This trade just does not get any easier. As if supermarket pricing and the smoking ban weren't challenges enough, we now learn our leading policemen want every pub to throw out its glasses and switch to toughened plastic.
If anything's going to stop people going to the pub, it's the thought of having to drink from plastic vessels. The whole sensory experience of enjoying the feel of the glass in your hand, then sipping your drink of choice from it is one of life's pleasures. It ceases to become so in the pub as soon as the liquid is dispensed in plastic containers.
The idea is an abomination, yet it appeals greatly to police, who have told senior trade representatives "Customers will get used to it." This shows how out of touch with pub life the police must be these days. Yes, a broken glass can cause appalling damage to the face, can even kill. But these incidents can be reduced far more effectively by strong management. And to imagine that drinkers will just accept the removal of glasses and their substitution by plastic defies belief. Marie Antoinette's "Let them cake" remark springs to mind.
At a slightly lower level of stupidity, the European Union has decided to rid pint glasses of their 300-year-old Crown symbol, for no reason other than self-aggrandisement. Trade leaders have firmly rejected the idea. And we are fully behind them. A survey we carried out over the weekend shows that 80% of pub customers want to retain the crown, and the MA believes they have every right to. We will be taking their case to the highest levels in order to see this off. And we will do exactly the same if politicians listen to police voices and move to ban traditional glass pints.
The Pub is the Hub celebrated more than five years of success at a wonderful reception hosted by Prince Charles at Clarence House last week. HRH coined the phrase himself, and has been intimately involved with the organisation throughout its short but immensely impressive history.
Nearly 300 pubs have been transformed thanks to Pub is the Hub, under the superb stewardship of John Longden. They've taken on new functions such as running the post office or local shops and thanks to very hard work by their licensees, the locals still have a community around them. Well done to all these inspirational licensees - and the people in the trade who have helped them. Here's to the next five years of success at the hub of our entire nation.