Anybody out there prefer a quality drinking pub to the raft of food pubs ? After going in a few pubs in a matter of days – a simple thing struck me. Quietness….. and I immediately had a pang of retro sorrow. I realise one’s memory tends to remember what it wants – but in my early days of working in and out of pubs I don’t recall such quiet. Yes – when there was no one in the pub it was quiet. (maybe the jukebox was playing music) but the strange thing in many modern day pubs is even when there are a good few punters present they are all in whispered conversations , like a library ….is it because they were all there for the eating ?
There are good eating pubs – and there are pubs that are trying to be eating pubs. But when I go to a pub I don’t really want to hear chomp chomp chomp of munching on a tepid lasagne and the clicking of slightly dirty fighting irons. I want to hear laughter – appraisal of the latest soap story – disagreements about whether it was offside or not or the benefits of a state school education. This is more rare in a food pub – people are to busy moving starch around a plate & then sup up the glass of water and off. If the lunch is with working people a fast getaway is necessary in case someone is tempted to have an alcoholic drink ! Its also hard not to notice the average age in these eateries at lunchtime is over 70 yrs. I am confident the beneficiaries of the golden age of the pension payment won’t be around when I come to retire and who will use the pubs at lunchtime then ?
How life has changed – my past life came flooding back to me – in the 80’s but everybody went to the pub at midday – or at least on Fridays they did. Did the work suffer ? Were the staff more miserable ? The best food on display was a cheese /& onion or ham roll – if you were lucky you could get a warm Ginsters pie. The food was inconsequential – it was beer soak up. I’m not contradicting Fiona Stapley of the Good Food Guide – there were some terribly dirty, badly run 80s pubs – and in 2013 that can’t be sustained. Places need to be clean – warm – and welcoming, but I didn’t see anything welcoming in my recent visits. It was generic, missing of an atmosphere and the landlord was absent.
“What about the kids pubs” I hear you shout – yes of course – there many child friendly pubs and they are the antithesis of the quiet pub. Screaming – crying – running around. More like a generic wedding party than my memory’s “real” pub.
I am not advocating the rejection of these types of establishment, I just long for an Adult pub – catering for the entertainment of adults, catering for drinkers, promoting fun, letting your hair down, relieving the days stress. You don’t need to binge i.e. save up the drinking for one enormous “session”. Just have a simple unwinding beer, a chillout, a mellow moment. I feel this is where pubs have changed. So for me lets support the drinking pubs a little more. If figures are to be believed (http://itv.co/1bxXybw ) theres 26 pubs closing each week and new openings are more of the eatery. CAMRA have advocated every beer goer should drink just one pint extra per month to slow this decline. If you want to keep pubs pubs see how you can help (Protecting the pub, http://www.camra.org.uk/page.php?id=127 )
I fear this pub of my early working life, that I cherish is now frowned upon – even if the smoking ban was repealed and drink driving was avoided – people think we have moved on. Maybe I haven’t.
So reminisces over, I’ll go back to my tablet book and Nespresso coffee. (even as I write the libraries are also struggling to keep open – though not 26 a week)