Where are the heroes of yesteryear?
I went to a pub last night.
A friend [yes- I do have a few friends] suggested going for a pint, which is of course an Irish euphemism for a bellyful.
Now due to domestic circumstances I have been somewhat remiss in the pint drinking area, having taken to whiskey as my tipple of choice, as I couldn’t be bothered with setting up a cellar full of Guinness kegs and all that goes with it. Whiskey is easier.
Now I was somewhat trepidatious about pubbing on Paddy’s Day night as well I remember the days of old where it was one of those nights where you have to fight your way through the hoard of Great Unwashed just to get to the counter to place an order. It was a night where you went early just in the hopes of getting somewhere to sit before the throng arrived.
So we arrived the Friend’s hostelry of choice, I gritted my teeth and opened the door. I was of course greeted with a wave of noise as I expected. However the noise was just piped music blaring away, several wide screen televisions with about half a dozen punters yelling to make themselves heard over the racket. Where were the crowds? This was Paddy’s Day for fucks sake!
Naturally is was a Smoker Hater pub so we headed out back where they has a little seating area. It was cold but at least the noise from inside was somewhat muffled.
When it came to my round I went back in and realised the noise level had increased considerably, which is more than can be said about the number of patrons. There were now about eight or ten people looking somewhat bemused and staring at the flashing television screens that adorned every spot in the lounge. The increase in noise level was apparently the night’s entertainment.
There was a bloke in the corner playing a guitar. That would have been fine but he had a bass drum which he thumped in time to his singing, and to make matters worse he had an amplification system which was apparently turned up to peak volume. His repertoire was somewhat eclectic, ranging from Irish patriot ballads to Monkee’s songs and everything in between.
The patronage at this stage had retreated to the furthest corner from the noise but they still had that glazed expression of one who is not enjoying one’s self.
We left at around midnight. The entertainment had fucked off, probably to somewhere quiet, and there were now about three punters at the counter who were at least pissed enough to ignore their surroundings.
Where the fuck have people gone? Where are the heaving throngs? What the fuck happened to the age old tradition of getting hammered out of your skull on the National Day?
Naturally I blame the smoking ban. There was only one other smoker in the entire place who nipped out back for a couple of frantic drags. Smokers just aren’t welcome any more.
There is also the small matter of price. For the price of a litre of good whiskey I would get a mere seven pints.
You get a lot more bang for your buck with whiskey.
I know what you mean. All the pubs are like that now. Whatever night of the week you go, there is never more than a handful of people in the pub unless said pub happens to be in the middle of the Town or City. Even on match days (and we had a Grand Slam to play for last weekend FFS), the pubs are never packed out anymore. Most of the pubs near me now also have wall-to-wall screens and piped music blaring out so that any conversation can only happen by literally screaming in each other ears. Not my idea of fun.
From what I have seen, the only time pubs even get close to full these days is on a warm sunny day (and we don’t get many of those) when everyone can sit outside. Strangely, on those days you see swarms of smokers on the tables in the beer gardens. Where do they go when it is wet and cold ? NOT to the pubs. That much is evident.
I stopped going to pubs a long time ago. Even though my local is vape-friendly, there is always some prodnose tut-tutting and complaining about the vape in complete ignorance that they probably breathed in more carcinogens in walking to the pub in the first place. Then those same prodnoses are the first to complain that the pubs are always dead.
Like you, I blame the smoking ban. Pubs that were once full to bursting on weekends (and often during the week) are now just massive shells inhabited by a handful of people balefully sitting in silence staring into their beer. Hardly what I would call somewhere to socialise. Fuck knows how many of these pubs even survive anymore. They need to put the price of the beer up to make up for the lack of custom, and those prices only exacerbate the problem by driving more punters away.
Sadly, the pub has had its day. The only pubs you will see in the future will be closer to being restaurants.
In the days gone by, pubs were a great place to meet friends or even strangers. In particular a well known sight in rural pubs was the single elderly person [usually a bachelor farmer] whose only social contact was in the pub. They have nowhere to go now, and I believe the suicide rate amongst them grew considerably after the ban came in. Where does the single person go now to socialise? The coffee shop? [Fine during the daytime] The pub selling food that they probably can’t afford and aren’t welcome if they’re a smoker? They are the forgotten victims.
Ya know even when I drank I rarely went out on Paddy’s day. Probably for the same reasons you mention. I never liked the overwhelming crowds of drunks. The fake green beards The “kiss me. I’m Irish badges “ and the general idea of drinking your self in to a stupor in celebration of Ireland.
The drunks I can nearly take, but the leprechauns, the floppy green hats and the fake “oirishness” just plain annoy me. Anyway, Paddy’s Day is more of an American thing these days.
By the way, is there any way you could arrange for all our politicians who are over there to be incarcerated? Preferable for life?
I play music on St. Patrick’s day every year but I usually try to time it so that I stop by about 7pm. Before the crowds become stupid. This year though I had no such option so I was gigging until about 1am on sunday morning.
You mentioned the fella with the amplification turned up full. I absolutely hate this. I played in a restaurant on st. Patrick’s day and as it was a restaurant I assumed people would appreciate a reasonably low volume from the speakers. Because tipically in restaurant, people like to talk while eating. Music is just in the background. But because it was St. Patrick’s day, the manager wanted a lot more volume than was both necessary and comfortable. His hope was that it would make people hang around for longer and drink more. I felt very sorry for the customers.
I’m very glad it’s over. From saturday to last night I played 8 gigs and 20 hours of music. If only people were as proud of our culture for the other 364 days of the year.
I am one of the old school from times when music in a pub was generally spontaneous, when a few of the locals brought in a fiddle or a guitar. Those sessions naturally were without the “benefit” of amplification. If people wanted to listen, they would listen, and if they didn’t they would carry on chatting. What drives me mad now is the bloke who sits up there with the amplifier blaring and usually some kind of electronically created beat in the background. Painful. I imagine it drives away more custom than it attracts.