Saturday, 25 May 2013

It just keeps on happening

There are some stories that seem to crop up in the media with depressing regularity. One is supermarket cashiers refusing to sell alcoholic drinks to adults because they have children with them. Each time it’s reported, there’s a muttered apology, and an insistence that it isn’t company policy and was only an isolated incident. And then, a few months later, it happens again.

Last year, I reported how a bar in Coventry had refused service to a group of soldiers in uniform who had been acting as pallbearers at a military funeral. The owner of the bar said, slightly grudgingly, “I can only apologise again to the family and anybody else who was upset during the funeral service. Just that I'm sorry and that it wouldn't have happened if we had been aware of the funeral at the rear of Brown's, in the cathedral."

Just a one-off, you might think. But only this week, the Ensign Ewart pub on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh refused service to a group of Royal Navy personnel in uniform who had been attending a ceremony to mark the decommissioning of the destroyer HMS Edinburgh. This was particularly ironic as the pub in question bears the name of a Scottish hero of Waterloo. Not to mention particularly shameful in the week that saw the barbaric murder of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich.

This also underlines another feature of these cases, how the guilty parties often fall back on the law even when there’s patently no legal justification for their actions.

A spokeswoman for the Ensign Ewart claimed staff had been following licensing regulations which she said made it illegal to serve people in full dress uniform. She said: “We work within the confines of licensing laws.”

However, council officials said there were no licensing laws banning people in military uniform from being served alcohol, and although in the past such a ban had applied to policemen, that law was no longer in force. 
You have to wonder if the barperson had any connection with the rentamob morons who, failing to see any irony, recently told Nigel Farage to go back to England because (alleged) racists such as him were not welcome in Scotland. But there does seem to a tendency amongst a minority of extreme nationalists to regard the British armed forces as an occupying power, even if the personnel themselves are Scottish or, as in this case, their ship bears a Scottish name. Indeed, although this ship was built at Birkenhead by Cammell Laird, her successors are being built on the Clyde.

Maybe pubs should start displaying signs saying “We are proud to serve British service personnel in uniform”.


  1. Hear hear Mudgie. If I'd been there they'd likely to have to have called the police to placate me.

    Bloody morons.

  2. If I saw a pub displaying a sign saying "We are proud to serve British service personnel in uniform", I'd go in there whether I actually fancied a drink or not.

  3. As squaddies used to regularly rampage through my local town centre I have every sympathy with pubs that refuse to serve them.

  4. Squaddies out on the piss are entirely different from service personnel on official events wearing full dress uniform.

    And did squaddies go out on the rampage in uniform anyway?

    Tbh, Ed, that comment reflects badly on you.

  5. "Maybe pubs should start displaying signs saying “We are proud to serve British service personnel in uniform”."

    It's not a bad campaign to start...

  6. I think Ed's comment comes far closer to the reason for these bans than any speculation about anti-English prejudice. Many pubs ban military uniforms for the same reason that other pubs ban football colours - because they tend to bring trouble. The real problem here is the unimaginative jobsworthery of the staff.

  7. I don't accept that, Phil. Yes, off-duty squaddies can cause trouble, but surely sailors in full dress uniform having just attended a parade outside your pub won't.

  8. Maybe pubs should start displaying signs saying “We are proud to serve British service personnel in uniform”.

    I don't think so. That would just encourage the growing culture of jingoism and glorification of the armed forces. It wasn't like this ten years ago.

  9. As opposed to the growing culture of pathetic appeasement of Islamism?

    It's only because of the efforts of our armed forces that you are able to live a (reasonably) free life. So don't knock 'em, eh?

  10. @Chris. No, it wasn't like this ten years ago. Shamefully. I'm glad we have a greater appreciation of our armed forces now. If it wasn't for our armed forces, this blog would be in German. If it was allowed at all.

  11. It's a shame to hear that about the Ensign Ewart. A few years ago when I was in Edinburgh it was the only pub I could find that allowed me to bring my 2 dogs in...and they gave them a bowl of water.

  12. Thurston McCrew26 May 2013 at 07:17

    I blame the wee fat man.
    Alex Salmond has been whipping up anti-English sentiment ever since he launched his doomed campaign for independence.
    Fortunately, as succesive opinion polls reveal, most Jocks are not taken in by his increasingly desperate rhetoric.
    Personally I'd never set foot in a pub that I knew behaved in the manner of the pub in question.

  13. "Pathetic appeasement of Islamism". If we're talking about things reflecting badly on the writer, Curmudgeon, I think you've just won the prize.

    We are long past the era when service men and women used to socialise in uniforms; indeed, dress uniform was at one time regarded as an acceptable form of evening dress. But we no longer live in the Victorian and Edwardian age. Uniforms are work clothes and why would anyone want to go into pubs in their work clothes? Of course, most service people don't do that as a rule; why would they when they're off duty?

    The examples you've quoted are exceptions - special parades are very unusual in every day life - and the staff concerned were being silly, unless they were following instructions, in which case their management is to blame. By trying to make some kind of political point about isolated exceptions, you have blown the issue out of all proportion.

    I'd have no problem with service people in uniform drinking in my local, as long as they behaved themselves, but I'd wonder why they're doing so in Southport. My sister and her family used to live near Aldershot, and my brother in law, a real ale drinker, told me there were some pubs in the town that it would be foolish for non-service people to enter; I mention that as a contrast to your curt dismissal of Ed's comment. Stockport where you go drinking is not a garrison town.

    As for signs about welcoming service people in uniform: firstly, they'd usually be redundant except in garrison towns; and secondly, they would in my opinion be more likely to deter custom.

  14. I can't believe this represents a majority view in Scotland, SNP notwithstanding. Curmudgeon might have hit on a great marketing campaign for publicans throughout the UK.

  15. "That would just encourage the growing culture of jingoism and glorification of the armed forces. It wasn't like this ten years ago."

    Ten years ago we (I am an Army officer) had not got over the perception that we had to avoid appearing in public wearing uniform, except in formal situations, in order to avoid exposing ourselves to a terrorist threat - the IRA.

    Iraq and Afghanistan have changed ours and the publics view; we are once allowed, and encouraged to, go about our personal business outside of barracks in uniform and have stopped trying to hide ourselves away.

    However, drinking alcohol in pubs whilst in uniform is now very much frowned upon and should not take place without permission, as in the case cited in this article, for special occasions such as ceremonial parades. Don't expect signs offering to serve military personnel in uniform to have much impact, even in a garrison town!

  16. First off I agree that the young man in uniform ought to have been served. As for why a pub has such a rule against uniforms, the reasons have been gone over and doubtless will be gone over again next time. Young men drinking can be tribal and uniforms exasperate this. I doubt you would all be so offended at restrictions on young men wearing football regalia or no under 21 policies, all of which might on another occasion have disbarred this young man. It goes to show that those that in other circumstances would stand up for the right of the landlord to impose whatever restrictions he chooses do actually think the landlord has no such right and society either through the law or a common sense of correct behaviour has a greater right. That those that invoke the landlord’s right to refuse service really are only attempting to condone discrimination, albeit in a form they think has more weight.

    As to why this keeps happening. Creeping islamification is I suspect the least of our worries. Any job, at any level, in any profession, in any environment has certain behaviours that determine likely success or failure. Those that recognise those “rules” tend to succeed. It is a form of game.

    Within the game any decision has a set number of outcomes that result in reward or censure. The more reward you get the greater likelihood you have of progression. The more censure you get the greater likelihood of either being fired or stagnating. Faced with a rule prohibiting serving men in uniform you can either obey it or break it. By breaking it you face censure. If that results in trouble, your decision may be considered worthy of the sack. It is all downside. There is no upside or reward in that decision. By obeying the rule, you delegate the decision upward. You have followed the rule and are unlikely to face censure. You may know that it may end up in the papers but that isn’t your problem. You don’t own the pub; you just want to keep your job. You have avoided censure. As for the junior manager in charge for that shift, he is likely to have achieved his elevated position precisely because he had the personality type that lent itself to following the rules.

    Far from being a jobs worth, the staff were simply playing the game and making the decision most likely to result in a positive outcome for themselves.

  17. I don't know what's behind these current bans but, like it or not, there is at least a 50 year history of soldiers being banned from certain pubs because of the fear of violence. And not just in the UK. Last time I went, around 1991, there was a sign (in English) on the door of a pub in Munster, Northern Germany, barring soldiers.

  18. I can see some justification for pubs banning squaddies "out on the lash" - which they don't tend to do in uniform anyway, although their haircuts and general demeanour will give them away.

    But banning service personnel in full dress uniform who have just been attending official events is entirely different. My local pub is often visited by people in uniform after the annual Remembrance Sunday parade. Should some brain-dead jobsworth ban them?

  19. Oh dear, is impotent rage the best you can muster?


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