Oh how I miss the pub..
I’ve lived and breathed pubs as long as i’ve ever known. From my earliest memories, to working in them from being 13 years old to still working in them now. Until lockdown I can never have gone more than 3 days without visiting a pub for work or pleasure in well over 30 years, but why am I missing the pub so much?
I have access to a keg machine, I have a cask set-up in my garage and a beer fridge with all my favourite beers so have I missed the beer? In truth I don’t think so, what I have is more to my taste than any of my local pubs. I can serve how and when I like and know I will always have something I will enjoy, its also cheaper than the pub so can it be the beer i’m missing? probably not.
I do love a good pub, a building doing what it was designed for and much prefer it to cavernous food chain rooms, brewery taps or converted shops. There is something much more satisfying sitting in a pub rather than on Ikea furniture, converted kegs or scaffolding tables. However at home I control the TV, the music, the heat, the light and there is never a large or rowdy group in your way. I don’t queue for the facilities and when I’ve had enough there is no taxi, train or bus ride home, so no I don’t think it’s the building.
The people then, it must be the people?
I’m not the most social of folks as people who know me will testify, as someone who has worked in pubs since I was 13 I have got used to socialising being work, patter and banter with the regulars a work skill, Tuesday & Wednesday as my weekend and January as my Christmas. As such I much prefer a pub on a Tuesday teatime to a Friday night and I am very comfortable on my own or with my wife enjoying a quiet pint rather than in a group. I’ve had enough time behind the bar being stuck with the bore, the know-it-all, the fantasist or the amateur pub trade expert so in pubs I just like to keep myself to myself (like at home!). So I’m not sure it’s the people.
So what can it be?
To me it seems the pub is so much more than the sum of its parts and people love pubs for a variety of reasons. Sure pubs are about the beer, the building, the people but they are much more than that. They hold a special place in peoples hearts for a variety of reason from a place to enjoy & celebrate life, a place to escape it all, a place for reflection or a place be social. I’m sure we all have our reasons as to why the pub is special and why we are want them to survive.
If I knew exactly what it is about the allure of pubs and the feelings they create, not only in myself, but in the many folks I’d bottle it, sell it and be a millionaire but I can’t just put my finger on it specifically, it’s like atmosphere, you can tell it’s there or when it’s not but it’s different for everyone and is many different things.
A friend of mine once said to me about pubs ‘Can you imagine taking the idea of a pub to Dragon’s Den? You’d get laughed out of the show’ and he was right. “Yes Peter you have heard that correct, I’m going to maintain, heat, light and staff a building all day every day even when there are only a few customers in, sell stuff at a much higher price than the supermarkets and people have to come to us and share a space with total strangers which is less comfortable than their own home” It shouldn’t work….
But it has, it does and I’m missing it greatly and that’s why, much like many other folk, I will be champing at the bit come April 12th to go stand outside in my locals (probably cold) car park for a pint of beer in (outside) a pub and to hold that pint up and celebrate the great British pub once again.
Long live the pub.