pub as a “third space”, a refuge where people can relax away from the pressures of the workplace and the home. And, for many people, that also means an adult space that offers a respite from the responsibility of tending to children’s needs, and where inhibitions can be loosened somewhat. Is that something so unreasonable to ask for?

10 comments:

  1. My favourite pub has a large sign on the door saying that no-one under the age of 14 is allowed in the bar. That's just one of the reasons why my wife & I regularly make a 15 mile round trip to drink in it.

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  2. I don't often witness adults running up and down screaming or crying loudly and persistently for over an hour.

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  3. I visited the Drawing Board, in Leamington Spa recently, this place usually has parents with young children in during lunchtimes and early afternoons, but is more of a drinking night spot later on.

    On the whole this works well, most of the little ones are well behaved, if a little noisy, but the decibel level is probably a lot lower than later in the evening when it's a adult environment. If you want a quiet pub, this place may not meet your needs, but it's a popular place and all pubs need customers to survive and thrive. You maybe happy to find somewhere with one man and his dog that offers greater peace a quiet, but that doesn't pay the rent etc.

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    Replies
    1. Decibel level doesn't tell the whole story though. A shrieking child may record less on a meter than a busy crowd of adults but the higher pitch of the sound is far more disturbing. We are genetically programmed to respond anxiously to the sound of a child in distress.

      But, TBH, I find some adult female voices to be be equally annoying.

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  4. I've just seen the counter has ticked over to 20000 closed pubs since the ban. What a loss to our culture,

    Ian J

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  5. Definitely a loss Ian J, but there are plenty of other factors behind these closures, apart from the smoking ban - despite what Pub Curmudgeon would have us think.

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    Replies
    1. Pub Co's being a major factor.

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    2. I have never said that the smoking ban was a monocausal explanation for pub closures, as you know very well. So it becomes pretty tedious when you and others suggest that I have.

      However, it has certainly been a significant factor, something even recognised by Pete "Thumper" Brown in his recent blogpost.

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    3. Pete Brown is also pretty withering about the anti-pubco conspiracy theorists in the blogpost I linked to in the previous comment.

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    4. Pubcos have hardly been innocent players and are still playing with the field firmly tilted towards their goal, but I agree that there more factors involved in what he appropriately calls a correction in the numbers of pubs. The smoking ban probably hastened the demise of many, but they'd have gone anyway as the demand for traditional wet-only pubs has almost disappeared.

      Delete

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