Sunday, 21 December 2008

Whatever Happened to Fun?

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.


vincent1 said...

Some of that is so sad Dick, but the CRUK referance did make me laugh. Thank you.
You are right the pubs are not the same even my hubby, who has never smoked (who I think was looking forward to the ban) although he was always happy in good ventilated pubs. He said "the ban has killed the atmosphere" and yes it has. I loathe going out in the winter now, I have been to parties and that is it. Putting your coat on and off is not relaxing for anyone.
We all know this is not going to stop at smokers.
Your blog is terrific Dick.
mandyv for smokers and non-smokers alike, fighting for choice and TRUTH

Unknown said...

Today I'm sixteen years past the age where life is supposed to begin and can remember, as a kid growing up in Glasgow, pubs with sawdust for carpet and crisps for food. Pubs these days are no place for anyone past the ripe old age of 21 and are as relaxing as a spot your favourite MP contest!

One of these days we'll get our pubs back from all the crooks, theiving bastards.


Mark Wadsworth said...

What's wrong with Wetherspoons food? It seems relatively OK and quite good value to me.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Mark, at the prices they charge it's fine. £9 for Sausage and Mash, however, is not. If they want to be Wetherspoons then great, if they want to be something more refined though, give us a menu that corresponds, not just budget fare priced up as something it's not.

£13 for a Steak & Kidney pudding?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Sorry, forgot to say that it tasted much worse than any Wetherspoons meal I've ever had too.