Phones kill conversation say micropub owners

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Social hub: phone-bans promote conversation and interaction (Getty/ Riou)
Social hub: phone-bans promote conversation and interaction (Getty/ Riou)

Related tags Technology Freehouse Kent Bristol Social responsibility

UK micropub owners said that phones “kill” conversation and show a “lack of respect”, while pub phone-bans help promote social interaction after lockdown-induced isolation.

The landlord of micropub The Butchers Arms, Martyn Hillier, said: “When I opened the first micropub in the world in 2005, one of the things I disliked was listening to a half a conversation about someone's cooking, or dog, or what they’re having for tea tonight. I've got no interest at all.

“So I thought, right, we'll have a no-mobile sign put up.”

Hillier has nailed six mobile phones to the walls of the world’s first micropub in Kent. He said this “gives people a killer clue that we don't like them.”

He added: “My pub is only 14ft by 12ft, and if you get one person in there, invariably they start raising their voice when they're talking into their mobile device.

“It kills the conversation in the pub, so we'll start shouting ‘rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb’, and it sounds like a conversation, which gets pretty loud.”

Rude behaviour

According to Hillier, making a phone call in a pub is “rude”: “I just don’t understand it,” he said.

He continued: “[…] Conversation on the phone is from one person to another, and if you're broadcasting it to the rest of the pub, it's ridiculous.

“[…] If you want to make a call, go outside. It’s quite simple.”

Hillier said that the phone-ban was “very easy to maintain”, and “everyone loves it.”

He said: “We do accept modern things, but we just talk to each other in our pub, and it's quite good fun.”

Mark Farrell, the owner of Bristol micropub Chums, said: “If you're in conversation with somebody, especially if it's a wife, husband or partner, it's quite rude that people use their mobile phones.

“[…] It shows a lack of respect to the people you're with.”

Back to basics

Farrell said that nowadays, people having conversations was more important than anything else. He said: “Due to the fact that we've had the pandemic, a lot of people have been left very much alone.

“Whereas now, the fact that people can actually sit down and have a conversation is quite good.”

A lot of people are fed up with technology and want to get back to basics, especially when out for an evening, said Farrell.

The owner said: “More and more we're getting a younger age group in. We were tending to have a sort of 40 plus age group, whereas, at the moment, we are tending to attract a lot of 20 plus, and a lot of the people that come in in that age group are saying, ‘wow, we can actually have a conversation in here.’

“[…] The idea of the micropub is to have a more of a social life, and leave your leave your work as home, or leave your work at your workplace, rather than bringing the work with you.

“[…] Long live the micropub.”

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