Public (House) Benefit

November 1, 2017

I had a few days off recently and spent some quality time in some of Brisbane (and Sydney’s) finest public houses. I find it hard to have a bad time at the pub! Talking to Randoms, having a laugh with your friends, watching the rugby with non-Foxtel-subscribing pals….Good Times.

It made me rather sad when I read recently about the decline of the number of pubs in the UK (although on the plus side, it does give them something else to whinge about). In 1980 there were 69,000 pubs in Britain but the British Beer and Pub Association advises it’s now is down to a measly 50,000! Apparently they are closing at a rate of 21 per week which is just heartbreaking.

I’ve been thinking about all those reboots of TV shows and movies that is preoccupying the entertainment industry these days and I wonder if they remade “Love Thy Neighbour” and/or “’Allo ‘Allo” what would the pubs/bars be like?

I went to one of my favourite pubs in Sydney The Lord Dudley (or “The Dud” as we call it) in Paddington. It’s one of Sydney’s oldest and coolest pubs without doubt which SHOCKINGLY is family-owned. It’s fantastic. No plastic glasses. No having to get in a queue to order pub-grub. Unlike many other pubs it has never fallen victim to gimmicks to attract patrons – doesn’t need to.

I was once part of a Book Club that met at the pub but (not surprisingly) it used to get a bit loose. Lounges were comfy though.

Back to pubs closing in the UK, apparently to attract more customers the Publicans are offering games that range from ping-pong to axe-throwing competitions.

Huh? Axe-throwing? At the pub? Wow. That sounds like an excellent idea. Selling alcohol AND throwing axes.

There was a pub in Balmain in Sydney years ago that had a knitting group. I think it was the Dry Dock. This was around the time everyone was saying “knitting is the new yoga” (which it never was).

My Local is The Regatta. Sitting on the front balcony, looking at the mighty Brisbane river on a beautiful Saturday afternoon having a beverage and laugh with friends is one of the great things in life. I’ve been going there ever since I moved to Brisbane 21 years ago. I had my 30th in a function room and my friend Greg did “the otter” down the big staircase. Gold.

I love it for many reasons but mostly because it has history. A grand history. She looks better than ever at 143 years old and has withstood fire and floods AND has a special place in my heart due to its role in A Woman’s Right to Booze thanks to pioneers Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bognor. These plucky ladies chained themselves to the front bar in protest in 1965 and in doing so helped have the antiquated legislation change so we gals could drink in the public bar. That was a really important event in Australia’s history.

The problem facing the pubs in the UK is also a problem here.  Pubs are no different to any other business they have to stay relevant and the pub is no longer the haven it once was. You can buy grog everywhere now, and it’s quite cheap (depending on what you purchase). A lot of people are focused on leading healthier lifestyles which have seen a steady decline in alcohol consumption and what constitutes fun is quite different now for different demographics. There is endless competition for our entertainment dollar too.

While we are drinking less – which is a good thing – it’s the pub-grub that is bringing people to the public house these days; HOWEVER I would like to leave you with this.

Research from Oxford University released in 2016 discovered that people who go to their local pub are not only significantly happier than those who do not, but also have higher life satisfaction and have more close friends.

The report (written by Professor Robin Dunbar for CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale) outlined that having a strong social network significantly improves both your happiness and your overall health. The more people you know, and the more often you see them, the better you feel and the healthier you are.

There you have it – you need to go to the pub for your wellbeing. Cheers!


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