I feel it is a true shame that we have seen a sharp decline nationally in public houses, 6 a day closing to be precise. If we look more locally we have seen that many of our pubs are gone possibly never to return and many are up for sale and you may not miss them but all of these pubs were once busy, filled people from all warps of life. Being in the trade I can tell you that most licensees in the trade are looking for a scapegoat and that scapegoat is the Pub Companies. Now I’m not going to go on and on but how a pub company works but basically they own the property, you sign an agreement that states how much rent you will pay and that you understand that all purchases of beer are to be done so through the pub company. Therefore you are tied to where you purchase beer from hence they charge what they want to the publican. However the licensee owns the lease, therefore the business can be run however the licensee chooses within the terms of the lease.
In a nutshell I don’t have a problem with my pub company but then I may be one of the lucky ones, I know a lot of licensees who pay phenomenal rent and are forced to charge huge prices for beer but if we look at the other end of the spectrum we have society and how it has changed over the decades...for the best?...You decide!
I call it the X-Factor effect, you can call it what you will. I remember growing up as a child during the late 80's early 90's, my Father was a Police Officer so naturally there was a police club and he would take my mum, my two brothers, my Nan and granddad and me at least once a week and the place was always busy, everyone knew everyone! We would have a game of darts, pool, beer mat flicking whatever but it was a place for police officers to go and take family and friends and it was always busy...great! Today it is derelict and open to anyone who wishes to go. What happened, where did everyone go?
It used to be quite sad to stay in on a Saturday night in front of the box, we used to have cabinets to lock away and hide our televisions when we weren't watching them. Now they take over not only our living room but every room in the house in fact the more room they take up and the bigger they are the better! Buy Sky, buy Virgin Media, buy a 52" Plasma screen TV, buy a Wii, buy an Xbox, watch strictly come dancing and X-factor, watch The Cube, watch Loose women, watch all you can fit into the day because it’s going to make your life better, that’s the message.
We wouldn't have dreamed of cancelling a Saturday night out with friends or family to watch reality TV back in the 90's but it is something I see more and more but why?
Staying in cheap, going out expensive right? WRONG!
We now spend over 40 hours a week entertaining ourselves at home costing us an average of over £5000 worth of technology plus what it costs to keep it all going, Sky TV, Broadband, TV licence etc.
Okay I’m not going to make any false claims, a night in is cheaper that a night out but we are pumping more and more of our hard earned salary into buying technology that we believe will make us better people. Being a friendly, decent, sociable person these days isn’t enough...have you got the latest phone, laptop, TV, Sky package, do you drive a nice car are you on twitter or Facebook? Well no actually but does it really matter, does it make us better people? One thing is for sure it does have a deciding factor on how you are judged by others. I’m not a poor man and I’m not ignorant to technology, in fact I love technology, but I drive a 10 year old Honda Civic and my phone is 3 years old and I’m forever being told why don’t you buy a nice new car or a nice new phone, WHY? Because it’s not important, granted people will judge me on these things, fair do’s but I use my phone to make calls and I use my car to drive around in they are not extensions of my personality, they do not determine who I am, I do that all by myself, love me or hate me.
I hold nothing against people who do love swimming in the pool of
possessions, it is nice to have nice things and after all that is what society dictates but hold a thought for the next time you sit in-front of the telly on a Saturday night watching X-Factor only to repeat it again on a Sunday night for the results! Okay you may be sitting with your friends or family but that’s not interaction, you may as well be in separate rooms. Cook a meal together, go out bowling or to the pub, meet up with people you know don’t become text on someone’s computer screen, social interaction is a very important part of life, it’s determines who we are as an individual and as a society. There’s nothing wrong with the technology around us but don’t be so willing to be its lap dog, be you; be yourself, not a status on Facebook. Okay the competition between the twins, Olly, Simon and all the other X-factor contestants is very hot but that is their life...what are you doing with yours, living it or watching others live there’s?
Back to pubs...they have been our heritage for centuries (since around 900AD!) they are a place to converse, enjoy a drink, catch up entertain, eat, sing, dance. They are there for families, old people, young people, middle aged people, fat people, thin people, short people, tall people, rich people, poor people...you get the point. It is something that has been given to us as a Brit that no other country can replicate quite the same and we are letting them go, slipping through our fingers because we are too busy clutching to our blackberries to realise, and the next time you look up from your text message they could all be gone and that will be another part of our society lost.
So please don’t pray for us publicans as we get pushed aside for the X-factor, support us, join us in our quest to turn Britain back into a society of one to one conversation and a good banter, a real laugh is much better than an LOL.
See you in the Pub! Steve Foster - The Fingerpost, Pelsall