Curmudgeon's "Opening Times" Column - January 2013
A pub that welcomes man’s best friend is likely to be welcoming to people too
THE LONG-RUNNING “Fred Basset” newspaper cartoon strip consists of a series of variations on about four underlying stories, one of which is when Fred’s master claims to be taking him out for a walk but – surprise, surprise – ends up calling in to the local pub for a pint. What could be more pleasant and sociable than popping in for a couple and a natter while your faithful hound sits patiently and recovers his breath for the homeward leg?
Yet, unaccountably, many pubs seem to have an objection to dogs, even the best-behaved ones, and put up officious notices saying “No Dogs Except Guide Dogs” – which, of course, they have to admit by law. Maybe you can understand this in a heavily food-oriented pub where diners don’t want to have to put up with pooches begging for scraps, but even there surely a dog-friendly drinking area could be set aside.
Some licensees seem to have a narrow-minded attitude reminiscent of the old-fashioned park-keeper, and delight in issuing instructions to their customers as to what they should not do. Yet, in my experience, the vast majority of dogs in pubs are well-behaved and are content just to sit quietly under a table. I recall recently being in a pub where a guy got up to leave and took with him a large black poodle that I hadn’t even noticed was there at all.
Indeed, one couple of dog-lovers told me that, even if they don’t have their dog with them, they often ask whether a pub welcomes dogs. “Without fail,” they said, “all the pubs which say no turn out to be rather soulless, unfriendly places which we wouldn’t choose to visit again – no matter how nice they look, or how ‘reasonable’ their excuses are for not allowing them – whereas the ones which say yes are always warm, friendly and sociable. Although it has surprised a few bar staff when we walk in, having asked if dogs are allowed, without said pooch in tow.”
So surely it’s time for more pubs to extend a warm welcome to man’s best friend – provided he behaves himself – and realise that promoting a friendly, unstuffy, tolerant atmosphere is likely to be good for business.
Claims that anti-drink lobbyists are not being killjoys ring distinctly hollow
ANTI-DRINK pressure group Alcohol Concern have issued a call for people to abstain totally from alcohol during January. Obviously many people will be forced to cut down simply because of being skint after the festive season, but this is taking things to another level. Spokeswoman Emily Robinson said:
“Many of us think the way we drink isn't a problem, but even having just a few beers after work or a few glasses of wine at home too often can take you over safe limits and store up problems for the future.
“We're challenging people to take part in Dry January and try giving up booze for 31 days, and if it sounds like a big ask you're exactly the person we want to join us and have a go.
“We're not being killjoys or telling people to never drink again. We just think this provides the perfect opportunity for all of us to take a breather and get thinking about our drinking.”
Er, isn’t killjoys exactly what you are being? And those so-called “safe limits” are a load of nonsense plucked out of thin air by you and your neo-Prohibitionist friends. Of course, if every drinker took them at their word, most of the pubs in the country would be out of business by the end of the month. What a result that would be! Somehow I doubt whether we will see them picketing the National Winter Ales Festival later this month.
A group called “Drinkuary” has been set up as a counterweight to this joyless miserabilism – go along to their website at www.drinkuary.org and take a look.