Much has been made by the press and the trade associations about the way that the pub, and specifically the wet led, trade has been singled out by BoJo and Co.
On an obvious level we all know that wet led pubs are in decline, social drinking outside of the home is in decline and, well, the current pantodemic* has reduced numbers even further. So even if you follow the rhetoric that all pubs are festering plague pits that spread the crazy flu there simply aren’t sufficient of us that closing us makes any difference.
My own research into the matter has revealed that they may be more behind the systematic assault on the wet trade, allow me to share this with you if I may.
It is 1981 and a 17 year old with a floppy mop of blonde hair wants to go to the pub and drink with the older boys. The problem is that they all drink in the Dog and Duck and unfortunately old Ron, the landlord, knew the young fella’s Dad so it was soft drinks only for blondie.
The young lad had heard so many stories from his older comrades about what they got up to when they had enjoyed a few glasses of beer. There was that time when Smythe got so drunk he took his trousers of and wandered the school halls offering his tackle to anyone who was interested. Or what about when Jeffers had too much and they stole all his clothes and sent him off to town to scare the locals. All the japes and banter of an all boy school happened with beer and it was just so unfair that he couldn’t join in.
Our young protagonist was determined to join the older boys banter and hatched a plan. If old Ron wasn’t going to serve him then he would serve himself. A bottle of vodka smuggled in from his old nanny’s secret stash was his weapon of choice for this evening, one of many reasons why he was glad that his parents still employed a nanny to look after him.
Flipping through his bootleg copies of ‘Just 17’ he found the article he was looking for and set about securing the bottle to his cleavage as described. After an hour or so of carefully placing tape over his ‘boy boobs’ and ripping it off (not an altogether unpleasant experience) he decided that he didn’t actually have the requisite ‘cleavage’, what a funny word that was.
Putting the tape to one side for later experimentation he studied his attire to look for a suitable repository for his alcohol. After changing his underwear for more snug fitting swimming trunks and decanting the spirit into a squash bottle he had the solution. The space in the front of the shorts, they always made them loose fit in that area for some reason, was the perfect hiding place.
After checking his reflection in the mirror young blondie was satisfied that his contraband was sufficiently well hidden. In fact the small bulge created by the bottle looked rather fetching and the presence of the bottle was not at all uncomfortable.
He tagged quietly along with the older boys as they headed to the Dog but this time he wouldn’t slip off after a lemonade and two bags of scratchings. He knew the only reason they wouldn’t let him join in was because he wasn’t quaffing alcohol, what else could it be. Well tonight was going to be different because he was drinking, he would be one of them.
Three lemonades (and three packs of scratchings) in, our youngsters evening was off to a flying start. His jacket hid the glass when he went to the little boys room and he had become quite adept at hooking the sports cap out of his trunks and squirting his ‘addition’ into the lemonade.
He was starting to feel decidedly fuzzy which was probably because he normally didn’t have more than two lemonades. A lot of sugar in lemonade and he did like to be as fit as a butcher’s dog. Next time at the bar he secured a packet of cheese and onion to settle his fuzziness, along with another lemonade.
After a mouthful of the sugary drink it was off to the toilet for our youngster. A little more wavy now as he squeezed the bottle and replenished the volume in his glass. He reckoned he was well into the ‘tipsy’ stage and thoroughly enjoying himself, a couple more and the older boys would want him to join in.
As he steered a, not entirely straight, path back to his table he noticed old Ron was heading his way. Just as our wobbly hero reached the older boys table Ron stopped him, blocking his path.
“Ah Stanley’s nipper ain’t ya? Don’t normally see you stay out this long, should I be concerned?”
“Ermm no erm not at all I mean why should you be?” Desperate to get back to his seat now he threw some bluster into his response, it usually worked.
“Well you seem to be using the toilet a lot young’un, you sure you’re ok?”
“Why of course I am ok, I am erm as fit as a butchers dog as I like to erm say. One has to wash his hands you know, protect others and erm all erm that”
The alcohol was certainly taking effect now as his thighs felt rather strange. He had often heard the older lads say they were ‘legless’ so that must be what he was feeling. Turning side on in an attempt to slip past Ron and make it back to the sanctuary of his table he was stopped by the old man’s outstretched arm.
“Well something isn’t right here is it? Either you have been topping up your drink lad or you have a medical issue”
“Erm whatever do you mean, that is absolutely absurd. I mean to even erm make such an erm baseless accusation”
“The thing is lad, since we’ve been talking a puddle has appeared at your foot. So either you just pissed yourself in my pub or you have been drinking your own booze. Either way you got yourself barred”
The commotion had gained the , now unwanted, attention of the older boys as a scarlet flush spread under that floppy blonde mop. A raucous series of chants were developing related to incontinence and poor toilet habits as the horrified youngster fled the pub.
Having run back to his room, the youngster sat on his bed in his vodka soaked trunks. His ears ringing with the catcalls and chants of the very boys he had craved the attention of, his cheeks damp with the tears of embarrassment. This was all Ron’s fault, it was all going so well but that miserable old git had to make a scene.
Just because he was old he wanted to ruin everyone’s fun. Old Ron thinks he is so much better than everyone, thinks he is in charge. As he stripped his sodden trousers the lad was already plotting revenge.
Think you are in charge Ron, so powerful in your world. Well we will see who laughs last Ron, one day I will ruin your fun, you just wait and see. I will grow up and I will find a way to ruin your fun.
With a dark Machiavellian smirk, Boris headed off to the shower.
*A portmanteau (2 words merged) of Pantomime (how this feels) and pandemic (what they call it)