The end of the British pub industry – pubs to blame?

July 30, 2009 at 21:43 (News commentary, Pub industry) (, , )

I was in my silk dressing gown this morning, enjoying a dawn pick me up of yager bomber and last night’s reheated smack*, when I surfed across the latest depressing figures from the BBPA about the state of the British pub industry.

 The facts are as hideous as a Bulgarian pin up. 52 pubs going under each week. 24,000 buxom barmaids and buck teethed bar men on the dole. A total of £1.53 million added to the tax bill from the accompanying fall out.

Awful stuff on face value, so upsetting I almost dropped my crack pipe. Rising above it all is the horrible spectre articulated by the news hub Ananova – which I initially thought was a pornstar’s website – in short, are we seeing the end of the great British pub? And if so what is the cause? The dirty smoking ban that got so many people in a lather on the Times typically hysterical comment thread?

I do despise that whining idiot Michael Winner – a man who looks like he’s been fashioned out of play doh by a blind child – but to borrow a line from his suicide inducing commercials, calm down dear.

The figures are not good and clearly there are problems. Liberal Conspiracy put together an interesting article on the monopoly system in the pub industry – damning stuff, though Ill be honest I don’t understand half of it. Must have been off school the day they did advanced marco-pub finance across sectoral market divides.  We are also in a recession and hence it was inevitable that there would be some blood on the brewery floor – the economic downturn is a dirty bitch that affects us all.

Ultimately, though, while all this is woe – including the government’s daft beer duties which require you to remortgage your house to buy a G&T – the fact is there are clear cultural changes at play which I’m afraid a lot of pubs only have themselves to blame for not following.

Im a man who likes the traditional pub – roaring fires, beardy ales, brass ornaments, wood panelling, barmaids with jugs you could park a bike in – that sort of thing. And I fervently despise the chain wank that infests our green and pleasant land, just have a gander at my recent review of the sloppy turd that is All Bar One near Tower Bridge.

But the fact is the chain’s are doing well because theyre catering for where the market is in the drinking world we now live in. They produce reasonable food in a family environment with lots of deals and an assortment of targeted tipples served by well trained staff.

Now I can sense that youve got an urge to cover your monitor in vomit after reading that last para. Truth be told I myself have just chucked a bit of sick over my crotch.

But, however unpleasant it is, the truth is that there are not enough people wanting to go to sawdust and spit pubs anymore. The Korean war has finished, we have colour TVs and we don’t live in 1954. People don’t on the whole do 18 hour shifts in steel factories and then want to go to a smoke filled cubby hole every night rather than face the sour faced trout in their one bedroom house who they’ve been spunking kids out of since they were 17. Britain has changed and to be honest Ive been in plenty of run down, poorly managed shit holes with no fucking invention or creativity that are stuck in a crap lined time warp.

When I look at the 52 pubs figure I see maybe three decent pubs going down the pan out of that number – the rest are probably boozers I wouldn’t leave my dog or my mother in law in.

That isn’t to say we all need to strip naked, paint our arseholes blue and run round the totem pole of Weatherspoons. There is a market for this shit and fair enough, but there is also clearly a market for pubs with character. Whether it’s the Ribs of Beef in Norwich or the Windsor Castle in Marble Arch – do it right and they will turn up, hand over coins and keep you going.

Im sure there are plenty of people who’ll disagree with this. Fair enough, but what’s your answer? Bring in restrictive tenancy laws against chain pubs that will be shot to pieces – quite rightly – by European competition laws? Subsidise the pub industry? And where is that money going to come from, the Pound fairy?

* This is a flippant comment and I am not in anyway endorsing the use of illegal drugs. I myself have only been spaced out once and that was down to misjudging a dose of cough medicine.



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Carling and minimum pricing – a load of balls?

July 27, 2009 at 22:32 (News commentary) (, , )

More condensed shite today from our friends at the Daily Nutcase.

They have taken time off from persecuting single mothers, asylum seekers and brown people to put together a piece of frolicking froth about Carling’s parent company Molson Coors wanting a minimum pricing regime for alcohol products in the UK.

Wonderful PR for the company – as it appears on face value that this selfless corporation with more money than God has decided to slice itself off from the supermarkets and other big breweries in a noble attempt to save the nation’s livers. There they are, shaking their head wistfully, muttering “it must be done”, before unzipping their trousers, dropping the under garments below and raising their butt cheeks in the air for a bit of firm regulation rogering. The message appears to be clear – Molson Coors is taking a big hard one for the team.

All very good … but unfortunately I smell the shit of bull. Leaving aside some of the dubious claims in the article (Molson Coors have been working with the BMA and the CMO have they? Methinks not sunshine…) the fact is that if this change was to be enacted it is extremely unlikely that Coors’ brands would be hit because if they were you could bet your left bollock Coors would be retracting their flies faster than you could say “profit warning ahoy”.

Although minimum pricing is a very vague proposal at the moment, the Government and the health professional lobby have made it clear they are targeting the tramp tipples – the low grade white lightening kind of affairs that really do sell at 50p a can and are the loss leaders for supermarkets and offies. They are not after the more medium to high end products or anything sold in pubs where breweries tend to snaffle up higher profit margins. After all politicans are not, contrary to popular opinion, morons, they know that there are votes in the aisles of Oddbins and Tescos.

A prime example is the 50p a unit proposal – all this would mean is that a pint would have to cost in your local the grand spanking total of at most  … erm, £2.50. Well, show me a collection of pubs that sells a pint for under £3 anywhere south of Doncaster and Ill show you a dancing gerbil that can give an elephant a blow job while doing the fandango.

Minimum pricing looks like it may well be headed this way as the political consensus is there and lets face it, its an easy policy to sell and implement. But will it stop 22 year old drinking themselves to death or indeed affect many people reading this page? Nope, it wont a single jot.

I have no problem with a serious debate about this issue – but can it please be conducted without the Mail giving an insincere brewery a hand shandy during the conversation?

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Tiger, Tiger – ye old shit hole

July 21, 2009 at 21:18 (Pub review) (, , )

To quote Shakespeare, life’s a bit fucking shite isn’t it?

That pearl is from Hamlet – somewhere at the back – and it goes to show that despite being dead for five hundred years he still scores a bull’s-eye when it comes to the odd musing about this incredible long coil we call existence.

I’m assuming from its soundness that part of old Will’s wisdom came from some merry hey-nonny-noony lurching around the dirty drinking holes of central London – as its a depressing experience not unlike putting one’s ball sac in a massive vice.

I was reminded of this recently when  I was once more dragged into Piccadilly’s own personal gate way to hell, Tiger Tiger. It was down to a friend of mine – let’s call him Mr Twat – and just like my previous follies (recounted on beerintheevening) it left me with a deep flame thrower type sense of violence towards the human race.

You see there are many things that puzzle me in this life: the meaning of existence, quantum physics, The Times Crossword, William Shatner’s hairpiece, why people would want to go anywhere near Katie Price’s fanny – the usual stuff really. But most perplexing of all is why on Gods green Earth is there always a queue outside this sub-gutter dive.

I suppose that as with all bafflement in life a little thought usual solves the problem, and when one breathes in the cheap and superficial tackiness of Crappy Crappy you can discern that cat’s arse scent that effortlessly attracts most of Zone 1s chavs, yobs, STD ridden tarts and lower earning suits who charmingly possess a second arsehole for a brain. But then having come up with this apparently satisfactory answer youre then faced with a procession of new perplexing queries;

How could anything that walks on two legs not be repelled by the stench of yobbery and the fake “classy” interior?

How the hell does this assortment of minimum wage and welfare pond life afford the unbelievable prices?

What exactly have the rude and arse faced bouncers got up their backsides?

And what is this about a dress code and a “couples” only policy?

Is this an excuse to turn anyone away who might have an IQ higher than that of a burberry hat?

Only by scraping the barrel pretty fecking hard can you find the sole redeeming and base feature that if you re a 20 something lad you may well enjoy Crappy Crappy`s parade of flesh, if of course you’re not too fussy about the level of crotch rotting bacteria in your immediate vicinity.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve had one too many ales and am now officially a fossil, but drinking and enjoying oneself in my book shouldn’t result in a desire to destroy absolutely fucking everything in the world.

To take another gem from Shakespeare – from Kind Lear I believe – its best to: close your sweet eyes, look to the heavens and pray for a massive outbreak of aggressive syphilis.

What a guy.

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