I’m at that age where I want certain things from a pub:
I’m disappointed if people suggest finding a table rather than standing and I want the music loud enough so I have to shout.
Getting a round of drinks in is a strategic game where you have to work out how to stake your claim to a spot at the bar without it seeming like you have pushed in.
For me a sharing platter isn’t cheese, Serrano ham and figs drizzled with balsamic vinegar – but it is two bags of crisps split open and laid flat on a table (if we are sitting down) so everyone can pick at them.
And I want to be able to move on to another watering hole if the one I’m in isn’t busy enough.
But none of this is possible in the new normal where pubs reopened yesterday after months of being closed.
Now there are signs everywhere telling people to keep their distance and arrows on the floor showing the direction to travel in a one-way system.
Queuing at the bar has been replaced by a continental-style table service, perspex screens have been put up to try and offer some level of protection and the music, if there is any, is being kept low so people don’t have to shout.
Well, I say this but it is only what I have read in the press (aka on websites) and heard on the TV (aka on clips from TV but shown on Twitter).
The closest I got to a pub yesterday was when I walked past one while on my way to the supermarket (the one may become my local but it’s too early to say because yesterday was the first day it has been open since I moved here).
I had wanted to go to one but I want my first time amidst the pandemic to be special.
By special I mean a great DJ outside, jugs of PIMMS with lots of fruit, interesting beers on tap and some very relaxing vibes.
I’m sure I will end up in a pub not too long into the future but the crucial reason I didn’t yesterday is because I didn’t get invited anywhere.
Although some were suggesting it was going to be as busy as New Year’s Eve (another day in the calendar where you spend too much on drink and end up disappointed) I only know a handful of people who partook in the so-called Super Saturday.
Most people I know have no plans to go back to a pub anytime soon – not because they don’t like them but because they don’t trust Boris Johnson’s Government to have got this decision right after they have made such a mess of everything else during the pandemic.
Call me cynical but it is almost as if they wanted to make a big thing of reopening the pubs on American Independence Day to try and show they are the party of the people (just like they wanted to bring football and horse racing back quickly).
It would be great if it was a sign the UK is getting back on its feet after being floored by coronavirus, but I fear it isn’t.
Instead it seems more likely that they were listening to requests from a pub chain owner and also because it is sunny(ish). (The pub chain owner is a Conservative Party donor but I’m sure that had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to reopen pubs.)
If they try and spin out the line that they reopened the pubs to help get the businesses back on track then don’t forget how they screwed it up in March.
Back then Boris Johnson advised people not to go to pubs but didn’t tell them to close so they lost out because they were unable to claim on their insurance.
Away from the politics there is also the fact that people have got used to drinking at home – just like people have realised they can make a roast at home, don’t need to pay someone to paint their nails and three months is more than enough time to teach yourself how to make a nice coffee.
It will surely be a painful hit to the bank balance when people are back in the boozers and a round of drinks comes in at thirty quid, compared to the change from a tenner you would get if you bought them at the supermarket.
It is possible to make a roast at home
And while the UK is recovering from coronavirus it will be a weird experience to just go to the pub.
I live in London so because there is much more to do than go to a bar I rarely do ‘just’ it.
For me the pub is a place to go to see a band, to take part in a quiz, to go before the movies or after a play.
It’s a place to see comedy or to figure out the meaning of an art exhibition I have just seen or to sadly watch Watford get destroyed in the FA Cup.
Sitting with friends while supping pints in a pub will take as much getting used to as video calls did back in April or March.
Stay safe for another week (and cheers)!