Today I have twice heard a phrase that, of itself, seriously underestimates this trade. People speak about me and say that I ‘have’ or I ‘own’ a pub and in doing so they demonstrate that they do not understand the modern licensed trade, or certainly the way that I do it.
Firstly one cannot own a pub, yes I have the keys and the deeds but the pub is not a building it is a more holistic, ethereal concept that cannot be owned. I am the current custodian of the Plough and nothing more. It is my responsibility to try to shape both the building and the business to meet the current demands and, in so doing, keep the history alive for another generation.
Secondly the whole concept of ownership evokes some materialistic element that simply does not, and in my opinion cannot, exist. The relationship that Gav has with the Plough is not, and will never be, one of simple ownership that would be too easy. The Plough is as much my life as breathing, everything that I do, or don’t do, is influenced by the Plough.
The business of the Plough is not the cutthroat mathematical challenge that people believe, and I know the same is true of so many pubs, every pound note has a smile or a grimace attached. I know every person who supports the Plough and we know every person who disrespects us, we are a team that’s how it is.
When I speak to people about this trade that is the one thing that I cannot ever convey, the fact that this is instead of a life not as well as. I don’t have any life other than the Plough and, by corollary, the Plough has no life without me. As I write this I sit in a small office surrounded by white boards, notes and ‘to do’ piles, the daily machinations of the pub, this is how I keep this grand old lady alive.
The people who I speak to don’t realise the effort that it takes to run a pub, they don’t understand the back room stresses and there is a reason for that. Simply, we are good at what we do, we make this gruelling existence look easy, we make the 130 hr/7 day week look like fun. I know that you drive past me with the same hangover that I have had and look at a sleepy pub with ‘two doors to open’ and see how easy it can be. Luckily you are driving so don’t have time to see that I am working (it would ruin the image) that is what I do, I work, every minute of every day is the Plough.
So to leave this thought let me just say that I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.