I’m not given to reflection; the blog is first and foremost definitely a pictorial diary of a life
well spent travelling.
But I need to reflect on the first month since pubs returned, if only to look back and marvel in five years time.
Back on Friday the 3rd, the internet was a mix of pessimists predicting “carnage“ and “feeding frenzies” and swearing that pubs would be too restrictive to enjoy and they’d leave it till there was a vaccine.
As always, the optimists win.
1) No standing or drinking at the bar. Bye bye bar flies. How great is that ?
2) Pubgoers were very polite, keen to avoid breaking the rules amid a sense of collective responsibility to make it work and avoid a second lockdown (or death). At least that’s what Mrs RM said, and she’d be the first to point out the opposite.
3) Covid compliance rules are generally clearly set out and almost universally followed. If anything, the smaller wet-led pubs have enforced the rules harder, with temperature checks in Selby and Portsmouth.
Completion of the Track and Trace paperwork seemed rather optional in Spoons, but since I’ve learnt how to use QR codes it’s been easy to record my details on-line.
Specifically, I’ve seen none of the crowding on tables and moving of furniture that some commentators have highlighted.
4) Due to 2) and 3), and my own risk assessment, I’ve always felt safe in pubs. And if I didn’t feel safe, I’d have left.
5) Pubs in general looked spruced up, and the Spoons in particular have sparkled.
In quite basic pubs I’ve seen landlords scrubbing tables as if their lives depend on it between customers.
6) Pubs opened with tight beer ranges, seemingly either entirely national brands,
or entirely microbreweries.
It took a while to get some of our favourites back, but I can confirm the Bass tastes as good as ever.
I had great beer quality in the first week, better than I can ever remember, due to casks freshly delivered for the 4th, those tighter ranges and a decent turnover.
The freshness dropped off a bit, but I’ve only tipped one pint out of fifty in the plant pot.
7) There’s no such thing as popping in for a quick half, the forte of the pub ticker.
On one gastropub visit, which I had to book on-line, it took longer to explain the system for accessing the loo than to sink my half.
In fairness, I’ve only had to book to visit a pub thrice.
8) Most pubs outside large cities re-opened on or close to 4 July, but my lad tells me Manchester remained a ghost town as office workers stayed home.
9) Opening times have been a bit hit or miss, and many pubs still struggle to use their social media to tell people they’re open, with “pinned” hours being wrong.
Some pubs openings have been a bit “tentative“…
10) Which brings us to the elephant in the room. Viability.
Trade opened down a fair bit, particularly in the dining pubs that would have attracted the gentlefolk lunch crowd a year ago. Spoons were noticeably quieter too.
The current 50% off your food bill deal had our local Chef & Brewer car park full at lunchtime for the first time since Christmas, but that Treasury largesse won’t help your wet-led boozer.
As someone once said “Use it or lose it”.
Pub Curmudgeon’s piece is essential reading, though hopefully trade has seen an uptick since his assessment a fortnight in.