Midweek footie pub, your mate got dumped pub, fuck it, pub? pub, Thursday is the new Friday pub, Friday is actually Friday pub, absolutely whopping great big Saturday night pub, pit of despair Sunday roast pub, I’m bored pub, you’re bored pub, tinder date pub, failed tinder date pub, new job pub, lost your job pub, birthday pub, unplanned pub, sunny garden pub, warm winter pub, cheap pints pub, fancy gins pub, full of dickheads pub, you’re being a dickhead pub, pub in sickness, pub in health pub in loss and pub in wealth.
We love the pub, but the pub has changed.
The majority of Brighton’s drinking establishments are returning this week but those that have weathered the Covid will be doing so in a new form.
There will be no queuing, the capacities will be reduced and you can’t have a chin wag with strangers. It will be a bizarre time for all, but it is imperative that we as a collective of pubgoers play our part in easing the transition.
Social media has been awash with hyperbolic proclamations regarding the first day back. Some believe it will be the biggest night ever and some are anticipating an apocalypse of complete moral debasement.
Whilst the reality will naturally fall somewhere in-between, it is the actions of those thinking the former that will have the greatest impact on our way forward.
Groups of headstrong hoodlums will try their best to circumnavigate the rules in place as they try to create some kind of ultimate Saturday party scenario. They will move tables together for their unwieldy groups, they will chin shots like they’re going out of fashion and they will generally be an absolute fucking pain in the arse.
Even if such behaviour is to be expected it is not to be tolerated. The staff in these venues will do their absolute best to keep everyone safe, but it is a frank absurdity that they are being tasked with this responsibility in the first place.
The saintly bar staff of our favourite pubs will not only have to clean up after wankers, serve them drinks all night and bat away unwanted advances, they will now also be tasked with making sure these idiots are adhering to social distancing.
The pub will become the new frontline of a global epidemic and those behind the bar are our last, best hope at survival.
The new state of play will sadly be a bit shit, but we must take it on the chin and get on with it. The only way that we will get pubs back proper is by playing the game.
That said, whilst many of Brighton’s best will be opening doors this weekend, a depressing amount won’t have been able to make it to this new frontier.
Disgraceful action from landlords have rendered many of our finer institutions financially unviable, forcing closures both temporary and permanent.
Either through charging rent when sites were shut, or by now expecting full whac when they can only operate on a fraction of their capacity, pub landlords have shown their true colours in the last months and those colours are as vile as West Street’s rivers of sick.
The Heart in Hand pub, the green-tiled beauty of the Laine, home of Bailey the pub cat and a true Brighton institution is one such venue in dire need of funding.
Exploitative measures enacted by the site’s landlords have left one of the city’s best independent boozers facing a bleak future, one we all must come together to ward against.
Should the Hand go bust and the tenants sell up you can bet the last penny in your pocket that one of the soulless brewery chains will snap the site up, slap in the same beer taps as in all their other copy-paste pubs and generally continue their rampant destruction of Brighton drinking culture.
The pub, like many of Brighton’s independent cafés, restaurants and shops has a crowdfunding page online where you can really, truly help keep it afloat and I urge anyone that can to do so.
Public Houses, boozers, watering holes, whatever you want to call them, pubs are essential to Brighton.
As they reopen it is our duty as a city to slap our cards about getting as many rounds as possible. No drink too strong, no bill too high.
But we must do so with care.
As we all head back out into the wooden-tabled wonderland of lovely, lovely pubs, please follow the guidelines, respect the staff, respect the venues and don’t be a fucking dickhead. We all want proper pubs back but the only way to make this happen is to work with what pub we have now. Be thankful. Be kind. Be observant. Be respectful. Be safe. Cheers.