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02-06-2013, 14:34
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Throughout my drinking career, piped music in pubs has been a perennial source of complaint. It is, by and large, wholly unnecessary and intrusive, and even if you like it (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/ultimate-curmudgeonly-jukebox.html) the odds are that other people won’t. What is music to one person’s ears will be an unholy racket to someone else. While it is claimed to create instant “atmosphere”, almost invariably it detracts from a pub.
In the 1990s, a guide to pubs without piped music was produced entitled The Quiet Pint. I have a copy from 2000, produced by the Daily Telegraph and sponsored by J. D. Wetherspoon.
Like many such guides, it features a rather random selection of pubs and the overall coverage is too sparse to make it of much practical use, although it might occasionally lead you to a worthwhile pub that you weren’t aware of. The only pubs around here are the Devonshire Arms and Oddfellows in Mellor, the Grapes at Gee Cross near Hyde, Stalybridge Station Buffet and the Station in Didsbury (which I doubt is “quiet” nowadays and may have an uncertain future). Bizarrely, the Devonshire Arms is listed under “Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside” and the Oddfellows, Grapes and Station Buffet under “Cheshire”.
It would, however, lead you to such Cheshire gems as the Bird in Hand at Mobberley, and the two Blue Bells at Smallwood and Tushingham.
The sponsorship by Wetherspoon’s means that a few of their pubs gain main entries, but there is a complete listing at the back. Given their expansion since 2000, such a listing would now overwhelm the book. While the main Wetherspoon’s chain remains music free, I doubt whether many could really be regarded as “quiet”.
The last edition of the book seems to have been published in 2004 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Daily-Telegraph-Quiet-Pint-Guide/dp/1854109960/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370163288&sr=8-1&keywords=quiet+pint), so it must have died a death. However, the problem hasn’t gone away, and if anything seems to be spreading. I can think of at least three pubs on my regular rounds which have a generally traditional character, but within the past few years have introduced piped music where there was none before. Indeed, sometimes the bar staff have been playing what sounded like Radio 1, which was totally inappropriate for the clientele. It has even spread to my local Co-op convenience store.
Having said this, at lunchtime today my local pub, which at times has been one of those suffering from the blight, was gratifyingly music-free, and all the better for it.
Strangely, a while back a regular commenter wondered what “piped music even means”. I would have said it’s a common English phrase, and provided him with the following definition: “music piped or relayed around a building or room which people have not chosen and which they may not be able to escape. In short, it is involuntary music, forced on listeners”.
It’s good to see that the Pipedown (http://www.pipedown.info/) campaign against piped music still seems to be going strong.

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