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Cheers - AE

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The latest pit stop on the road of neo-puritanism

When I was a kid, and I'm not getting all Monty Python Yorkshireman here, we used to go to pubs as a family now and then. There was one about a ten minute walk up the road which had a nice beer garden with a few swings in it, a largish lounge bar and a smaller saloon bar and a sign on the door which said words to the effect of no kids. In fact there was a little flexibility there because kids were allowed through the lounge bar to go to the toilets and the landlord knew that his license said that children under a certain age (can't remember exactly what it was) were allowed inside providing they were with a parent and a certain distance away from the actual bar itself (can't remember how far either), which meant that families could use the tables in the lounge bar that were by the windows but the saloon bar was off limits because it simply wasn't large enough to keep the kids far enough away.* And all this worked: Dad got a beer or three, Mum got a white wine or three, we got soft drinks full of additives which didn't send us into a hyperactive destruction binge and crisps full of salt which unaccountably failed to kill us. We didn't know they were supposed to back then.

So that's how pubs worked, and I repeat, this did work. Pubs were basically there to sell and serve intoxicants and various allowances, practical and legal, were made so that some could accommodate families with younger children. So when I read that in the name of healthism and of course thinking about the chiiiiildren this has been turned upon its head my flabber is well and truly ghasted.
... when friends Ali Ineson and Emma Rutherford popped into a central London pub to buy their children soft drinks and themselves an alcoholic drink, they were shocked to find their order refused.
Although happy to sell the soft drinks, the barman would not allow them to have a white wine spritzer and a vodka and Coke because it would be "inappropriate" for them to drink in front of their children.
Seriously, what the hell was the barman thinking? That one thing would lead to another and they'd start feeding the kids grog under the table? Because there's a solution if that happens - you tell them to drink up and leave. Was he thinking that the women were alkies and seeing them getting plastered would encourage the kids to drink too? Because if so he'd have to have been ignoring the high probability that such children would have seen one or both parents passed out in front of the TV with an empty bottle of Vino Collapso on the coffee table more than once before, and a lunchtime spritzer in the pub isn't going to make any difference to them.

Or was he thinking that they were his kids? Not literally his kids, but kind of his in that he shared some kind of collective responsibility for them and their upbringing. Worryingly, not to mention creepily, it sounds like it.
Mrs Ineson [...] said: "I was totally shocked and asked the barman to reiterate.
"He said he wasn't going to serve us because it would not be 'appropriate'."
Back in those not far off days I mentioned earlier it would not be 'appropriate' for a barman or landlord to concern himself with what's appropriate for other people's children if the parents are clearly perfectly sober and the kids seem healthy and normal. Certainly nobody thought to tell my parents not to drink in front of their kids, and for the record my brother is probably a low to average drinker, my sister drinks quite sparingly and I'm teetotal by choice. Getting all concerned for the kids is a bit premature when the adults haven't actually had a bloody drink yet, and since I've never heard of anyone ever being refused alcohol or being told by a publican not to drink it in front of their children, coupled with the fact that alcohol consumption in the UK has been falling for some years, I'd say that it is not and never has been a problem anyway. However, what is a problem is the ever increasing influence of the nanny state, its propaganda department, and their constant drip-drip-drip messages that any vice, no matter how socially acceptable and how harmless in moderation, is a dangerous and corrupting influence on impressionable minds.

The irony is that that line of thinking is a dangerous, corrupting influence, and sadly the impressionable minds are those of people who should be old enough to know better. The state is mother. The state is father. And if it's not possible to parent your kids directly it's as happy to have its brainwashed drones - supermarket staff who refuse to sell alcohol to adults, and now it seems bar staff as well - do it by proxy. If that doesn't bother you then you'll probably be okay with the Britannia pub in London, a short walk from HMS Belfast and the Monument, refusing you alcohol for the sake of any children you may have with you. Otherwise you know what to do.
The two friends, who run a Wimbledon-based company MRA PR, said they sat outside the pub and left as soon as their children had finished their drinks.
Or even go find another pub right away. One that remembers it's a pub and hasn't started thinking of itself as a creche.
The Britannia is run by Stonegate Pub Company, which operates 560 pubs and bars across the country, including the Yates's and Slug and Lettuce chains.
A company spokesman said: "Our policy is to welcome families into our pubs during the day, providing there are no licensing conditions preventing us from doing so.
"We are therefore now going to investigate this complaint and we would request that the responsible adults concerned contact us directly in order that we can ascertain the facts of the situation."
Investigate away, buddy, but claiming the pub refused to serve alcohol because of the presence of children seems a very strange thing to make up and, as the links to stories about supermarkets doing similar things show, isn't exactly unprecedented. And people wonder why the pub trade is dying. It was always about being somewhere to go where you could enjoy yourself, and the enjoyment is being sucked out of it. You can't smoke in the pub, you can't buy booze as cheaply as you can for home consumption, and now it seems that if you have a child with you it might not be possible to buy booze at all. So what's the point in going in at all? For a lecture on health and parenting? You can get that for free pre-paid by your taxes from many doctors or social workers, so why would any sane person want to pay through the nose to be on the receiving end from what was once part of something called the hospitality industry? If you had no choice perhaps, but Leg-iron and others who've given up on pubs in favour of Smoky-Drinky places show very clearly that there is a choice.

The pub trade is dying, and if it's about to switch sides to become the pawns of the Strength Through Joy neo-puritans I'd say it's better off dead.

* I may have some details wrong but it was more than twenty years ago and it's not like I was committing them to memory with the intention of blogging about it in later life.
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