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.