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Sunday, 11 March 2012

The domino effect and the demise of The Publican trade newspaper.

I have been out of the loop recently as far as all things smoking bans are concerned and you all know why. Freedom2Choose and it's members have pulled me back to reality and out of my grief in such a short time, but they do not know it. I will start anew with a tweet I received from that esteemed blogger Dick Puddlecote today. The tweet refers to one Pete Robinson who ran a blog on The Publican.

Pete Robinson was a lone voice to his employers and was treated with comtempt, I am sure, by The Publican's shiny new (as was) City and Business Editor of The Publican Hamish Champ, an ex smoker. Pete Robinson was a must read by us who opposed the smoking ban and made strident calls for the ban to be amended, again to deaf ears so far. Pete Robinson had his ear to the ground and knew what would make or break a pub whereas Hamish Champ, an ex smoker remember, championed landlords/ladies who went Gastro and served food as their savour. Just like the anti smoking myth and lie that non smokers would flock to pubs after the ban and keep them afloat this too was a downright lie. Where is Hamish Champ now? Pete Robinson explains:

And what of Hamish Champ, the smoke-hater's friend? Poor Hamish now edits Plastics & Rubber Weekly, a mind-numbingly boring industrial rag based in glorious downtown Croydon. The only excitement comes on Thursday afternoons when the new paperclips arrive. A hotline to The Samaritans comes as a perk of the job.

You can watch and listen to Hamish Champ speaking in 2008, just shortly before the so called "credit crunch" took center stage and knocked the smoking ban into a cocked hat. He waxes lyrical about food led pubs, which Pete Robinson reasonably poo poos.

'Embrace' the smoking ban we were told. Just do food and everything will be okay. Up your game, open a library/post office/cinema in your pub. Set aside a lunchtime for expectant mothers or an evening for transvestite grandads.

Just offer 'excellence' then watch the customers come running.

How do you 'evolve' to a 33% to 80% drop in takings? Even if it were possible for the country to sustain 40-odd-thousand foodie pub-restaurants, for many it was madness to invest a fortune in pricey catering equipment when local competitors were offering £2.99 two-for-one deals.

In truth the customers we've lost don't want excellence. Most pub goers couldn't give a toss about fine dining, health emporiums, creches, drop-in centres or gymnasiums. They simply want to be treated like adults. They want their old pubs back, warts an' all.

Exactly Pete, my Mrs, god bless her, loved the experience of being taken out to a country pub somewhere and having a drink with a nice lunch or dinner and seen it as one of the treats of life but when she went shopping or wanted to go to her local then all she wanted to do was have a drink and a smoke in comfort, despite the local dickheads that the landlord/lady gave short shrift to. She liked a game of pool (she was very good at pool) and talk to friends she had built up over the years at the local...all that was taken away from her and she couldn't understand why. But you did Pete..
I have taken a couple of paragraphs from Pete's eulogy to The Publican out of context but you can read the full story over at the Freedom2Choose front page, it makes excellent reading and forces you ask "why did these trade papers bury their collective heads in the sand?"

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