To “retire and go and run a pub” is one of those oft quoted life aspirations that those still working hard for a living will say when prompted to speculate on how they might like to spend their declining years. For it is seen as idyllic, sanguine, something to aim for where one can take life a little easier.
To be fair, I’m sure that if you’re a top brain surgeon, a high-profile barrister or the chap who cleans the bird poo off the top of lamp posts, it would indeed be an easier life. But on the whole, from my observations, running a pub is not for the faint-hearted or the work-shy. It’s long hours, hard work and comes with that onerous of challenges, that of dealing with the public, some of whom might not always be as sober as one might like.
It takes a special kind of person to be a publican or landlord or landlady or landperson or whatever this week’s politically correct job title happens to be.
So my heart-felt plea to wanna-be publicans is this, please don’t do it, if your heart’s not in it. For you will be expected to provide a community service, a service which the community, most probably, your local community, will come to both expect and rely upon. So if you can’t be bothered to provide that service, then please don’t try. Go and run a widget stall at the monthly market, or seek employment in the pizza shop, inserting the free little model plastic garden table into each pizza box that passes you (has anyone ever got the chairs to make a full set)?
You see dear reader, late one recent Sunday afternoon, after a hard day’s work, I decided to do, what is for me, a rare thing – I simply fancied a long cold pint of lager (oh come on, pick yourselves up, you know full well someone somewhere drinks the stuff so don’t pretend that you don’t).
Picture the scene if you will and I hope you will. The family all assembled into the car, off we set for a short drive to a nice little local village pub, for a quiet Sunday afternoon / evening drink. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I was gasping.
We arrived at the Dinton Hermit to find that it was shut. Not only shut, but it didn’t even have the courtesy to display its opening hours so that we could see what time it opened – or perhaps, on what day it opened. Or if it opened.
Never mind thought I, we shall head for that other famous Dinton pub (that isn’t actually in Dinton but who’s counting) the Seven Stars. Now surely our luck was in, for there beside the main road (the A418 for those who care about such matters and I hope you do) was a blackboard proudly advertising the Seven Stars at Dinton (that still isn’t actually in Dinton but again, who’s counting).
They too were shut and from the look of the “Opening Times” courteously displayed, are not really interested in being a proper pub anyway now, favouring the far-more till jangling restaurant approach. Anyway, I just wanted a drink and tough, they were shut.
Finally, I realised our mistake. We had been trying to get a drink in locally owned “independent” pubs. Fatal. If you want to guarantee that a pub is open in the UK, head for a big chain. I opted for the welcoming hostelry which is the Bugle Horn in Stone. They win my unending appreciation and more importantly, my custom.
So landlords, really? If you’re just too darn lazy to run a pub properly then go and do something else. Yes I know it’s hard work, but then so should you before you take it on.
Anyway, cheers and here endeth today’s rant. Good morrow.