ALE Spring 2003 No. 309

The Brown Stuff

Biting the Hand That Feeds You!

It has often amazed me the change in character that comes over some landlords when the dreaded bell tolls to signal reinforcement of our antiquated drinking laws. The Jekyll & Hyde approach sticks in Brownie Boy's craw more than anything you could imagine! Whilst the repeal of measures that were brought in during the First World War to keep the munition workers working may not be far away, the attitude of staff and their publican bosses is not so good. I have taken issue so many times with landlords that keep the pub clock 5 minutes fast.

Why do they do it? You will often find that they will ring time early, and cite the pub clock as being the chronometer they work to - it makes one wonder whether they think they've got Big Ben sitting on the back wall of their bar! [You can bet that they don't open five minutes early, either - Ed.]

What is right is right, and if it is time it is time, but no false time-keeping should be put up with. They are often eager to befriend you before 11 p.m. but as soon as the bewitching hour has passed, "Come on you lot, ain't you got 'omes to go to?" becomes the depressing sound. I annoy many friends by reacting against this awful situation, but when we are treated so badly, why do we go back?

There is a riverside pub (no names, no pack-drill - by orders of the editor) in a village close to the centre of town where I had a couple of showdowns after fingers had been thrust into my nearly empty mug in an effort to get me out. The last and definitely final time it happened I remonstrated with the landlady to be told that if I did not like the treatment to %&*$ off and not come back. I heeded her advice - they do not deserve my trade.

The early calling of time is probably my greatest bÍte noire. Why spoil the ship for a hap'orth of tar? But they will, you know. In another pub I meet up with many pals, and I reckon we spend collectively around £5,000 a year; the publican is great, but when he is not there the vixen behind the bar only wants an early exit, leaving us all feeling hassled at the end of what should have been a relaxing night.

The point is that in CAMRA terms, a pub is as good as its beer, but in reality all publicans should take a leaf out of Chris Lloyd's book: in the Cambridge Blue there is a sign, only visible to the staff, that proclaims "Smile at the customers, for without them you will not have a job". If this admonition were heeded by all pubs at the end of the night, the drinking world would be a much better and more enjoyable place.

Jerry Brown


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