Monday, 25 July 2011

Indian Summer

I’m a non-smoker, in case you hadn’t noticed. It doesn’t, in an immediate way, bother me that there is no smoking in pubs any more. However, I may well observe that there are fewer customers than there were before, or a more limited range. Or that the “crack” in the pub is much diminished. I have also observed that plenty of pubs have closed, although so far only a handful that I have cherished. I am also well aware of the ever-growing tide of anti-alcohol opinion that is sweeping over the pub trade.

I’ve had some great experiences in pubs over the past few years. One of the best was the Black Horse in Clapton-in-Gordano last year. That really was everything a good pub should be.

But, given the current climate, I often feel that a good visit to the pub is like an Indian Summer, a glorious day of autumn sunshine, but one of the last before the dead pall of winter comes in. Sometimes when I visit a pub, I wonder whether it will be the last time I ever have the chance go in there. (And not because I might pop my clogs in the near future!)

And I do seriously worry whether those welcome-to-allcomers pubs that strike a good balance between wet trade and food will still be around in ten years’ time. Even now, they’re a diminishing species. Let’s see...

4 comments:

  1. The foody pubs near me seem to have a thriving trade in pensioners. I guess that they offer the immediacy of pub grub but without the prices of restaurants.
    It a win win for the pub with huge profit margins, no trouble with drunks just the occasional wishbone stuck in the throat.
    However not content with this they seem to be moving onto a higher level now with booking tables and elaborate table settings. In fact they are restaurants although jokingly called pubs.
    If the truth was known I suspect hundreds of pubs have gone this way and our loss of decent bars is bigger than we know.

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  2. This is true. Few pubs in my small town have actually closed outright. I can probably think of two or so out of 11 or 12 that actually have outright closed.

    Most of the rest of them have either become far more interested in serving food in order to survive. In one case in two pubs I used to go to they rival each other with similar food at very similar prices, even offering suspiciously similar special offers (the result of a fall-out between one pub manager deciding to move to another pub).

    There is, as you say, considerably less craic in pubs than there used to be and many places have taken on a muted, depressive atmosphere.

    The beer selection in local pubs has generally become much less inspiring (both in ABV and in alcohol content - a mild or a distinctly hoppy beer is difficult to find) with not many people to talk to, most people generally being there for something to eat or just to sit there with their mates.

    Many pubs might seem full but often it is only because there is a function taking place or they have a very busy night for food. You can still go there, and still have a pint on the bar, but with no-one to talk to there's much less point. And at the pubs where it is full I would often feel uncomfortable there anyway since people don't generally know each other like they used to and is far more likely to be an atomised, lonely and occasionally threatening experience.

    So I stay at home.

    Most of the others are in the town centre and seem to offer a less-welcoming and less-friendly atmosphere than they used to, and are really more town-centre drinking dens full of yobs and yahoos rather than anywhere the traditional pubgoer around here would fancy visiting on a regular basis. Fights and occasionally stabbings break out here frequently at weekends.

    My dad's local used to be a really decent pub - then people started with the loud music in the other room and the yobbos moved in. I went in last year and the place has really quite bad real ale and it's shabby.

    The other place, in the town centre, is a club of a main political party. I used to visit there - they don't seem to be doing too badly, and the price of beer is slightly less than elsewhere, but I don't go in that often because I'm not a member.

    A price of a pint of regular real ale centres at around £2.60.

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  3. "Often when I visit a pub, I wonder whether it will be the last time I ever go in there."

    C'mon. With a cheerier outlook, you've got years in you yet! (-;

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  4. Sorry, feeling a bit down yesterday :-(

    But it does happen - you turn up at a pub you haven't visited for a while, and find it either closed and boarded or turned into an Indian restaurant.

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