The Pub Seven Deadly Sins

Oct 00

THE PUB SEVEN DEADLY SINS: 1: Jukebox / MTV combo’s

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THE PUB SEVEN DEADLY SINS: 1: Jukebox / MTV combo’s

Many pubs are now littered with televisions. Useful in sporting occasions, which therefore draw in the punters who drink more. Certainly I have spent many a happy afternoon in a Saloon, pint of India Pale Ale in hand watching two obscure football teams battle it out. Nevertheless, despite all the good works of Sky TV in this field, football is not on all of the time. And when it isn’t, the simple minded landlord will – rather than turn said goggle box off – like a five year old child they change the channel to the flashy, gaudy bauble channel.

Now I have nothing per se against MTV. I mean, I used to work for them and they were bastards, but the idea of music and video is not a priori abhorent to me. Its really the synchronicity aspect which bothers me. Y’see when they put MTV on, a certain breed of landlord will turn the sound down, and pop on the jukebox. So you get Eminem dancing wildly behind the bar, and Queen’s Greatest Hitson the juker. Of course the natural rule of opticals is that if a television is on, you will invariably watch it. Thus causing dizziness, nausea and a general irritation with the pub in general.

This – my friends – is pub deadly sin number one.

Oct 00

THE PUB SEVEN DEADLY SINS: 2: Stainless Steel Pissers

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THE PUB SEVEN DEADLY SINS: 2: Stainless Steel Pissers

Luckily this is the realm of the more wanky bars and nearly all Mean Fiddler venues, rather than the average pub – but nevertheless there is the odd hostelry which has this man baiting horror sequestered within. The ceramic urinal is a masterpiece of design, both the singular and the wall based trickle down affair receive the contents of an overly full bladder with little splashback. This is both due to simplistic design and the use of ceramic, a substance which would appear to use its sheen to remove spray. The addition of the urinal cake to make it smell sweeter, or a swisher device to prevent fag end clottage are optional but certainly do not make the experience any worse.

Design classics are not meant to be usurped. Classics because they are both beautiful and functional. The stainless steel urinal is not a step up from the ceramic – it is down the pisser evolutionary tree by quite some stretch. Firstly, and by no means unimportant, is the very substance the toilet is made out of. It may be called stainless steel, but it is anything but. After some usage they often develop a dullness of sheen, and the water heads clog with cacky scum. But this is nothing to the splashback. A trampolene would not bounce back this much piss. Due to the flimsy sheet of metal and the angle of the back board, well over fifty percent will end up flecking your trousers. Woe betide if you are wearing shorts. On top of this the trough (for it resembles nothing less than a pigs trough) will have about two litres of stagnant piss filling them at any particular time – even if the woefully inadequate drain is not blocked by fag ends. Finally, as it is a free for all situation, personal space – so required when the delicate art of relieving oneself is undertaken – is replaced by a jostling unbecoming a pub toilet.

If you know a pub with a stainless steel pisser, then do not stand for it. Go in the ladies instead.

Jan 01

The Pub Seven Deadly Sins: 3: Fake Doors

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The Pub Seven Deadly Sins: 3: Fake Doors

There is a joke about this. “When is a door not a door? When it is the left hand door of the Lord John Russell.”

It is cold, dark and relatively late. You are scurrying to meet friends in a local pub. Its a new pub to you, but they tell you that it is really rather nice. You arrive at the Red Lion (for want of a statistically likely name). You push on the door. It does not budge. You push on its partner. It does not budge either. You then notice through the frosted glass window a table in front of the door, your friends sitting there in, pointing and laughing – gesticulating to the “other” door – usually hidden out back. Yes my friend, you have come across : The Fake Door.

Fake doors are not of course fake at all. They all work, though they may be a bit sticky from years of repainting the hinges and being bolted. They harken back to the good old days where pubs were not merely one room warehouses of drinking. In the old days, (cue fag stained sepia flashback) your pub had at least two seperate bars. Public – for any old punter off the street – and private, for the locals. You may even have a lounge – for the ladies, or a Saloon for those authentic Wild West punch ups. Since it would not be right to find any old bloke in the Private Bar, let alone a lady, each segment had its own door.

Flash forward to the horror of the eighties. Not only did the eighties bring us the demise of Double Diamond (the holy grail for any drinker coming of age in its thrall), they also knocked most of these pubs through. Its almost definately Whitbreads fault. The idea is sound from a management freeflow diagramaitical point of view. Less bars mean less bar staff, less walls mean more space. But it also means five doors to enter one pub. And since, in a freeflow diagram, a locked door is merely another wall – this is promptly what they did.

A lot of pubs neglected to do what might be sensible and pick the least used doors as the once for wall conversion. Indeed many still look like doors as well. Occasionally there might be a tiny sign saying “Please Use Other Door”, but rarely are there directions to find said other door – and once you have committed yourself you are still going to look a fool.

All we ask is the ability to walk straight into a pub, off the street without some Krypton Factor test to see if the door is infact a door. If you walk into a pub looking and feeling like a fool, then you will be treated as such – and this most welcoming of bosoms will suddenly feel barren and unnurturing. And you feel like a tit.

May 01


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 504 views


Now those who know me will be well aware that I rarely puff on the evil weed. Or, for that matter, its slightly less evil and more charitable weed. So you would think that I would be a clean air fanatic. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not just because I may well be drinking with smokers – you try dragging Hammers into a non-smoking area at your peril. It is much more that pubs smell of fags, much like strawberries smell of – well strawberry.

You walk into a pub and there will be a comfortable cloud to beckon you. The morning after, if you have been lucky enough not to go home, when you pull your clothes back on they will smell of smoke – and the joyous hours spent in the pub come flooding back. No Smoking Areas completely misunderstand the point of pubs, you might as well have a no converstation or no bullshit area. I say that in a wary way, since I know that the managing director of Wetherspoon’s reads this and it can only a matter of time before completely quiet pubs are phased in.

The smell of smoke mingles with the taste of beer (especially lager) to create the aura of pub. There is a reason why this is called Pumpkin Publog, not Pumpkin Beerlog – and not just because we despise CAMRA and all it stands for. We love pubs, and we cannot see how you can designate a no smoking area – there are no invisible force field generators availible on the open market to stop smoke drifting into those areas. Therefore any pub which has a no smoking area is like a footballer without legs, unfeasible.

And I do like the odd cigar at the end of the night too.

May 01


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 431 views


Taking a partial an unilateral view on a subject. Not something that Mr Baran has been un-guilty of before (Year of New Racism eh? Not quite unilateral if you count the Tory back-benchers who also seem to applaud this reprehensible trend). Point 1: Agree non-smoking zones are the biggest waste of time, generally because they too stink of fags. Point 2: Personally I have a major grouse against the odour of fag, especially morning-after clothes and hair. Febreeze on hair? No thanks. Does Pete do any laundry, perhaps Emma can help confirm? The only way I can tolerate it is if the person and conversational gambits outweigh the fug. Mostly they do. But believe me, if I find myself stuck with an out and out toss-pot with a fag, I’ll be taking an early bath. I fully expect to be found wanting in my discrimination tactics, but don’t push your luck. Having a particularly arse day at work, hence the testy tone.


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 490 views


The major problem with Pub No-Smoking Areas is that the only way to guarantee their being smoke-free is to open all the doors and windows nearby so the No-Smoking Area is also the Draught Area.

Major problem with pub smokers: like all drugs except alcohol, conversations about fags, scabbing of fags, oh you never buy them, im sure i had three but wait i only have one, look at this lighter it was only 50p etc. etc. are the gristle on the meat of pub banter.

Jan 02


Pumpkin Publog1 comment • 658 views


The pub deadly sins have been quiet for a while. That is because past the first four I could not think of anything which seem so severe as to be a deadly sin. Plenty of annoying incidents occur in the pub, plenty are the fault of the pub. From irrational dislikes of antipodeans bar staff who do not understand how to pour Guinness to one particular joints lousy layout which makes it impossible o navigate from the bar to your table. In the end I felt I had to look at the most universal of these tiny niggles, and it hit me straight away. Menus.

These are not always food menus; they may be the wine list. Often made of shiny, colourful card they stand proud in the middle of your table and they are resolutely in the way. Perhaps they are laminated, or even in a strange panelled plastic wallet. However they are presented, they are always in the way.

I have no desire to blow my own trumpet here, but chances are if I am visiting your hostelry I may well fit more people round my table than you might be expecting. A table with four seats can easily accommodate eight people given that our empties are taken away regularly and there isn’t some colourful piece of card propped up in the middle. Its a minor annoyance, but it annoys none the less.

Reading matter, unwanted reading matter, is like a television in a pub. It draws the eye and in the end you will end up reading it. This may then cause you to toy with the idea of food, and hunger will enter the equation, demeaning the drink sensation. Do not misunderstand, I am not against eating in a pub. If I want a menu I will ask for a menu, or even better this is exactly what blackboards are for. Indeed blackboards are so much more about a bill of fare than poorly painted comedy pissed people or thoughts of the week (thank you very much Halfway House, Camden Town). I object to being given reading matter I do not want to read.

It may be said that the irritation with menus may well be due to an irritation with the pubs in which such things can usually be found. The menu and wine list is a staple of the chain pubs – especially Wetherspoon’s. This may be why this is here, if one wants to avoid the pre-fab menu then avoid the pre-fab pubs. More and more however are these bastard things being introduced to otherwise nice pubs. Stop this floppy card madness now.

Jun 09

THE PUB SEVEN DEADLY SINS: 6: Over Aggressive Table Grabs

FT + Pumpkin Publog15 comments • 662 views

Just as there is a thin line between love and hate, or strong ale and LOOPY JUICE, there can some times be not much between excellent pubcraft and pubtwattery. One man’s smart land grab for a table in a pub is another’s aggressive take-over bid. So instead I shall describe a scenario and see if you feel this fulfils sin or is actually impressive work. Note, this is in the PUB DEADLY SIN section so it is clear what I think.

I was in a pub with a friend watching the cricket. The nature of this pub is that the table was close to the TV, so the best angle on the cricket was from one end of the table. The other end of the table was bookended by the window in the pub. Nevertheless we had happily shared this table with a French couple having a slightly disappointing Fish And Chips. Who left after being slightly disappointed. To be replaced by a couple of Finnish women who asked if the end of the table was free. Yet again, showing excellent pub manners, we assented.