Elegy Written in an English … pub
Blimey, it’s only Tuesday.
As you’ve probably gathered, my 170 pub crawl has been put on hold. Or has it? The Government’s advice on pubs has been pretty slipshod. Discourage visiting, but not close down? What does that mean? Hopefully tonight’s press conference - Rishi Sunak’s bit rather than Boris – might give some hope and financial support to the pub industry and its supply chain. It still doesn’t answer the question whether we should or shouldn’t.
My pub crawl definitely has been put on hold. However, I confess I went to the pub tonight. It was quiet, which by chance meant we could keep our two-metre distance between us as we circled the bar. There was a strange atmosphere. Did I feel guilty being there? Possibly. Did I feel I needed to be there? Definitely yes.
The mood was sombre, like a wake where the deceased had drunk in our rounds but had not left a tab behind the bar. A bit of gallows humour was thrown in to lighten the mood. We laughed, but not deeply. The elephant in the room was rearing its ugly head at every juncture, and for good measure, its massive trunk and fucking huge ears. Not knowing. That was it. Not the what, the when, the who, or even the why. Not knowing. Not just about us, our loved ones, but also our pubs. Which could be one and the same.
I went shopping today to buy some beer. I never usually drink beer at home unless somebody has kindly bought me a special bottle from their travels. These are always welcome, and still are! But my general rule is to drink beer in the pub. But that luxury which I have known for my 31 legal dinking years on this planet are under serious threat. By the time you read this, we could all be confined to barracks. Everybody who left the pub got a handshake – sorry, an elbow bump – as if this were it, the last time we could do this for an undefined amount of time. Or perhaps ever.
The common consensus was that we had to ensure this pub survives. Everyone is important, but most important for us was the pub we were drinking in. Thankfully landlord Tom shared our concerns, and was receptive – at least prior to sensible analysis - to some of our suggestions. Whatever he does, he will receive massive support. The pub has to survive. Of that we were all adamant.
It’s not just pubs. There are suppliers, commonly known in today’s jargon as the “supply chain”. This includes breweries, who all face a very uncertain future. Hence I went shopping today at Tap Social. I will try to buy form others too in the coming days before the inevitable pub shutdown that could last week, months.
If you can, take time to check out what our local pubs and brewers are doing to keep you in beer, and to keep their businesses viable. I am impressed with Rishi Sunak in hi short time as chancellor, and I hope what he and the government can provide will safeguard businesses, jobs and livelihoods. But we have to do our bit too.
Please support these businesses. Many are now offering deliveries. Use them. Place orders. If you have to stockpile anything, leave the Andrex and fusilli to the panicking masses and stockpile beer instead. When we get through this, and our pubs and breweries get through it with us, you’ll be glad you did.
As soon as I’m able, the pub crawl will resume. With added frequency, enthusiasm and optimism. I just hope there are still 172 places to visit. Stay safe everybody.
Apologies, an elegy is meant to be a poem. But I couldn’t find anything to rhyme with thoroughly pissed off.