Curmudgeon's "Opening Times" Column - November/December 2017
Driverless cars could give a major shot in the arm to the pub trade
RECENTLY, there has been a growing amount of interest in the development of driverless cars. The wider subject is really beyond the remit of this column, although I’m sure there are many applications where they will prove very useful. However, as with many other disruptive technologies, both government and independent commentators still seem unsure as to how they will eventually come to be used.
Looking at the subject from a more parochial perspective, one area where they could make a massive difference is in getting you home from the pub. In rural areas, with negligible public transport and distances beyond an economic taxi ride, pubgoing opportunities are currently very constrained. And, even in towns and cities, while there will be some pubs that can be reached easily on foot or by public transport, there are plenty more that can’t be. Just imagine programming your automatic chariot for an evening’s crawl round some otherwise hard-to-reach pubs!
Some have suggested that there will always need to be a sober, licensed driver on hand in case of emergencies, but that rather defeats the whole purpose, and how quickly could someone be expected to react anyway if they were busy posting on Facebook? Indeed, one of the obvious applications that has been suggested is eliminating human drivers from taxis. And surely one of the major benefits of driverless cars would be to enhance mobility for people such as the very elderly or those with chronic illnesses who are currently unable to drive themselves. However, no doubt the killjoys will be working hard on ways to prevent driverless cars being used in this way, saying “that’s not what they were intended for”.
So-called “posing tables” are a divisive and uncomfortable abomination in pubs
A LOCAL pub has recently received a “craft” makeoever, which involved replacing about half the seating with high-level “posing tables”. This is a plague that is afflicting more and more pubs nowadays. I suppose the thinking is that they appear modern and trendy, conjuring up visions of bright young things disporting their long, skinny-jean clad legs in a fashionable, cutting-edge bar. But, more often than not, you end up with plump middle-aged folk perched incongruously on high stools.
They spoil the look of the interior of a pub and create an artificial division between drinkers by putting them on two levels. You might say that some people prefer them and should be given the choice, but would anyone walk out of a pub if there were none, and did anyone ever suggest them when asked what they would like to see in a pub refurbishment? It also seems that they appeal to people with an exaggerated sense of their own importance who want to be the centre of attention. The formal name for them is “poseur tables”, which rather sums up their attraction.
A couple of decades ago, there was a fad for putting raised seating areas in pubs to break up large areas of flat floor. However, the realisation eventually dawned that these were very unfriendly to the disabled, by effectively closing off a substantial chunk of the pub to them. You certainly don’t see them in new schemes, and I can think of a few pubs that have had them removed during refurbishments.
Much the same is true of posing tables, which will place people in wheelchairs at a lower level than their friends, and also pose a challenge for older customers with creaky joints. They’re an ugly abomination that should have no place in pubs, and the sooner they’re all consigned to the skip the better.