Tag Archives: drinking

Super Saturday?

On Saturday 4 July, (the first day on which pubs in England reopened), the so-called “Super Saturday”, I went to my favourite local pub with friends. For anyone who isn’t aware, the pubs (along with restaurants and many other venues) closed in March, due to an order from the government, the instructions being designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On entering the pub, my friend and I had our temperatures taken by a young woman. Then, our temperatures being normal, we sanitised our hands with sanitiser. Following this “new normal”, my friend and I where conducted to a table, from where we ordered our drinks.

Anyone familiar with the British pub may well have visions of people standing or sitting around the bar, chatting, reading newspapers or swearing at the television when their favourite team misses a chance to score a goal! Sadly, under “the new normal”, this has been replaced by the rule that customers may not congregate at the bar, and must be served at a table which, following their departure will be sanitised by pub staff.

Whilst it was good to catch up with friends (another friend and his wife joined us later), I missed the mingling which is part and parcel of the traditional English pub. There was no more going up to the bar and exchanging banter with regulars, nor could one (officially at least) invite someone who was not part of the original party to join your table.

The young woman serving us (the same lady who had taken our temperatures) was wearing a mask. Whilst I can, of course understand her reasons for doing so (to protect against the possibility of contracting or passing on the virus), I couldn’t help thinking how she would cope on a baking hot summer’s day!

If you read the reports of “Super Saturday” you will, no doubt come across stories of “drunks not socially distancing”. All I can say is that neither my friends or I witnessed any such behaviour. Indeed the pub was rather quiet, perhaps owing to the fear of contracting the virus which does (I know through conversations with people) pray on the minds of some.

Whilst I was delighted to enjoy a few pints in the company of friends, I felt a sense of sadness at the sanitised atmosphere. We have, I fear lost something, I hope not permanently. We have lost the natural vibrancy of the traditional British watering hole. We have lost the stopping to chat to old acquaintences at the bar as we order our drinks. We have lost the ability (at least officially) to invite strangers to join us for a drink at our table. All this may be necessary, but it is still a loss and there is no getting away from that fact.

Kevin

The English Pub

I have stood
In many an English pub
Drinking beer
Both indifferent, and sometimes good.
Its queer
How people with nothing in common mingle
And those who go in single
A couple become
(At least until the rise of sun
On the morrow
When sorrow
May come,
Or they say
“That was fun”
And go their way
Or perhaps they are forever
Drawn together
As birds of a feather,
(Well, at least
Until eternal peace
Breaks their heart apart).

I have stood
In many an English pub
And sometimes caused a fuss
When I did discuss
Political matter.
No friendship did I shatter
Though I have heard
Many a foolish word
And spoken more than one or two
Its true.

I have shared a glass
With a pretty lass
At the bar
And wondered how far
(Or near we all are
To paradise
Or vice),
And I have said “good night”
And thought on delight
That never was
Because she
Had no interest in me,
Or maybe
I missed the cue to dance
And my chance
To go far
Beyond the bar . . .

I love
The solid wood
Of the traditional pub
And the way in which people, for the most part
Get along. For at its best the pubs at the heart
Of the community.
A unity
In diversity, where you see
People of every class
Raise a glass,
And as they drink
Think, “this is our pub
For bad or good
And we will keep it this way. Things will change
But the pub will remain
For it is more
Than you or me.
It is tradition, tolerance and diversity.

Skid Row

When, before 9 am
I hear the clink
Of bottles, I think
On the fine line
Between those who,
Like me
Drink coffee
Or Tea.
And enjoy a pint or 2
(In the afternoon or evening),
And men
Who, before 9 am
Bottles chink
On the quiet street
That does go
Down to Skid Row.

My visit to the doctors

I visited my doctor yesterday. He began with a series of questions regarding my lifestyle:

“Do you smoke?” he asked.
“No” I replied truthfully.

“Do you drink?” he said.
“Yes, I’ll have a large red wine, please” I replied.

There Was A Young Man From My Local

There was a young man from my local
Who maintained that he was wholly teetotal.
Each day he would sup,
From his tea cup
And he wabbled as he left my local …

(the term “local” signifies a public house or pub in the UK.
A person who is teetotal never drinks alcohol.
The character in the above limerick is, of course wholly ficticious in nature).

The Robots Are Coming

A speech by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England in which he predicts that over time upto 15 million jobs are at risk of automation in the UK. The occupations at risk include that of estate agent, call centre operative and customer service roles.
The Industrial Revolution saw the replacement of the artisan craftsman by the cotton mill but, ultimately the jobs market adjusted to the change and mass unemployment (as invisioned by Carney in the present instance) did not result. However the past is not, of course an infallible guide to the future although we can learn much from history.
One job which does, in my view remain safe is that of barmaid and barman. Particularly in locals (pubs which serve a group of “regulars”, for they are much more than places to which people repair in order to drink. There is, in a good local a tremendous rapre between the bar staff and the “regulars” with friendships and, on occasions relationships being forged across the bar. While in vast supermarket-like pubs (which usually serve an ever changing customer base) I can envisage vending machines playing a much greater role and perhaps replacing bar staff (other than a manager or 2) completely, I cant see this happening in all pubs. Indeed its perfectly possible that having “real” staff behind the bar will be a selling point for those pubs who retain them.
For the article please visit, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/mark-carney-speech-robots_uk_584675e1e4b07ac724498813.

Saloon Bar

You wow them in the saloon bar

Surely my friend you will go far.

You link

with those who drink

and refuse to think.

The pub goers applaud.

There can be no discord,

We must be protected from the unwashed horde.

A few wise old owls dissent

It’s a big tent

There must be room for dissent.

But the customers hear what they want to hear.

The regulars cheer

Never fear

Your friends are here.

 

The Last Hurrah

Thronging the doorway

“Excuse me please”. The throng parts letting me through. Sometimes a kind soul holds open the door allowing me to enter.

In all weathers the die hards stand puffing away. In summer the scent of cigarettes wafts through the pub’s open door bringing with it memories of yester year, a time when walls turned yellow with nicotine and I, a non smoker returned home, my clothes smelling of smoke, cursing the filthy weed.

The rain drives the hardy band ever closer to the pub’s sheltering doorway

“Excuse me, excuse me” I say attempting to retain my fixed smile as I try to enter or leave.

Some said the British would never stand for it, this intrusion into the rights of the individual to light up in public. But what about the liberty of the non smoker not to have his lungs clogged with poison? The latter argument won the day.

and so you stand. Not quite the last hurrah but something noble in your tenacity not to give up despite the pouring rain.

I sit enjoying a pint, thinking of the bedraggled smokers outside.