Oldham and booze – the PR backwash continues

August 12, 2009 at 20:21 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

The ripples of spin from Monday night’s camera festin Oldham continue to slosh across the country.

Everyone is getting in on the act, from Newquay county council who are sniffing round the arse of a quick PR win to the Christans. I mean surely Jesus has more important things to do, like proving he exists for a start?

As part of the pub trade’s fightback, Paul Smith contributes a blog on happy hoursto the Publican, including the sad news that his contribution to Panorama ended up on the cutting room floor. No, I dont fancy him, it was more that the programme could have done with a bit of balance.

However, although Paul makes some interesting points, his defensive tone is a sign of how much the pub trade has been stung by this controversy – basically his line is yes, but no, but yes, we came up with something better sir! Shame he doesn’t stick the knife in on the bigger issues – the fact that trouble will be forced further out of town, supermarkets will suck up the cheap drinkers and that the city is ignoring the real social problems that are producing the violent lunatics who fight their way up York Street.

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18% beer – still better for you than Esther Ranzten

August 1, 2009 at 19:41 (News commentary) (, , , , )

I’m recovering from a night on the toilet duck so what I might be about to write could in fact be bollocks. It certainly sounds like bollocks – Esther Ranzten is apparently going to run for Parliament.

I don’t know when this country started to go wrong – pretty sure it was around the time Ant and Dec were let out of the idiot factory – but this news really does take the kebab stick. Have we really sunk to the stage where people who built a career around sticking cats on television that could fart to the tune of “she’ll be coming round the mountain” are considered serious material for the mother of all Parliaments?

Take her numb skull interview on the Beeb where she says she sees it as an “adventure”. Yes, because that’s what I want from my Parliamentarian. I want them to be approaching the job as if it’s a day out at Butlins rather than sorting out why my street is knee deep in dogshit.

All this madness has made me amenable to the brain smashing qualities of a new beer launched this week by a couple of plucky lads up in Scotland – the Tokyo. No idea why it’s been given such an unimaginative title (please God tell me they’re not trying to be trendy), but it caused quite a stir because of its alcohol content, a cool 18%. Predictably this spurred some sustained banshee wailing from sections of the health professional lobby and that obviously teetotal section of society, journalists.

No one it seems bought the lad’s explanation that the beer would reduce binge drinking, instead reasoning the complete opposite. And to be fair whoever does the brewery’s PR needs to be taken outside and given a moderate beating because it was a terrible bit of spiel that was bound to get castrated with a meat clever as soon as it hit the media bubble (assuming it wasn’t a cunning rouse to get any form of publicity, even of the bad variety – in which case it worked). 

However, it has to be said that there is a bit of hypocritical mincing going on here from the media and the general wailing majority.

For a start I always object to getting moral lectures about my health from journalists who are the biggest group of piss heads and coke snorters on the face of the planet. There are, as usual, a few facts dumped from the picture by most, like how the beer is only on a small run and avaliable from the brewery itself, Brewdog.

But my main beef is what is exactly the difference between this kind of beverage and the cascade of brain rot that sits behind most bartenders in every pub, club and cheesed up bar in this country? You go into any late night establishment around 1am and you will find a crèche full of chaved up muppets chucking all kinds of pure – probably flaming – concoctions down their throats. Just because it comes in a small glass doesn’t mean it isn’t potent – and that goes for supposedly more refined “drams” or “toddies” that send a good proportion of the middle age demography to sleep each night.  

This new beer is not irresponsible nor does it spell the end of civilisation as we know it. Its a different, new invention from a small local brewery thats got a bit of nerve to produce something different. So Im off to order a couple of cases – who knows, three bottles in and I might even stop thinking that Rantzen is an unbareable tit.

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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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