Marion Jones, who has been the licensee of the Joiners Arms in Caldewgate, Carlisle, since 1996, said she has enjoyed her time in the industry and lives and breathes pubs, but noted there’s more to worry about now compared to when she first started, and newcomers to the trade should make sure they are aware of these challenges before operating a pub.
Jones said: “There’s a lot of dangers out there with so many stabbings and things going on now, that didn’t happen when I first started, if you had a fight it was with fists now it’s a pool cue or a glass or knives.
“You’ve got to be aware all the time now, you shouldn’t have to be, but there are some really nasty people out there now so you’ve got to be aware, be alert, and think this could happen, you can’t be frightened of anybody.”
When Jones joined the trade 26 years ago, she undertook an intense residential course to arm themselves with all the theory to put into practice and she encouraged any budding licensee to do the same.
More than to the job than pouring pints
The dangers around modern nightlife culture is not the only thing Jones urged future licensees to consider, she said: “It's not like it is on the telly, it's hard work. You don’t just open the door at 12pm and pour beer, you’ve got lines to clean, cellars to do, orders to do, there’s so much going on.”
Covid has also created a multitude of problems for the hospitality sector and made dealing with difficult customers even more challenging.
“When everyone had to wear masks and social distance, these three came in, one went to the toilet and I said 'put your mask on please', he went back to the table and got his mask then I realised all three were sharing one mask. I opened the door and said 'get out'.
“I touched the girl on the arm and she said 'I’ve got Covid and now you’ve got it.' I grabbed some sanitiser, rubbed it all over my hands, through my hair, all over my body right down to my feet and said 'right have I still got it? You’re an idiot, get out and don’t come back'. My customers were clapping, but that’s just what you’ve got to put up with.”
Jones also noted she thinks younger people drink excessively these days so the duty of care needed goes further, to the point where she has driven customers home after a night of binge drinking.
Heart and soul
“There's a lot of pressure put on licensees at the moment. So many things have changed over the years and a lot of respects gone from the younger ones, I keep saying they don’t know how to spell it, never mind do it, you've got to learn to change with the times.”
Having worked behind the bar for 26 years, Jones said one of the best parts of the jobs is how customers become more like family and a lot of her customers have been regulars since she started.
“You see your customers every day, they are like family and you can have a game of cards and a laugh with them. I know when it’s their birthdays and I bake them cakes and stuff like that, it’s just nice.
“It’s a good way of life to be in if you’re prepared to do the work and put your heart and soul into it.”