Monday 18 May 2020

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Over the past couple of days, I’ve spotted a couple of eloquent and poignant blogposts about what we are currently missing through our pubs being forcibly closed, and what we stand to lose forever if we’re not careful.

First, by Simon Cooke on A View From Cullingworth, I miss the pub:

I miss the pub, the changing set of folk who I have a passing chat with, even the occasional full on row. I miss thinking at nine o'clock, "I'll go to the pub for a couple of beers", then picking up a magazine or a paper and heading there. Some days that magazine won't get opened because there's folk to talk to, maybe a joke or two, but other days you'll just spend a quiet hour there. For so many, it is a refuge from loneliness and something to look forward to at the end of the day.

As yet the government hasn't told us how it's going to reopen the heart of the community, whether there'll be as Head Rambles describes in Ireland, a set of ideas that involve no standing, restricted sitting, half closed loos, no live music and no football. I fear that government, trapped in the shining headlights of this virus, will chose cowardice and condemn pubs to a soulless oblivion and those of us for whom that pub was a big part of our social engagement to a life stood looking out the kitchen window wondering what to do.

I miss the pub. And will miss it more when it's closed for good.

And, from The Bar Biographer, You’re on your own:
Davy has been at his bedroom window most of the day for the last eight weeks. He goes out for a walk sometimes but can’t be bothered others; there’s nothing happening, nowhere open. Of course. But still he stands there, looking out from his second-floor tenement flat.

The main reason is maybe because he can see both the Alexandra Bar and The Crown Creighton from there. His real favourite, The Duke Bar, is just out of sight but two out of three isn’t bad. In normal times, he pops in to one or more of those bars most days. Just a couple, mind, he’s not a heavy drinker. He goes for the chat, maybe some dominoes. Not too many folk frequent both the Alexandra and the Creighton but Davy is a non-denominational socialiser; for him, the thing is to get out and about, for its own sake...

...No, the prognosis for the bar, club, hotel trade is not at all good (I claim the prize for the understatement of the decade) and pub lovers – whether punters or licensees – are on their own. Don’t expect any help from politicians, Twitter’s circuits of self-congratulation, the Edinburgh-based lobbyists, and most academics. The only way they will bend is under sustained pressure.

My prediction – and I fervently hope to be wrong - is that, as bars across Europe gradually open their doors again, those in Scotland will be at least 3-4 months behind, and probably the last in Europe to reopen. And with restricted trading likely to continue for a while after that, a reasonable estimate is that more than half of Glasgow and Scottish licensed premises will be gone for good by the end of 2021.

Pessimistic maybe, but that is where the present evidence points. Who knows how long Davy will be standing at his window?


  1. Professor Pie-Tin18 May 2020 at 10:39

    News from Ireland - you're breaking the law but we don't know which one yet.

  2. I do find that going for a walk or a cycle ride seems unsatisfactory if you stop for a pint along the way or at the end.

    But one good thing that might come out of the mess is that pubs have to start offering waiter service rater than expecting their more cautions clients to indulge in a maul at the bar for the privileged of buying beer.

    1. No!!! I loathe waiter service in pubs! Imagine trying to catch the waiter's eye at last orders! Waiter service is for restaurants, in pubs you go to the bar.

    2. @dcbwhaley - but surely it's an inherent feature of many pub visits that they also involve a walk. And a lot of visitors to the Peak District would consider that the two go hand-in-hand.

      @Unknown - it would work better with a prepaid app such as Wetherspoon's. But poor waiter service in restaurants is as big a problem in this country as poor bar service.

  3. Professor Pie-Tin18 May 2020 at 14:18

    Ah yes, beer bloggers.
    Here's Melissa Cole today delighted that Boris is bailing her out in her time of need although unable to thank or indeed mention either the Tories or Boris by name.
    And it's easy to see why.

    Welcome to woke hypocrisy at its finest.

    1. The taxpayer is bailing her out, Prof, not Johnson.

    2. Why are so many beer writers Marxists and lefties? Cole, Brown, Protz come to mind, also Ed from Ed's Beer Site.

    3. The taxpayer is funding it all, but Johnson (as the representative of government) is the agent of making the payments.

  4. Professor Pie-Tin19 May 2020 at 09:50

    Cole is a lefty with principles.
    She informed Twitter that because she has a wealthy accountant husband she waited a day or two to give the less fortunate a chance to apply for the free Tory cash.
    Jezza will be proud of her ...

  5. Professor Pie-Tin19 May 2020 at 12:02

    Then there's Rabid Bar Fly from the Rake.
    " Easiest claim I've ever made "
    Four hours later he writes " #fuckthetories "

    Good old Glynn.

  6. Also that Pilot Brewery, they seem to be more far left activists than brewers.

    1. And Chorlton Brewing said they thought it was a pity someone hadn't thrown a brick at Nigel Farage rather than a milkshake.

    2. Professor Pie-Tin19 May 2020 at 15:08

      Now they've closed down in the UK and have yet to open in Belgium I wonder what they're doing for money in the meantime.
      Have they taken the Boris shilling ?

  7. Poor Davy,if he lived in a sensibly run country rather than Scotland arrangements would already be underway to reopen his favourite bars. There is no reason why people cannot take responsibility for their own actions and make their own assessment regarding the risks of visiting the pub.The pub industry will emerge stronger but in a different form from its present crisis,throughout Britain small independent bars are offering off sales and deliveries whilst pubco pubs remain shut post crisis many pubco pubs may not reopen but there will be many opportunities for others.

    1. Although I suspect there won't be a correlation between risk level and willingness to go to the pub. Many older folk may take the attitude of YOLO, while it seems to be the younger ones who are at minimal risk who are most fearful.

    2. In Scotland there is a sizeable minority who are delighted that the pubs are shut and would like them to remain so. The Presbyterian tradition still lingers. Many also have the "it's for our own good" mentality which is not so common South of the border.


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