Our Glorious and Magnificent Gubmint has come up with a plan.
The first part is an idea I had heard of before and thought it an excellent idea – the concept of rural office hubs.
If there is one good thing that has come out of this Virus lark it’s the concept of working from home. I know a bit about this as I used to do a lot of it. In my cable days I used to do the vast majority of my system designing at home, as I had developed a computer programme to do the heavy lifting for me. Then when I went into computer programming I once had to do a couple of weeks work from home which meant dialling into RTE and working from a remote terminal. It was painfully slow and tied up the phone line for the entire day as that was before broadband was even thought of. But it worked and I thought it was great.
Working from home has a few advantages. The first and by far the greatest is the lack of commuting. I could get out of bed and be at the terminal in a matter of minutes. No sitting in endless traffic jams and of course not using any petrol. Also tea or coffee, or indeed any food was to hand and I didn’t have to pay canteen prices. The biggest disadvantage was the regular interruptions. Home life often intruded on work life. Also I missed the chat in the canteen.
A rural office hub solves most of the problems. There’s a very small commute to the office, often within walking distance, and the “office” can be absolutely anywhere in Ireland – no need to live in a highly priced suburb High speed broadband. No interruptions while still providing human contact around the water cooler. I think it’s an excellent idea and could totally reform and revive smaller villages around the country.
The second part of the plan has me baffled though.
They want pubs to become “community spaces”?
What the fuck do they think pubs were before destroying them with smoking bans, over strict laws and sticking the final knife in by shutting them all when the Virus arrived? They killed the heart of most communities and now want to resurrect them somehow?
Pubs used to be social centres. Anyone was welcome to come in, singly or in groups. People could relax and sit in silence while enjoying human activity around them. Or they could strike up conversations with others, friend or stranger. They could plan to meet “over a pint” or maybe organise a birthday celebration. You never need be lonely or isolated if there is a pub around.
Then they banned smoking in pubs [and everywhere else]. Pub trade was decimated as their old regulars were mainly smokers. Over half their regulars had to choose between nipping out into the rain for a fag or staying away. Most seemed to stay away. To make matters worse they made the drink-driving laws prohibitive and raised taxes. The few pubs that were left struggled. Pubs introduced that abomination – the “gastro pub” to try to attract trade. That worked to an extent but the soul of the real pub was dying as most premises hadn’t the room or the facilities to provide food.
Then along comes the Virus and pubs were shut altogether. The doors have been locked now for over a year. Few pubs could survive that.
And now, having hung drawn and quartered the Irish Pub they think it’s a brilliant idea for pubs to become “community spaces” as if this is something radically new they have invented?
Just let the pubs reopen. Provide proper smoking facilities [or more properly allow smoking if the owner is happy with it]. Stop hounding drivers who are perfectly capable of driving after a simple pint or two. Stop penalising the drinker with punitive taxes.
I think pubs would then be quite capable of providing “community spaces”.
Just like they used to do.