We read daily in newspapers and social media about the way the
Licensed Trade is suffering under the restrictions that have been
in place, in various ways and degrees of hardship, since the March
lockdown. Some geographical areas have felt the yoke of
restriction much more than others, in both application and length
of sentence. In the drive to be seen to do something – anything –
the Government has, with regular monotony, picked the hospitality
trade for particular Draconian attention, despite their valiant
attempts, not only to go along with instructions, but to do so
openly and embrace and improve on whatever is called for. Despite
this, it could be reasonably, indeed obviously, argued that it has
done so to little persuasive avail.

I will not chronicle here the damage done, not only to
businesses, but lives, careers and sanity. That is all too obvious
from social media and broader press coverage. Depending on your own
point of view, the trade is either a potential Typhoid Mary, or a
sacrificial lamb. I won’t be running a poll to find out though.
Suffice it to say the trade has been fighting a losing battle.

In the midst of all the rightful angst about the way our pubs
are suffering in this pandemic, I was brought up sharp by a letter,
hand delivered, from my local Cricket Club, of which I am a
member.  While I won’t give away figures too much in case they are
confidential to members only, I will say that in the case of my
club, the loss of income since March is now in six figures, leading
to a potential loss of approximately half that amount by April
2021. If I may quote the Chairman “That is a disturbing figure
in anyone’s book and I urge you to take a second to let that figure
sink in.” 

The income has not only been lost through gate money – a small part
–  but through the ban on events such as wedding receptions,
birthday parties, christenings, funerals etc. Annual events such as
fireworks displays, beer festivals and more have had to be
cancelled.  Bar takings have been decimated.  I could go on, but it
is a grim picture and one that for the foreseeable future doesn’t
look like improving. Of course the club is looking at a number of
unpleasant but necessary measures to overcome this issue, but while
not detailing these here, it is certainly a job I don’t envy.

As a local CAMRA Chairman, I am always being reminded by my Clubs
Officer to think about and include Social Clubs in our campaigning,
which I do try and do.  Social Clubs not only provide an outlet for
a lot of beer to be sold, but between them have many millions of
members.  They provide a local and personal service too as social
clubs, whether for cricket, bowls, brass bands or whatever as they
are always membership run.  People know and depend on each other,
not only for common interest, but much as in pubs, for places to
meet friends and stave off loneliness. Many also sell cask beer and
indeed, sometimes, are the only outlet for it in some areas. In
other places, they have taken the place of closed pubs as regular
places to go for a drink and meet people.

Have a think about the plight of social clubs too, when we
think about the problems of pubs.  Maybe think of joining one to
support it. They face the same issues and also need our support in
these difficult times.

I also know there are views that pubs should be shut
as we all breathe the same (possibly contaminated) air. Not sure
how scientific that is, given the number of times a pub – or club –
door opens and shuts and that it only takes an open window to
completely change the air in a room every 15 minutes – I know. I
looked it up.

Clubs are great places too to observe surviving beer
oddities. I mentioned this
here
.  Oh and I used to be a member of the Dyers and Polishers
Social Club in Middleton, many years ago. It is closed now. Bonus
point if you can explain dyeing and polishing.

“Function
rooms”
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