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Something you will gather from reading this blog is that “Mudgie” is to some extent a persona, and at times can put across a somewhat exaggerated and caricature version of what “Peter” genuinely thinks. One the one hand, you have the dishevelled, semi-alcoholic, Marina-driving codger who sits on a bench in an obscure corner of the pub, mangy pub cat on his lap, nursing a pint of boring brown bitter, reading the Daily Mail and muttering something about hell and handcarts. Then, on the other hand, you have Mudgie…
Yesterday there was another outbreak of debate in the Twittersphere over the old chestnut of children in pubs, which was reflected in these blogposts by Tandleman and Boak & Bailey. Now, the old system whereby children were theoretically not allowed in any room in a pub containing a bar suited me fine, but I (speaking as Peter) would accept that, with the increased importance of food in pubs, and changing social patterns, it’s not appropriate for the present day, and more flexibility is needed.* Mudgie, on the other hand, would tend to agree more with Keith Wildman.
I don’t have any kids myself, but I do have six young cousins aged between 5 and 10, four boys and two girls. I love them dearly, and they get generous birthday and Christmas presents. You know, really big lumps of coal. They also ultimately stand to inherit that part of my ill-gotten hoard that hasn’t been bequeathed to Cats’ Protection. But the last thing I'd want is to be in a pub with them when I just want a quiet drink.
It has to be recognised that this remains a controversial and divisive issue, and it’s unrealistic to believe that in the enlightened modern era all pubs and bars should be suitable places for playing Happy Families. So I will leave the following points for your consideration.
  • All these pubs that people complain about not admitting children - where are they? The only local pub I can think of with a declared over-18s policy is a wet-only boozer that doesn’t open at lunchtimes during the week.
  • There does seem to be an issue of pubs in tourist locations in Cornwall not admitting children which is untypical of the rest of the country.
  • It doesn’t make you the Childcatcher to prefer to enjoy a quiet drink without the sound of children’s happy laughter. If there are noisy children running around, I’m entitled to vote with my feet.
  • I know I’ve been accused of being an unreconstructed politically incorrect sexist for saying this, but, unless they’re there to eat, there really is nothing for children in pubs. Yes, we can all point to examples of families on holiday and taking the kid out for a walk in the pushchair, but in general, if you’re taking your child in a pub while you have a drink, you’re not doing it for them. There are some things you have to forgo when you have children, and unrestricted boozing is one of them.
  • Drinking and chatting in pubs is basically an adult activity. As soon as you introduce children into the mix, the entire dynamic of the situation changes.
  • I really can’t see why there can’t be a diversity of provision, with some child-friendly pubs, and some adults-only pubs, or even separate areas within pubs. Now in what context have I heard that before?
  • But unfortunately, some parents seem to take exception to children being excluded from any part of any pub at any time. It’s “those parents” as described in this comment on Tandleman’s blog:
    It's obvious to you and me -- and most parents too, I'd reckon -- but there are always "Those Parents". And any pub that dares to suggests there might be better alternatives for little Sproglin and Sproglina will not only get an earful, but will suffer the sh*t-storm on Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, etc. from "Those Parents".
    If licensees try to take any action against badly-behaved children, they run the risk of being accused of being child-hating curmudgeons. So it can be simpler to impose a blanket policy rather than a taking a case-by-case approach.

* Oh, and I also quite enjoy plenty of so-called “craft beers”