I have been pondering writing this particular post for some time and eventually decided to share it in the interests of and open and complete story.
I often hear people say that they couldn’t work in this trade because they don’t have the personality or don’t get on with people or strangers. This statement presumes that I, and the many like me, are naturally gregarious personalities where in fact the opposite is often true. I can only speak for myself but I am incredibly shy and, as the old line goes, you will always find me in the kitchen at parties*.
Much is made of curing phobias by exposure, so arachnophobics are covered in spiders or those scared of flying are taken up in fighter jets, but I don’t believe that is what happens in this trade. For me the pub is my confidence and the trade is what generates my personality. The truth is that the guys telling me that they couldn’t do this are engaging with me in the pub and, in doing so, they are already leaps ahead of me. When you think about your local publicans you will often be able to pick out ones who are socially awkward outside of their own pub, it is far more common than you think.
Contrary to popular opinion I don’t bounce out of bed and throw the doors open to enthusiastically await the public, far from it. There are days when it is a real struggle to open the doors and become the public property that is a publican but I have never been anything less than determined have I? This trade is similar to being an actor in that there is often stage fright involved but the buzz from overcoming it and getting through the day is enough to keep you going.
The more I think back over publicans who I have known or worked with over the years the more I realise that this is far from natural for many of them. It is funny but those guys that don’t seem like ‘traditional’ publicans, the quiet and unassuming ones, are probably the most ‘real’ people you will find as they are the ones who are confident in their life outside of the pub and don’t need a pub personality. For the rest of us our public persona is built from being “Gav at the Plough” it’s how we introduce ourselves, its how people know us and its the environment that we display ourselves in.
I think this is part of the reason that so many ex publicans leave the area when they come out of the pub. Without the pub behind them they cease to be, there is no hologram of confidence to hide behind and no pub personality to operate under.
It may seem strange that a guy who wouldn’t hold a party at home chooses to open his doors daily to the public but we can’t spend our life being the quiet bloke who sits on a bar stool and keeps himself to himself can we?
*In truth you won’t actually find me at parties