Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Brexit Arms

It’s taken as read amongst the beer writing fraternity that pubs, while they may be criticised for this or that, are unequivocally a Good Thing. However, out there in the wider world, this view isn’t necessarily shared by everyone, and over the years I’ve read a fair few articles by bien-pensant journalists arguing that pubs are, basically, well, a bit rubbish.

The latest effort is one by Marina O’Loughlin in London Eater magazine entitled Each to their Own, which was drawn to my attention by Boak & Bailey. This is a strangely schizophrenic piece in which, on the one hand, she accepts that pubs are just not for her, saying “Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with it, just that it doesn’t work for me” , but then going on to level a list of criticisms against them.

Top of the list is that they “don’t serve good wine”, which comes across as spectacularly missing the point. As I said on Twitter, that’s rather like complaining about the lack of guitar solos in opera – it’s just not what pubs are about. Indeed, it could be argued that many, if not most, pubs don’t even serve good beer!

She goes on to describe pubs, with a metropolitan sneer, as being “offputtingly Brexity”. Well, I suppose you can sort of see what she means – pubs have always been a bit anarchic, rumbustious and politically incorrect, and you can understand why fastidious people might turn their noses up at them. I’ve said before that pubs, at heart, are more Sun reader than Guardian reader kinds of places.

It would be perfectly reasonable to argue that the rose-tinted view of pubs as cheerful, welcoming centres of community life is all too often not matched by the reality. But, if you basically see no appeal in pubs, then wouldn’t it be better just to keep quiet rather than moaning that they aren’t something they never set out to be in the first place? After all, I don’t much care for gyms or dance music clubs, but I don’t complain that you can’t get a good pint of bitter in them, I just ignore them.

19 comments:

  1. The second best thing about brexit is we have got to know what the self-appointed elite think about the rest.

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    1. Quite right,politics aside this is a definite sneer,& like it or not both remain & Brexit camps are mainstream,with legitimate views. Perhaps might I suggest if the author of this piece spent a bit more time mingling in a pub meeting a broader variety of people, she might have a broader outlook. The pub is of course an excellent and unique meeting place for many sections of society.

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    2. The Blocked Dwarf24 July 2017 at 00:06

      "The second best thing about brexit is we have got to know what the self-appointed elite think about the rest."

      That might be the only good thing about BREXshite and no I'm not a remainer (for the record I was against the whole idea of the plebis-cide, that's not how we do things in this country). As to the piece, the word 'sneer' doesn't cover it. It' almost racist because we all know 'pubs' are shorthand for 'not our kind of people' , 'pub' means 'white men with pints'.

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    3. Oh indeed. They appear quiet horrified at the prospect of hearing the unreconstructed opinions of a boorish bald white middle aged tabloid reading manual worker with tattoos on his fourth pint of Carling. Though should we welcome it if Guardian types self bar themselves from public houses?

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  2. Traditional pubs might be Sun sort of places, but surely trendy craft beers bars (which you could never really call pubs) would be Grauniad reader locations (if the regulars ever read newsprint)?

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  3. Professor Pie-Tin22 July 2017 at 17:31

    Ms O'Loughlin is the restaurant critic for The Guardian weekend magazine.
    That is all you need to know about this supercilious cretin.

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  4. She's not that keen on Stockport town centre either, apart from the trendier end around the marketplace: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/26/where-the-light-gets-in-stockport-greater-manchester-restaurant-review-marin-oloughlin

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    1. If by "town centre" you mean around Mersey Square she does have a point. Even a fan of brutalist architecture would feel let down by the half hearted way the shopping mall implements it :-).


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    2. Yes, I remember that. I think I questioned at the time how many of the customers of the Boar's Head would be trooping across the Market Place for a £65 taster menu ;-)

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    3. And, on her Twitter bio, she describes herself as "Remoaner" - 'nuff said...

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  5. As someone who voted leave (and has strong views on Brexit that will clash with many of you), and would choose The Guardian over The Sun any time, I have to say, that's just bollocks. Pubs are no more "brexity" than anywhere else IMO, and some do serve decent wine, or so my better half tells me. It's quite simple; if you read her column, the writer likes over-fancy, up-themselves restaurants. It's pure snobbery, and she'd probably feel like she was slumming it in a gastropub, never mid a backstreet, working-class boozer.

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    1. Yes, it's just code for "pubs contain down-to-earth people who might occasionally swear and express blunt opinions".

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    2. Gah. I voted "remain". The rest of my comment isn't bollocks :-)

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    3. Pubs are a broad church. Most of us go in to drink good beer. Talking politics and religion is still the quickest way to get the dagger of being shunned stuck in you. Talking bollocks though is completely fine. Though I did talk about the three new elements added to the periodic table last week. As I said, it is a broad church.

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  6. Basically yes, if pubs don't appeal to you, don't go in them and don't complain about them.

    With regard to Marina O’Loughlin’s “Brexity” comment, I bumped into an old friend at the recent SIBA South East Beer Festival. Ever since I have known him (30+ years), he has held strong anti-EU views, and has supported UKIP virtually from the party’s inception.

    We touched very briefly on the vexed subject of Brexit, and his comment was the whole concept is becoming more and more like Hotel California. He may be right!

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  7. Nothing wrong with the Guardian

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    1. oh dear, there is everything wrong with the Guardian, die lügenpresse.

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    2. beg to differ old boy
      just about the most honest rag out there for my money

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  8. Wine? Wine's for wine bars. Good beer now that's why I go in to a pub. And if it is serving my beer, which the one in the next village is doing at present, then that's an even better reason to go in as I know how nice the beer is! OK, I'm a bit partisan. D'you know, I was told by a very experienced publican that my beer, HMS Glatton (God bless that ship), wouldn't sell cos it is too strong (ABV 7.4%). Well, it was mostly in pins but a few 9 gallon kegs. It has all sold. Gone. Now I have to make a new 500L. Funny old world.

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