Pubs In The Digital Age: a cautionary tale. This lunchtime my workmates and I decided to head out for a pub lunch – no boss, not much work on, a great opportunity yes? No. We arrived at The Railway in Wheatley, which is one of those ‘village pubs’ that get recommended in the pub guides* when in fact it is trying its hardest to be a Zone 4 Big Sports Pub, but which apparently does good food**. The pub was deserted. It was midday. “We’re all booked up” said the barman. Looking around we saw that every single table except one very drafty one by the toilets was indeed carrying a ‘RESERVED’ notice. How could this be?

Apparently the pub boasts its own internet website, with downloadable menu and pre-booking facility, and the meant that offline punters rolling up on foot were getting turned away. Now, Pumpkin Publog is a web-based pub guide and enthusiastically supports use of the Internet as a means of planning visits to the pub but this is going a step too far I think. Imagine if we had not been after food and had in fact been simply seeking a soothing pint? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Landlords of the world! Spend your money on a few new CDs for the juker, not on a domain name!

*how to get recommended in the pub guides: i) bits of 17th C. timber on outside wall. Contribution to drinking experience: none. ii) sepia picture of poxy village as it was in 1898. Contribution to drinking experience: none.

**it doesn’t. It has completely average food in colossal artery-busting portions. The ‘cheese and ham’ omelette they serve has left your correspondent at death’s door.