Last week, I ran a Twitter poll on people’s attitudes to returning to the pub yesterday, the results of which are shown below. What is perhaps surprising, and disappointing, is that as many as 34%, from an audience presumably more favourably inclined towards pubs than the population at large, responded “Not for a long time”.
Now, I would strongly defend everyone’s right to act according to their own conscience. But everyone must recognise that action, or inaction, has consequences. If you’re someone who never much cared for pubs in the first place, you can’t really be criticised for staying away now. But if you have professed support for pubs in the past, and you are under 60 in reasonable general health, you really need to consider your position.
POLL: Will you be going to the pub on July 4th?— Curmudgeon (@oldmudgie) June 30, 2020
While the death toll from the pandemic has been appalling and tragic, it has overwhelmingly affected the very old and those already in poor health. It has killed just 300 healthy people in the UK under the age of 60. The fatality rate has been 1 in 9,000 for under-65s, but 1 in 250 for over -65s. Now, when the rate of infection is greatly reduced, you are probably more likely to be killed crossing the road on your way to the pub than from contracting Covid-19 when you get there. To still stay away on the grounds that it is not safe represents a warped and exaggerated perception of risk.
The next few months are going to be a very trying time for the pub trade, with reduced capacity from social distancing and a lack of general consumer confidence combining to limit customer numbers. The rush of enthusiasm on reopening day is unlikely to be maintained for very long. Pubs will need all the support they can get. By all means make your own decision, but don’t then complain six months down the line when many of the pubs you used to enjoy are no longer there. More than ever before, “use ‘em or lose ‘em” is a critical message.
Apart from the over-caution, I was taken aback by the wave of rancid snobbery directed on social media at people who had ventured out to the pub. Just look at some of the responses to this tweet from a Manchester Evening News reporter:
Incidentally, the pub in question was the Shiredale in North Manchester. And, while some people said it appeared grim and uninviting, to my eye it very much looks like a Proper Pub. These responses prompted several people to man the barricades in defence of pubgoers, even though it wasn’t something they personally cared for.
I’ve spoken to regulars Chris and Jimmy. Jimmy hasn’t gone to bed after his night shift tarmacking the roads. He had a shower and came straight here. He described the taste of his first Carling as being like an ‘angel p***ing on the tip of his tongue’ @MENnewsdesk #citybacktolife pic.twitter.com/sUAKwlstwt— Rebecca Day (@RebeccaDayMEN) July 4, 2020
Many so-called beer enthusiasts who may in the past have given lip service to supporting pubs seem to have gleefully joined in with both of these tendencies. They may well have found they quite enjoyed staying at home during lockdown enjoying supplies of draft craft beer takeouts from their local micro bar, absolved of any need to actually go out and visit any pubs and mix with the dreaded hoi polloi.
I don't like pubs or beer. Just as you won't like some things that I do.— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) July 4, 2020
But if was able to I'd be down the first pub I could find ordering a pint just to stick two fingers up to those sneering at people who are so thrilled to be able to have a pint. Or two. Or more.
Even worse than this were the snarky comments along the lines of “you won’t be saying that in two weeks’ time” which in effect is wishing illness and death on others.
Anyway, on a more pleasant note, the post title gives an excuse for another trip down memory lane with the Bangles. And Susanna Hoffs is five months older than me!