Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: Down the Pub

I'm indebted to the Political Umpire for being the first to alert me to the campaign by various publicans to get Alistair Darling banned from pubs across the land. It's a good example of what the internet does well, allowing us to mock our leaders and let off steam about things we can't do all that much about; and it's pleasing to see that interest in the campaign has led to questions in the House and attracted the interest of the Washington Post (which quotes Jaroslav Hasek as a bonus).

Hasek: more likely to get statues erected in his honour than Darling. The Party of Gradual Progress within the Bounds of Law is also more fun than Labour.

However, were I a publican I doubt I would ban Darling: there is something so pathetic and hapless about the man; something that suggests that he'd be better off getting maudlinly sozzled at the bar while telling a sympathetic barman about how his tyrannical boss is ruining his life. (Quite in the fashion of a Smithers minus the gay crush, I would imagine).

Which is not say that the idiotic stunt of trying to appease the puritans while simultaneously trying to raise cash to weather a very nasty economic storm deserves nothing less than scorn. Old school pubs are suffering so many divergent threats – the rise of the gastropub which actually does not want any drinkers taking up valuable space which could be occupied someone willing to pay £17 for an authentic French dish which almost succeeds in making the most revolting left-over pig bits edible; rising commodity prices which ramp up the price of beer; the smoking ban; and stuff that happens – changing tastes, the fact that drinkers in rural areas either can't grasp the concept of using a taxi after a few drinks or that taxi drivers in rural areas haven't cottoned on to the fact that there are people who don't want to get done for drink-driving but who still want a few pints in their local.

In this atmosphere the loss of 1,409 pubs in the last year is no surprise; and Darling's little squeeze is about as welcome as one from your drunken, creepy uncle in the lift after a boozy family wedding.

Fortunately you can do something far more effective than joining a Facebook group. If you want there to be places where people can go to enjoy conversation, banter and company fuelled by good quality company, whether or not you like beer, whether or not you drink, you can still go to the pub; it's the best way to keep these vital resources open. Rather than laugh at Darling, go to places he will not and cannot. You'll find some good ones here. (Smokers are positively encouraged to go outside and blow smoke rings into the faces of any politicians or Daily Mail journalists they might encouter.)

NB: If you want to support this appeal by proxy, I'm more than happy for readers of this blog to buy me a drink.



Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Surely, as the host, you should do the buying...

T'would be unseemly otherwise and might expose you to accusations of bribery.


10:41 am  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

I can see the point of getting Darling sozzled so that the moron might talk sense for once in his life, but I think it is selfish in another sense: since no-one in his or her right mind would want to have a drink with him, one expects the pub for Darling to drink in to be 'someone else's'. In other words, I don't think you can say let's get Darling pissed, when you yourself would never agree to be in the same boozer as him at the same time. Better, I think, to insist he buys something from an offlicence (he can send a 'researcher' to buy it for him) and gets smashed in a room by himself which is about the only place he would be welcome.

On the other hand, he will probably go to one of the many subsidised restaurants within the Palace of Westminster (that's right, they slap taxes on us but I happen to know a seabass main at one of the House's restaurants costs a fiver - which wouldn't even get you one at Billingsgate). There he'd be in like minded company and would enjoy the benefit of taxes rather than have to pay them.

10:47 am  
Blogger bill said...

PU, your suggestion that Darling go down the offie immediately made me think of Norman Lamont, who was apparently seen buying a bottle of cheap champagne and 20 Rothamans in a seedy part of King's Cross. (Actually, all of King's Cross is seedy, but no matter). It's not a happy parallel is it. Next thing you know he'll start singing Edith Piaf songs in the bath.

Puss. Bribery only works if people are expecting favours in return. I'd prefer it that readers think of their liquid gifts to me as Bertie Ahern-style "dig outs".

That said, manners are important. So: free drinks for any readers who track me down whilst they are carrying a copy of the Good Soldier Svjek.

11:57 am  
Blogger dominic said...

Which currency do yer want the boys to give the fecking dig-outs in, though?

And do you cash cheques?

10:44 pm  

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