Monday 24 June 2013

Pint size

This article by Keith Wildeman was published in the fourth edition of Doghouse magazine and is reproduced here with the editor’s permission. I’m sure it will strike a chord with many.

Pint Size

“A loud child has the unique property of being louder than a loud adult. Not only louder, but more annoying. Grating. Like a slipping fan belt driving down the street at 3am when you’re in bed.”

I’VE NOT GOT ANY kids, nor do I have any real desire to imminently have any. I appreciate that for the human race to continue, there is a need to procreate and bring the next generation into the world. It’s a biological necessity. For this I am grateful, it means there will be future generations to empty our bins, mend our cars, and run off with our money in the banking sector. The world will keep turning just as it is now. What I don’t understand is the need, carried through by some parents, to introduce their young offspring to the haven for all that is adult. The public house.

We’re fortunate in this country that we have a variety of places families can visit. Parks, cinemas, theatres, shops, museums, cafes, swimming pools, public transport – probably about 99% of the public realm – is available for those with children. So why, with all these riches, are some parents not satisfied and decide they need to take their kids to the pub?

There is nothing for kids in pubs. They may find the lights on the fruit machines amusing for a while, be intrigued by the blokes swearing at the bar or investigate the aerodynamic capabilities of a beer mat... or worse half pint glass. But they will inevitably get bored very quickly. They will inevitably lose interest in the half pint of lemonade they’ve been bought to occupy them, and they will inevitably begin to get loud. A loud child has the unique property of being louder than a loud adult. Not only louder, but more annoying. Grating. Like a slipping fan belt driving down the street at 3am when you’re in bed, or James Corden appearing on your telly.

Pubs are meant to be noisy, but the kind of noise generated by hard working men letting off steam at the end of the day, pointlessly arguing about politics or football or which is the best local curry house. Not the screeching noise of a bored child. The noise of a pub also includes plenty of swearing, in the tap room at least. Swearing is not compatible with children. Why should I have to mind my language simply because you chose to inflict your child on me?

Children will also run around. The pub is not a place to run around. If you’re carrying four pints back to your table, and a bloke runs into you, then you’d be rightly aggrieved. He’d be quite correct to expect either a slap round the chops, or an invitation to purchase a new round, or more likely both. Post haste. Children, being less than waist height, are a lot harder to spot, and seeing as giving someone else’s kids a clip round the ear these days appears to be frowned on, parents should take heed not to put their kids in peril of this potential scenario in the first place. By not bringing them to the pub.

There’s also something slightly depressing about kids in pubs. I remember a trip to Rotherham a few years back with City. The pub at the junction of the main road and the road that lead down to Millmoor was called The Miner’s Arms. It was a place that felt trapped in the 70s and had the air of an old working man’s club about it. Formica tables, polystyrene tiles on the ceiling, one large rectangular room with a long bar down the side and a pool table at the end. Racing was on the telly. It was empty. Bar us and a fella with a kid. He had the paper open on the racing pages and was staring intently at the telly whilst also half-heartedly flicking his fingers on some kind of plastic assembled tabletop children’s game, involving a small ping-pong ball, that he’d picked up at the corner shop with his fags. The kid would run after the ball as it kept falling on the floor, place it back in the game, only for it to be disinterestedly flicked onto the floor again. A grim spectacle indeed.

There are also parents who take a haughty affront to their spawn not being allowed on a licensed premises. Not too long ago, in my local – which clearly has a sign by each door stating that children under 18 are not allowed in after 7pm – a woman came in with a toddler around half 7. When told there were no children allowed, she turned on her heels and bellowed with disgust: “What is this, the middle ages or summat?” No love if it was the middle ages your kid would either be doing something useful like ploughing a field or more than likely bedridden with consumption; not disturbing me whilst I’m enjoying a nice pint of Ossett Silver King. This event was trumped some time later when a young lass walked in at half midnight, clutching a baby to her chest and asked if they were still serving.

‘But Keith’, you may be saying. ‘What about dogs? There’s lots of pubs with dogs in, aren’t they an equal menace? Are you happy for dogs to be in pubs and not children?’ Yes, of course I am. Dogs are great, they add to the atmosphere, they don’t suck the life out of it.

Most importantly, dogs know their place, they know we’re their masters. Children on the other hand demand to be in charge and in these days of rampant consumerism and increased competitiveness between parents to have the latest pram/toys/trampoline abomination in the garden, they call the shots. This, quite simply is not compatible with a pub environment. Pubs are a refuge away from such things. That’s why they’re there.

So, if you’ve got kids, do us pub-goers a favour, don’t be so selfish, think of others and don’t bring them. Enjoy the 99% of other places you’re free to visit, and leave the pubs for the adults.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. Children in pubs are awful, with their selfish parents leaving them to run about & scream, annoying the normal pub-goers. I can accept Witherspoons attracts these kind of scummy parents but don't bring them out to nice pubs. (I do trip them up if they keep running past)

  2. An Anonynmous Boozer24 June 2013 at 13:09

    'Pubs are meant to be noisy, but the kind of noise generated by hard working men letting off steam at the end of the day...'

    Oh dear. This sentence (and some of his other 'no love' comments) illustrates how this piece is just an extremely narrow ideological vision of what a pub is meant to be according to the view of this one writer, rather that what they actually are in reality today.

  3. I am a parent - I hate kids running riot around the place, but I don't think they should be barred from all places. Kids running riot is irresponsible parenting rather than a general symptom of taking kids to the pub. It should be important to distinguish the two, and the perogative of the landlord/staff to ask any parents to leave if their kids are misbehaving.

    If a landlord decides no children at all, then that's their choice - find a pub that does or doesn't admit kids, and choose appropriately.

    Though: "Pubs are meant to be noisy, but the kind of noise generated by hard working men letting off steam at the end of the day". Ok - maybe in the pub you want. I'd want a pub where anyone is welcome for a good drink - it's almost that you imply women aren't allowed now?

  4. So, if you’ve got kids, do us pub-goers a favour, don’t be so selfish, think of others and

    ...give up going to pubs with your other half for the foreseeable future. You'll probably stop going to pubs altogether, or turn it into a rare guilty pleasure, but the pub won't mind - they didn't really want your sort anyway.

    Yep, that'll get pubs back on their feet.

    I've just recently started going to pubs with my wife, for the first time since before we had kids (they're now 17 and 13); not at all coincidentally, she's discovered a taste she never knew she had for hoppy golden ales. When we're out with the kids she's acutely sensitive to anywhere that might seem at all unwelcoming, non-child-friendly or working-man's-pub-ish. Sometimes I pick up the signals myself - once in Cornwall we were standing by a high street pub window, wondering whether to go in, when a bloke in the pub started tapping on the glass and pointing us down the street. Usually they're more subtle. My wife picks up a bad vibe very quickly, though - so much so that we almost always end up in Spoons or worse. So that's, let's say, ten years of drinking decent beer that she's missed out on, just because some men want every pub to be the Docker's Armpit.

    It's troglodytes like Keith with their vision of Ye Olde Tap Roome (Real Men Onlie) who have made sure that people like us are effectively barred from most of the pubs in the country. Dim-witted, insensitive and/or aggressive people with kids aren't going to pick up the signals in the same way, but guess what - those people aren't going to be reading Doghouse either (or this blog). Venting about ignorant parents and screeching brats in a chin-stroking magazine article is just going to make people like me feel we're not wanted - it's not going to do anything to reduce the incidence of ignorant parents with screeching brats.

  5. I am aware of a few pubs with "no children" signs on the door. If that's what you want, go in. If that business model is viable, good luck to them. Not sure there is anything there for anyone that isn't a 50+ miserable old white male.

    Plenty of pubs seem to welcome families and do a good trade. 4 dinners & drinks is better business than a few pints of bitter and throwing in free crayons and a colouring book a no brainer.

    I rarely see the type of screaming brat behaviour among families. Most appear nice & well behaved. There are exceptions and maybe because I spend more time in the UK than Europe, my more limited experience of Europe has only highlighted the good of Euro establishments.

    It says something about the British, though, that some want an escape from life, a refuge and abhor a celebration of life, with all of life here.

    Seems a bit sad to me, but I wouldn't stop anyone if that is there cup of tea. It isn't mine, so forgive me if I prefer a more welcoming establishment.

  6. "forgive me if I prefer a more welcoming establishment"

    Is that a large or a medium meal?

  7. Always large, Mudge. But kids are nice old chap. I love baby sitting my nieces. CGI cartoons at the flicks, pizza hut, family friendly beer gardens with kids play areas, fairs with dodgems and candy floss, yummy mummies flirting with you thinking you are a single Dad. Life isn't all about sipping real ale in quiet contemplation whilst some rough old codger at the bar uses the f word as punctuation.

  8. This points to the lack of a tap room or public bar. Back then you could happily retreat to the effing and jeffing while the ankle biters bothered the lounge bar lot.

    And nobody likes badly behaved children but only chuck them out or bsr the parents when they become a nuisance to others or profits or both.

  9. The admission of children, as with whether or not smoking is allowed or whether or not you need to wear a tie or whatever, should be entirely up to the landlord. If he only wants to allow customers in who are wearing thongs and nothing else, then that's up to him - it's his boozer and his profits, after all. Ditto kids. Ditto smoking.

    It is annoying that parents now feel entitled to enter pubs with kids rather than accepting that fact, just as it is that you can easily spend a whole night stood outside an empty pub while the landlord, bar staff and every other customer smokes outside because they have no say in whether they can or cannot allow smoking on their property.

    Leave it up to the landlord and market forces.

  10. jesus, what a miserable old git that writer is.

  11. Crikey, arn, have you not got the point of this blog yet? ;)

  12. curmudgeon n: a crusty, irascible, cantankerous person, full of stubborn ideas (and beer)

  13. A very unsophisticated piece of writing. You make up your own definition of something - in this case, a good pub - and then simply berate whatever doesn't fit it. As someone who has been drinking legally for 41 years, I recall the 1970s flea pits that this writer clearly yearns for. Every pub has a door; simply use it to go and find somewhere else that better suits your tastes.

    I doubt this article will win many new subscribers to Doghouse.

  14. Thurston McCrew24 June 2013 at 16:58

    There isn't a word in that article I disagree with.
    Particularly the quip about James Corden on the tellybox.Christ, I can't stand that fat oaf.
    The thing about kids in pubs is that while some people see nothing wrong in this they would be miffed if adults started hanging round children's playgrounds.
    Each does not belong in the other's domain.
    End of.

  15. oh i was referring to Wildeman.
    I quite enjoy a bit of the curmudgeonly spirit presented here, but that writer is too backward in thought.

  16. "End of" isn't an argument; it's just another way of saying "shut up".

  17. and he's saying end of to a pretty stupid point as well Nev ;)

    Plenty of adults go to playgrounds. They are called parents and carers. I take my nieces to them. On the plus side, they are free, on the negative they expect me to push them on the swings and fork out for ice cream.

  18. @RedNev, agree "End of" isn't an argument, it's just another way of saying "That's that" or similar. The argument was in the previous sentences.
    For what it's worth, I agree with the Doghouse article. I've been in too many pubs where yummy mummies have been sitting there swigging Chardonnay while their little darlings/brats have been running around out of control. But that's all right because they're middle class and they're just expressing themselves. Well they can express themselves somewhere else as far as I'm concerned. My local excludes all under 18s and welcomes dogs. It's busy most of the time. Works for me and quite a lot of other people.

  19. What a vile piece of writing. Can someone please name the pubs with out of control children? If they do for each one named I'll name 10 others with out of control adults. the remedy to both is in the nads of the manager - give a warning and throw them out if they don't change their behaviour, don't ban the innocent. The 'out of control' line is just a typical comment from an unfortunately sizeable minority of adults who hate children. The UK also has restuarants and hotels which ban children. This causes amazement in the rest of Europe who value the family unit and generations socialise and go on holiday together. Why is it only the British male adults who wish to drink alcohol privately, without children and although its not good form to admit it, many still want to drink without their wives or partners also. Remember, that soft drinks are some of the most profitable drinks that pubs sell and coupled with food sales, banning children would send even more pubs to the wall. I will not be reading this rag under any circumstances.

  20. If an author writes a piece expressing his opinion, one that differs from your own, that doesn't mean it's badly writen.

    The fella thinks pubs are for adults. I and many others agree.

  21. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've been distracted by other people's kids in a pub. (I say 'distracted' rather than 'annoyed', because some people evidently start to get annoyed the moment they see a child in a pub.) It pales into insignificance compared with the number of times I've had to turn away from a child-hostile pub.

    It's an interesting exercise - and surprisingly easy - to go through that article replacing "child" with "woman"...

    Pubs are meant to be noisy, but the kind of noise generated by hard working men letting off steam at the end of the day, pointlessly arguing about politics or football or which is the best local curry house. Not the screeching noise of a bored female. The noise of a pub also includes plenty of swearing, in the tap room at least. Swearing is not compatible with ladies. Why should I have to mind my language simply because you chose to inflict your wife on me?

  22. Mr A above has nailed it perfectly.
    Just give each pub a choice. You as adults then decide which to enter.
    Yesterday I left two pubs, both had two kids running around the bar area. I wanted to eat and drink I did not want shrill screams, kids hiding under tables etc etc.
    I love discovering new pubs when visiting different towns and often walk into empty pubs to find the entire staff and customers out the back smoking. Its wrong on so many levels.
    By giving choice you eliminate most of the complaints.

  23. "It's an interesting exercise - and surprisingly easy - to go through that article replacing "child" with "woman"..."

    A complete straw man, as there is a clear and obvious distinction between adults (of either sex) and children. As you know very well.

    It doesn't mean that you hate children not to want to share their company every hour of the day.

  24. The flaw in your argument, Mudge, is when we join all the dots of your bizarre world view. On the one hand you appear to believe pubs are a social good, worth preserving. On the other hand you are pretty relaxed and even desire the exclusion of large numbers of society from them. In this case it appears as much about excluding adults with children as much as children. One of your nutcase readers even dislikes the idea of yummie mummies necking chardonnay, presumably because pubs ought to be all male bastions of bitter swigging old codgers.

    The inaccuracy is the view that all parents are bad parents and all kids screaming brats. There are good pubs, there are bad pubs. In a badly run pub people get away with behaviours that annoy others, in well run pubs those people are politely asked to moderate their behaviour and that of other members of their party. On the rare occasion a poorly behaved family cause a nuisance you would expect them to be asked to leave.

    The thing is when you have a pub that is only welcoming of your sort of people; you kind of have to accept the other side of the coin. That is the establishment succeeds or fails on the basis of its trading success and you can shed no tears if it fails. It is not a social good, but a business suiting your needs and not that of many others.

    I am happy family friendly pubs exist and no one has to go in one that hates kids. Plenty of pubs have “no children” signs on them for those that do. I am relaxed about every pub in the land going tits up. It doesn’t bother me. I consider them trading establishments and nothing more. Certainly not valuable pieces of social history to preserve. That at least is consistent with accepting each trading establishment doesn’t have to suit all people, that your type of pub can exist but only if there remains enough miserable child hating old gits that want them.

  25. Ah Keith, the Northern plaything of the square black rimmed Islington media-whore brigade. Master of all Bratfud (from what he can see from the safty of his bijou flat in Saltaire anyway) Reckons he's the Jack of all beers but master of none, Wildman. Yes, I remember him.

  26. I agree that children in pubs are a growing menace. They don't buy in rounds, they order stupid drinks like WKD and Desperados, expect to pay with a debit card, and say "Can I get ... " instead of "May I have ..."

  27. @Cookie, I have no objection to yummy mummies necking as much Chardonnay as they desire and I could even put up with their kids if they weren't allowed to run around like mad things while their mums get elegantly pissed. If you're ever in Bristol, try going to the Kensington Arms or the Cambridge Arms and you'll see what I mean. (You may have to visit first though to be able to afford the prices in there)

  28. What I find strange is that parents never seem to bring their children into the gay bars I frequent.
    It's almost as if they find us mincers putting them off their drink.
    In fact it's downright homophobic of them to think it's okay to ruin the straight adults' drinking pleasures but not us benders.
    In fact I was only saying the same thing the other day to Glyn " Rabid " Roberts as we necked Pina Coladas.
    Wahaay !

  29. Hear, hear! From the point of view of an ideal world where some publicans need to attract a wide range of customers and in many cases this includes their respective offspring. Being 'family friendly' can mean the difference between profit and loss for those who operate this policy.

    Good read though, I could hear myself muttering along the same lines at times. I am lucky to have a local, which, forbids children and other under 18s at any time or anywhere on the premises... result? A sublime little boozer where one doesn't have to deal with 'the little darlings'.

  30. Bear in mind that isn't my article, although I do broadly agree with the sentiment of it.

    Clearly it's entirely reasonable for children to be admitted to "family dining" pubs which are restaurants but in name anyway. And, in general, you don't tend to find children in wet-led boozers even when they are not officially barred.

    The conflict comes when pubs are trying to combine the two roles. In my experience it is a particular problem in Wetherspoon's, which also tend to be pretty open-plan.

    If it was up to me I would reintroduce the old rule whereby children were only admitted to family rooms without a bar and to separate restaurants. If you then want to rearrange your pub to make it 90% family room, or 90% restaurant, that's up to you.

    But even under the current free-for-all I think pubs should make more effort to have separate areas where children are welcome, and which are adults-only.

    To its credit, one dining pub I know has a split down the middle and under-11s are only admitted to one half.

  31. Ha Ha, Mudge. Can present you the award for "crappist libertarian of the day" ? Usually the award goes to some of the nutcases on your sidebar but that wins it hands down.

    The government were wrong to regulate smoking in pubs for "libertarian" reasons but apparently deregulating child restrictions and allowing publicans the freedom to choose their own policy is also wrong. ha ha, WTF.

    I suggest setting up a "I wish it was still 1950" party, though wait a minute there is already one, run by that nutcase that carries a pint of bitter with him at all times in case of a photo opportunity.

    thanks for the chuckle.

  32. Since when did I actually claim to be a libertarian?

    And are those who are so eager to allow children into all areas of all pubs at all times be equally keen to campaign to let them into betting shops?

  33. Actually, on further thought, if we did scrap the smoking ban I reckon there would be a general presumption (even if not law) that children were not allowed in smoking areas, so we'd kill two birds with one stone.

    And, being someone who doesn't seem to accept the general social benefit of preserving the best of the past, don't you qualify as "crappest Conservative of the day"?

  34. Erm, the bit on the left. "It walks a tightrope between libertarianism and conservatism"

    Looks like it's fallen off rather firmly into the latter.

    Oh and I'm crap at most things, not least being a tory bastard. It's a generation Y thing.

    "A large share of Generation Y seems to build its opinions around a liberalism that is both social and, crucially, economic."

    But as for preserving grotty old pubs I don't object to you wanting to do it I just think it a tad self defeating. An historic building will have changed a lot over its life to remain relevant and contemporary to the times.

    Keeping pubs stuck in the past isn't the way to keep them relevant or used, unless by used you mean visited once a year by enthusiasts for curiosity.

    But you see, I like scatter cushions.

  35. Professor Pie-Tin27 June 2013 at 17:09

    @ Cookie
    " Keeping pubs stuck in the past isn't the way to keep them relevant or used "

    You make it sound like these pubs are museum pieces.They're not.Most good pubs have evolved within their community over years,sometimes centuries.If they hadn't they would be either good pubs or still here.

    It's a comparatively new phenomenon of children being allowed in pubs and preferring to drink in child-free zones is hardly harking back to the Dark Ages.

    In fact in the town where I live the pubs which encourage children are generally the shit ones selling cut-price booze so it's hardly an argument in favour of boosting the trade.

    All in all I think I preferred your lout-necking love machine personna to this current Norris from Corrie one.

  36. Erm, the bit on the left. "It walks a tightrope between libertarianism and conservatism"

    Actually I would say that is a very good description of my political views.

    I strongly believe that the State should not seek to dictate individual behaviour, whether in terms of tobacco or alcohol consumption, diet, transport or sexuality.

    But, on the other hand, I see a strong value in conserving the best of the past, whether through conservation areas, green belts, listed buildings or the CAMRA national inventory.

    Perhaps I need to define a new political philosophy called "Curmudgeonism". Or I could vote UKIP :p


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