I have seen a vision of Hell, and I'm scared for my kids' future.
I visited a 'pub' tonight with Mrs Puddlecote and the parent Puddlecotes. For a meal, natch, seeing as the simple enjoyment of alcoholic beverages in such places is now frowned upon.
I don't visit pubs much these days, if at all, seeing as they don't seem to serve the purpose that they used to. Pubs used to be fun, a place to relax. Not so anymore it seems.
The restaurant ... err ... sorry, pub, in question is a well-established and historic building in a rural part of suburbia. Upon entering, one is greeted with a fantasy world of faux British pub paraphernalia. The mock Tudor beams inlaid on crusty exposed brickwork, the rustic-style brushed pine floors, all recently installed by some guy from Gdansk, the minimum wage teens behind the bar who look aghast as one asks for a whisky mac. The Manager who is called to help and also needs the drink explaining to him, being the consummate professional that he is.
Having ordered, finally, the drinks, and having successfully avoided being pole-axed by the 2 and 3 year olds that were torpedo-ing themselves around the bar area, we moved swiftly to the table.
I was salivating at the prospect of a quality menu from such a high quality establishment. Yes, 'Strictly Come Dancing' was being shown on a plasma TV in the other bar, tastefully surrounded by a Georgian style picture frame as if to hide the fact that it was actually shit, but hell, this lot surely must have some substance to accompany their pretension.
Actually no. The menu was the same or worse than Wetherspoons but priced incredibly more expensive. I was tempted by the Gammon Steak at £10.95, discounted the Steak & Kidney pud at £12.90 (seriously) and finally plumped for the Sausages and Mash in Yorkshire Pudding at £8.95. In hindsight, I wish I'd just stopped at the kebab shop on the way home.
While eating we were asked three times by staff if everything was OK. On each occasion, the lively conversation we were enjoying was stilted by the interference.
Us Puddlecotes tend to be passionate people and post-meal we were debating the world as we do, and as pub customers have done for decades. The daggers we got for it. I'm not kidding but one woman actually dropped her ice cream and her jaw at the same time when "Cancer Research UK" and "tossers" was mentioned in the same sentence. If there weren't signs all around the place advising that 'swearing will not be tolerated', I'd have told her to fuck off.
I'm only just past the age where life is proverbially supposed to begin, but even I can remember when pubs were places of lively abandonment. What the hell happened?
There was a plus side though. Although there was no music in the bar itself, the gents was wired for sound and my two visits greeted me with "Are Friends Electric" by Gary Numan, and "Where Did Our Love Go" by the Supremes. I'll pass on the food and just stay in the loo next time.