Saturday, 15 July 2017

Not going out

Even such a dedicated pub man as Tandleman recently reported that, on one occasion in London, the combination of high prices and probably indifferent beer meant that he and his other half decided that staying in with a bottle of red from Tesco looked like a better option.

Ever since I left the parental home, I’ve been regularly going to the pub on various occasions during the week. Not any particular pub, just pubs in general. And not for any specific reason – just to get a change of scene, relax, chill a bit, do some peoplewatching, get some mental stimulation. But, sometimes you do start to question whether you just end up doing it through force of habit.

Is it really worth forking out in excess of three quid for a pint that may well turn out to be a bit lacklustre, especially if you have to drink it listening to screaming children and thumping R&B music chosen for the benefit of the staff? Or feel that you’re the only drinker in a sea of people chomping their way through mounds of chips? Or conversely, while there’s nothing wrong with a bit of peace and quiet in pubs, sometimes the place is so deserted that you feel uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, the experience in plenty of pubs is still good, but it can’t be denied that all too often it leaves much to be desired. And it’s not so much a case of pubs needing to do more to attract customers, but to do less to deter them.

Or is just going to the pub for a pint or two itself becoming a thing of the past?

22 comments:

  1. Yes, force of habit, but routine is reassuring.

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    1. I've made the point before that a lot of pubgoing is a matter of ritual and routine. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but there may well come a point where you take stock and think "why am I still doing this?"

      If you had to make a conscious decision every time whether or not to go to the pub, you'd go a lot less.

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  2. Am about to do exactly that and go to the pub. And have a chat with no muzak playing. I really hate muzak in pubs. It detracts.

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  3. I think some of these questions are very much worth considering,and it is getting more difficult to source good pubs with all the virtues you aspire to,beer,mental stimulation etc. However,with the advent of now reliable smart phones, technology,and apps or specific pub sites we can now circumvent any pub losses somewhat,as well as more easily find good pubs when arriving at a random train station etc. As such on balance I feel the technology still gives us the edge on say a late eighties pre smartphone era. As such I remain bullish,but freely admit without the phone I would now be struggling!

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  4. Going to the pubs just for a drink or two has, for the most part, dies out. I'm to be found in the pub most days and have seen the shifting sand of fortune. There's far less people out on a Monday or a Tuesday than there was twenty years ago. Conversely, though, the local Spoons are busier on a Sunday afternoon than they were 20 years ago.

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  5. Professor Pie-Tin15 July 2017 at 15:09

    No pub for me tonight.Well,sort of.
    Across the river from where I'm sat now there's a large marquee,with 60 beers and ciders on offer at the Kingswear Beer Festival in Devon.
    And at 6pm tonight The Wurzels are on stage.
    Me and the missus intend to get cross-eyed on scrumpy listening to what's left of the original line-up.
    Happy days.

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    1. The Blocked Dwarf16 July 2017 at 11:43

      Prof Pie-Tin is currently still residing in that special Ring Of Hell reserved for those who get cross eyed on fermented rat droppings whilst listening to 70s gimmick bands.

      OH NO! TOO LATE! *dashes head against wall to get the tune of 'Oi gotta brand noo Kommbine haarvessteeer' out of his brain. Dear God, make it STOP!

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    2. Could be worse - apparently Martin Taylor has been at the Latitude Festival, headlined by Mumford & Sons, described as the "trustafarian Wurzels" ;-)

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    3. The Blocked Dwarf16 July 2017 at 11:55

      sounds like a reason to get cross eyed on ibuprofen to me.

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    4. Professor Pie-Tin16 July 2017 at 14:25

      Update.
      Heard but didn't see The Wurzels.
      There was so much hassle trying to get in we joined loads of others who gave the event a swerve in a nearby pub and got trollied on scrumpy that came out of cardboard box.Top stuff especially when mixed with bottles of Apple Slayer.
      Everyone we spoke to who attended the festival described it as fairly desperate - 10 deep at the bar and waiting forever to get served.
      No such problem at the Steampacket Inn.

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  6. On the subject of technology, I increasingly take my laptop to the pub. If I end up on my toe I work on ideas or polish off a blog post. If I end up chatting, it stays in the bag. Whichever happens, I do like to go to the pub to get out of the house and yes, it's a force of habit but one that I think benefits me.

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    1. "If I end up on my toe"

      Not British born but of British descent, so I'm assuming that should be "tod" instead of "toe"; unless you were doing ballerina practice in the pub? :)

      Cheers,

      Russ(tovich)

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    2. St Albans house prices are now so high that residents literally have to stand on their toe in 1x1 inch rooms, Russ. That's why Alex goes to the local, for extra space. Same in Cambridge. You Canucks have got like a million square foot each.

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    3. "You Canucks have got like a million square foot each."

      True, but you try pushing your way past the antlers of a bloody big moose to get a pint. :)

      Cheers,

      Russ(tovich)

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  7. Build your own pub in a shed in your back garden. Get some fridges in there and fill 'em with cans. Start up the Campaign for cheap cans of beer drank in sheds and hold your meetings there. Job done.

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  8. Just playing devil's advocate here
    You're part of the problem if you go to crap pubs and give them custom, contributing to them staying open or staying the same. Also, you can make your own craic and contribute to a pub's atmosphere yourself. If everyone was always people watching there wouldn't be much to watch.

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    1. Sorry, but people are different. Some are natural players, others natural spectators. Even for the quietest and most reserved people, the pub can act as a social outlet. And, as I said, I've stopped going to pubs that blatantly fail to meet my needs, although I doubt whether they'll notice the loss of my custom.

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  9. Most pubs meet my needs,i like to have a drink in a pub and if it has beers on the bar then it suits my needs.
    The only pubs i do not get on with are ones that have no TVs or background music,i really like to listen to background music,the other type of pub i do not like is the ones full of Camra beer buff types who talk about beer all day long,so boring.
    I am a pub lover and visit loads and hopefully keep the ones that Camra types do not like open.

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  10. When I was a very young child, I assumed that the lifestyle led by my parents was normal. They went to the pub a lot - probably most days of the week. Going to restaurants was more of an 'occasion' thing, we maybe went out to eat every 2-3 weeks. And having a dinner party type scenario at home where people came round, drank wine and ate a meal was very rare. I'd guess they did this maybe 2-3 times a year.

    35 years later, this stills seems normal to me - the only tweak is that my wife and I probably eat out rather more often and possibly don't go to the pub quite as much as my parents did. BUT I'm acutely aware that there are people for whom 'normal' is the absolute reverse of this situation. There are 'sets' of couples we vaguely know who visit each others houses on a weekly basis to eat, but for whom a visit to a pub is a 2-3 times a year deal that doesn't feel completely natural to them. Probably in the same way that constantly going round the house of some twat whose wife I don't like just to eat their underseasoned poussin and drink M&S Merlot would seem unnatural to me.

    I'm a pub man and a beer man and that world makes sense to me and feels cosy and right. But it's not that way for everybody, and we are increasingly in the minority.

    As a sociological aside, it's often said that by socialising in a good pub you can find a microcosm of life - you get to hear the wisdom and experience of a broad range of different people. This is still /somewhat/ true, but the defining commonality is that these people have to all be in the pub in the first place. The diversity of 'pub people' is declining as the pool shrinks.

    I'm glad I wasn't born very much later than I was. I should just about make it through life before the pub dies out.

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    1. I've made the point before that, thirty years ago, "just going to the pub" was what normal people did. Now it marks you out as an eccentric.

      You may have seen the Twitter poll I did recently about whether people used to go out for a drink with one or both parents when they were 18. Over half said "never", which underlines that what is normal behaviour for one person is unheard of for many others.

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  11. Couldn't agree more. At one time it wasn't uncommon to have a conversation with a total stranger in the pub - when was the last time you've been in a 'spoons and had a conversation with anyone other than the people you came with?
    One Sunday afternoon my wife & I were in the pub, only reasonably decent beer was Doom Bar, no-one else there apart from the barmaid, an old James Bond film on the telly and we thought 'What are we doing here? We could be at home drinking something decent and watching something decent too'.
    I find that nowadays, I go to the pub purely out of habit - and also to drink cask beer, which I can't do at home.

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