Thursday, 4 October 2012

Are children the new pub bores?

I have to say this recent piece by Oliver Pritchett in the Telegraph about Dave and Boris having “peace talks” in a pub very much struck a chord:

Children in pubs are now part of the traditional British Sunday, along with those mountainous Yorkshire puddings, which come with absolutely everything, including the vegetarian option. The highchairs are brought out, the doors are thrown wide open to welcome the double buggies, and the babies are passed round the table with the horseradish sauce and wholegrain mustard. The bar staff are good-natured and unflinching.

All this makes life a lot easier for parents than it was when we used to crouch with our children in a drizzly pub garden with a broken swing. But it means the Sunday lunchtime pub is no place for unaccompanied adults, who are likely to feel much less at ease than all the little Archies and Jessicas around them

I am sure that the Cameron and Johnson offspring are beautifully behaved and good company, but if the Prime Minister and the mayor wanted to hold serious talks about Heathrow and all that, they would have done better to get a couple of bottles of ginger beer and a straw each and stand outside. They would then just have to put up with the quiet coughing of the smokers.


  1. He's right about most pubs at Sunday lunch times, over run with sprogs they are.

  2. Let science be your guide. Evolution has programmed you to be distressed as the sound of noisy children as you associate that subconsciously with the distress of children.

    Parents have more experience to distinguish between genuine distress and calls for attention, hence can place much of the noise into the background.

    The solution is to either have children or associate with people that do, to train and hone your own natural evolutionary response.

  3. We made a decision not to be bothered by kids in pubs a few years back, and that was that. It was when we realised in a beer garden in Germany that we were the only people even remotely annoyed by a screaming child that we thought, hold on, maybe this is our problem, not theirs.

  4. I invariably find that the people who object to the presence of children in pubs are people I would not want as friends. BTW my children are nearly grown up so I'm not trying to justify my own circumstances.

  5. Pity the same tolerance wasn't extended to smokers

  6. I'm afraid I must be among the selfish ones, as I'm utterly sick of going to the pub and finding children running around and screaming whilst their parents remain oblivious to the fact that many of us go for a drink to get away from noisy kids.

  7. I suspect those who claim to find badly-behaved, noisy children acceptable in pubs are overwhelmingly late-evening drinkers who are rarely exposed to the problem.

    I cannot believe that if Birkonian sat in a pub for a couple of hours while there was a chorus of howling babies going off all round him like air-raid sirens, he would think it was perfectly OK.

    And, to my mind, if you're routinely taking your small children to the pub while you have a drink (as opposed to a family meal) then you can't really be considered a responsible parent. There's nothing for kids to do in pubs, hence they become noisy and restive.

  8. To Anonymous 19:27.

    Maybe you should start a campaign to ban second hand children from pubs. :-)

  9. Martin, Cambridge4 October 2012 at 22:46

    Sunday lunch, "family dining" pubs and Wetherspoons apart, I rarely see children inside pubs these days, particularly locally.

    This is presumably as much due to cost (£24 for 2 drinks each for a family of four) as to social changes, and means that you see a much narrower range of people in pubs.

    How often do you see children in Stockport town centre pubs (Spoons apart) ?

  10. I do see A LOT of children in suburban pubs, though, including, regrettably, my own local.

  11. My local's policy is "No under-18s; well-behaved dogs welcome." Works for me.

  12. Pubs should be an adult retreat for adults to enjoy. There are plenty of places which are far more suitable for kids.

    I don't go for a pint in a creche, so keep kids out of pubs.

  13. Birkonian

    Interesting: I hold the opposite view. As someone who wouldn't dream of taking young children to a pub, I'm invariably suspicious of those that do. And since the abolition of the Children's Certificate, I'm afraid many pubs are just used as cheap kindergardens.

  14. Professor Pie-Tin5 October 2012 at 10:32

    I see no problem with children in pubs where food is being served - as a father of teenage boys I always thought it was important to teach them how to behave in pubs from a very early age.
    But drinking-only pubs should be like Jimmy Savile's dressing room should have been - no kids allowed.
    Now THAT'S what you call topical.
    Wahaay !

  15. Yes, there's an important distinction between taking children for a meal in a pub, and taking them while the parents have a drink.

    There's much to be said for Wetherspoon's policy of only admitting children if they are going to be eating a meal from the menu, and then restricting adult members of the party to two alcoholic drinks, so the visit doesn't turn into an all-day session with the kids in toe. Not always enforced that strictly, though, and it would be good to see more Spoons like the Calvert's Court in Stockport with a designated family area and children not permitted outside that.

  16. @Bailey My own experience of the Biergarten is a two fold one. There tends to be better behaved children with parents not letting their kids run riot in addition to a greater tolerance amongst die leute. Our European cousins tend to actually like children. It works well.

    I know of a few pubs in blighty with "no children allowed" signs, so there are places children hating misanthropes can go to, and if you want to eat and drink in a family dining pub in blighty I don't think you can complain any more than if you choose to go into a macdonalds during half term. It's like that, that's the way it is, the owners have gone for that market and your choice is to accept it or go elsewhere. And you can go elsewhere.

    On a general note, most people are not childless children hating beer enthusiastic misanthropes. The pattern of most peoples lives is one of a youthful lack of responsibilty, child raising middle age and child free retirement. Are we saying that it's a choice between having children and a lunchtime pint? Public houses are for the public, most of whom have children at some point. They ought to be catered for.

  17. Well, thirty years ago there were a damn sight more lunchtime pints being drunk, and a damn sight fewer children in pubs at lunchtimes. Draw your own conclusions...

  18. Maybe Mudge, but 30 years ago I doubt there was as many chicken nugget kids meals with free colouring books sold in pubs at higher margins than beer.

  19. It won't last, given that alcohol control is following the tobacco trail. They're already taking about total bans on advertising, plain packaging blah blah blah. It's for the chiiildren you know - I can hardly seeing them condoning taking the little buggers into pubs where they can see adults setting a bad example.

  20. Jonathan Bagley said

    I haven't been in a pub since the smoking ban. Children, except in the most chavvy pubs, weren't much of a problem before. I guess the increase in the number of children is part due to middle class parents now feeling that the smokefree atmosphere is healthy and part due to pub owners realising that becoming a creche serving microwaved lasangne can stave off bankruptcy. I wouldn't spend time in a pub with children - I don't find it relaxing. Wanting a calm atmosphere with gentle low frequency noise doesn't make me a child hating misanthrope. It makes me someone who likes to sit and think. But, as with smoking, it's (or should be) up to the owners. If sufficient other people feel the same way, childfree pubs will appear. Some are mentioned in other comments. If not, I'll either have to put up with it or open my own - like the anti smokers didn't. Of course, all this is hypothetical. If I went in a pub again, I would be smoking and there wouldn't be a child in the place.

  21. Another point. I thought children were allowed only in the rooms without a bar. Was this ever true, or has the law been changed?
    Jonathan Bagley

  22. "I thought children were allowed only in the rooms without a bar. Was this ever true, or has the law been changed?"

    Originally this was the case - under 14s were only allowed in separate rooms without a bar. Over 14s could be present in bars at the licensee's discretion.

    This changed around 1988, possibly when all-day opening came in, so that pubs could apply to the licensing magistrates for a Children's Certificate. Some benches were more keen to issue these than others.

    To be honest, by the early 2000s the law was ignored on a large scale and rarely enforced. All of these rules were swept away by the 2005 Licensing Act, and the admission of children is now entirely at the licensee's discretion.

  23. I am a parent but have old-fashioned views on the sunject of children in pubs. Our son is 20 years old now, but back in the day the only time we took him to a pub was when we were on holiday, wanted something to eat and the pub either had a separate children's room or a decent sized garden (in summer, of course).
    I would not have dreamt of inflicting my child on other pub goers, but equally did not, and still don't expect other people to inflict their offspring on me when all I want is a quiet drink!

    Btw. our son was never that badly behaved, but looking at the out of control brats charging around our local JDW the other day, whilst their feckless parents jsut carry on with their drinking/socialising/pratting about on their i-phones, really does get my goat. Seen but not heard, but preferably not seen either!!


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