Much has been made of the ‘reopening’ of pub beer gardens from April.
Although I am sure this is a great thing for those who are blessed with great views and facilities, for many it offers little if anything.
The Government seems to believe ‘pent up demand’ is such that people are so desperate to pay a premium for draught pint they are happy to drink it on the street, out of a plastic cup, in the rain. I have yet to speak to a publican who is convinced that this is the case.
When the British weather swings it will be the publican who, once again, cannot win.
If they refuse to allow his customers to seek shelter from the rain, they will have been unreasonable.
If they allow them to shelter, then they will be fined when they have a pub full for a three-hour torrential storm.
The Government seems not to have learnt from 24-hour licensing that it cannot create a café culture at will.
‘We really are quite civilised’
But is okay, the redtops proclaim, the pubs are open fully from May. Only this is not true is it?
Even at this early ‘bare bones’ stage, long before the regulations that will be added, there is a critical detail. Missed by all who rush to proclaim freedom there is a definition hidden on page 37 (Step three – not before 17 May): “The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated”.
Yes, table service remains, and indeed there is no mention anywhere of removing it.
That’s right our old friend table service is still putting the hostility in hospitality. We are still not trusted to stand with a pint because, as the experts know, we are incapable of standing with an alcoholic beverage in hand without launching into mass displays of affection.
There is no science to support table service-only, no reasoning whatsoever.
The very venues the press display when speaking of ‘traditional British pubs’ are largely unviable with mandatory table service. The ability for one to remain vertical used to be one of the primary demonstrations of sobriety in order to obtain service now it is borderline criminal.
Like some tilt switch the minute a customer lifts his glass to his standing person madness ensues. Suddenly he leaps person to person like a beer-crazed baboon on Valentine's, hugging strangers, kissing and, of course, spreading Covid.
I respect the scientific advisors but can somebody please tell them that their university memories are not an accurate reflection of the pub population as a whole, we really are quite civilised.
Please, as a trade, lets do all we can to resist and defeat the lunacy that is mandated table service.