Friday 8 July 2016

Seen but not heard?

Something you will gather from reading this blog is that “Mudgie” is to some extent a persona, and at times can put across a somewhat exaggerated and caricature version of what “Peter” genuinely thinks. One the one hand, you have the dishevelled, semi-alcoholic, Marina-driving codger who sits on a bench in an obscure corner of the pub, mangy pub cat on his lap, nursing a pint of boring brown bitter, reading the Daily Mail and muttering something about hell and handcarts. Then, on the other hand, you have Mudgie…

Yesterday there was another outbreak of debate in the Twittersphere over the old chestnut of children in pubs, which was reflected in these blogposts by Tandleman and Boak & Bailey. Now, the old system whereby children were theoretically not allowed in any room in a pub containing a bar suited me fine, but I (speaking as Peter) would accept that, with the increased importance of food in pubs, and changing social patterns, it’s not appropriate for the present day, and more flexibility is needed.* Mudgie, on the other hand, would tend to agree more with Keith Wildman.

I don’t have any kids myself, but I do have six young cousins aged between 5 and 10, four boys and two girls. I love them dearly, and they get generous birthday and Christmas presents. You know, really big lumps of coal. They also ultimately stand to inherit that part of my ill-gotten hoard that hasn’t been bequeathed to Cats’ Protection. But the last thing I'd want is to be in a pub with them when I just want a quiet drink.

It has to be recognised that this remains a controversial and divisive issue, and it’s unrealistic to believe that in the enlightened modern era all pubs and bars should be suitable places for playing Happy Families. So I will leave the following points for your consideration.

  • All these pubs that people complain about not admitting children - where are they? The only local pub I can think of with a declared over-18s policy is a wet-only boozer that doesn’t open at lunchtimes during the week.

  • There does seem to be an issue of pubs in tourist locations in Cornwall not admitting children which is untypical of the rest of the country.

  • It doesn’t make you the Childcatcher to prefer to enjoy a quiet drink without the sound of children’s happy laughter. If there are noisy children running around, I’m entitled to vote with my feet.

  • I know I’ve been accused of being an unreconstructed politically incorrect sexist for saying this, but, unless they’re there to eat, there really is nothing for children in pubs. Yes, we can all point to examples of families on holiday and taking the kid out for a walk in the pushchair, but in general, if you’re taking your child in a pub while you have a drink, you’re not doing it for them. There are some things you have to forgo when you have children, and unrestricted boozing is one of them.

  • Drinking and chatting in pubs is basically an adult activity. As soon as you introduce children into the mix, the entire dynamic of the situation changes.

  • I really can’t see why there can’t be a diversity of provision, with some child-friendly pubs, and some adults-only pubs, or even separate areas within pubs. Now in what context have I heard that before?

  • But unfortunately, some parents seem to take exception to children being excluded from any part of any pub at any time. It’s “those parents” as described in this comment on Tandleman’s blog:
    It's obvious to you and me -- and most parents too, I'd reckon -- but there are always "Those Parents". And any pub that dares to suggests there might be better alternatives for little Sproglin and Sproglina will not only get an earful, but will suffer the sh*t-storm on Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, etc. from "Those Parents".

  • If licensees try to take any action against badly-behaved children, they run the risk of being accused of being child-hating curmudgeons. So it can be simpler to impose a blanket policy rather than a taking a case-by-case approach.

* Oh, and I also quite enjoy plenty of so-called “craft beers”


  1. "I really can’t see why there can’t be a diversity of provision, with some child-friendly pubs, and some adults-only pubs, or even separate areas within pubs"

    Nothing more to say, except that if this "Peter" followed my lead and rebelled against all marking of anniversaries he wouldn't even need to but children (kids are baby goats, by the way) gifts such as coal. A subscription to The Economist is a much better present for a 10 year old anyway, particularly in today's political climate.

  2. I believe the children are our future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be ..........

    1. That is not my favourite song, but if I have to listen to it, I prefer George Benson's original to Whitney Houston's version. Much of the tune is very similar to Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind.

    2. And don't spoil their lives by taking them in dumpy pubs inhabited by miserable codgers.

  3. I live opposite a pub which has won awards for being "family friendly". Sounds ghastly doesn't it? However children are not allowed in the main bar and "those parents" have to take them to the restaurant area, the garden or the skittle alley which doubles as a kids' play room. So it can be done.
    I wish I'd had an uncle like you when I were a lad, Mudgie. Used to dream of getting a nice lump of coal on me birthday...

  4. I don't think children belong in pubs full stop, that is what Simey BRAPA says and Simon might agree.

    Part of the problem may be the muddying of waters between pubs and restaurants in recent years. Now everything is all so inclusive, and everything has to be 'embraced'.

    That has spilled over into things like parents being outraged if their whining twilds / well behaved mutes, aren't allowed in.

    1. I agree, Simon, but as you say the trouble is that most pubs have now evolved into hybrid drinking and dining places. Good to come across a proper pub where they still exist.

  5. As you say, there's no need for 'one size fits all'. It is just as unreasonable to take the stance that children should be allowed into all pubs as it is to say that children shouldn't be allowed in any pub.

  6. Professor Pie-Tin8 July 2016 at 16:41

    Kids in pubs at holiday locations I can understand.
    But other than that there isn't a single other reason why they should be in a boozer.
    Food ? Why bring them to a pub to feed them fucking nuggets and chips ?
    Parents want a drink ? Tough.Welcome to parental responsibility.
    In my experience parents who bring kids to pubs are fat,tattoed,body-pierced and Shameless ugly.
    And that's just the mothers.
    I wouldn't care if a pub advertised the greatest beer known to man served to you by a naked Taylor Swift and including a two minute tug from the aforementioned Ms Swift.
    If it had a sign saying children welcome I'd keep on walking.

    1. Well me and the wife took our two kids into pubs from a very young age,we found that the Salutation and trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham would let us in with our kids in the late 80s so we then enjoyed having a look round the shops then having four or five pints in one or the other pub.
      Neither of us are fat,we dont have tattoos and my wife only has her ears pierced.
      My children are now grown up and left home,my son has got a very well payed job after going to Birmingham university,my daughter has two young kids and is trained to work in a nursery,what harm did it do to them,they visit our house quite a bit with my son and his wife staying over as they live well away from Nottingham.

    2. I have no children, 'Prof', but considering your unreal and somewhat aggressive rant, I'd be pleased if you kept on walking.

    3. Professor Pie-Tin8 July 2016 at 19:06

      You lost my interest with your first four words,old cock.
      People with kids are why we go to pubs without kids.
      It's like the Calpol ad on TV.If you have 'em you understand.

  7. Me too, i can't stand children in pubs.

  8. I feel this is a subject thats often brought up, so apologies if I repeat myself, but my view hasnt changed :)

    Ive no problem with well behaved kids in pubs, though Im quite happy my own local has a no kids policy though obviously I dont always drink in my local, but the emphasis is on well behaved and such that the parents arent just treating the pub as a creche with alcoholic benefits, which sadly most of them do, which is where the issue lies.

    1. Actually even well-behaved kids can be annoying unless they sit in silence.

      "Mummy, Mummy, why does that old man look so grumpy?"

  9. Is there much of a difference between saying " the increased importance of food in pubs " and "the increased replacement of pubs with restaurants" ? I'm a Yank so I may just be a bit naive on the definitions over there. Most bars in the US provide some small level of snack food; a smaller, but still fair, proportion additionally provide something on the order of hot dogs and perhaps bowls of chili; a fair number have a full bar but also offer a full menu restaurant experience at either tables or bar and would normally be regarded as restaurants rather than bars; and finally a good number of straight-out restaurants will offer table liquor service although they have no or almost no physical bar.

    Am I correct in thinking that variations 1 & 2 would be regarded as wet-led pubs while 3 would be dry-led and 4 wouldn't be regarded as a pub at all?

    And would I also be correct in believing that a good number of the #2 type wet-led pubs have converted to #3's and 4's in order to survive while the #1's (particularly in rural areas) have probably had at least a third to a half of their number closed due to the ban?


    1. Broadly correct. Obviously in rural areas the increasing social disapprobation of drinking and driving within the legal limit also plays a part.

      The thing in this country is that pubs move steadily along the scale without any outward change, whereas in the US I would imagine it's more a case of one type of establishment falling in numbers and another rising. There are plenty of what are outwardly "pubs", but where, although in theory you could just buy a drink, you would feel very out of place.

  10. Professor Pie-Tin12 July 2016 at 13:30

    Just returned from a sojourn in sunny Tenerife.
    Didn't see many kids in Spanish bars.Mind you I didn't see many women either.
    There's a lot to be said for authentic Spanish bars.
    #Proper Order.

    1. Is it fair to assume in Tenerife there's a clear distinction between bars and cafés/restaurants?


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