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...but you never know which half. I was reminded of this old saying when leafing through a copy of the Stockport Pub, Food and Music Guide, a local independent publication that is a sort of competitor to the local CAMRA magazine Opening Times and too often is a cuckoo in the nest of the Opening Times holders. It’s a glossy, all-colour, 44-page A4 magazine that, in its most recent issue, contains no less than 77 adverts for pubs and clubs. Given that it doesn’t seem to reach the Cheadle and Bramhall areas, that’s over half the establishments in its catchment area.

Most of the ads are very standard stuff, promoting weekend karaoke and live football on plasma screens, illustrated by stock photos of very non-real looking pints and young female singers, so you have to wonder what benefit the pubs actually derive from them. Or is it just a case of “the pub down the road is doing it, so we don’t want to miss out”? It’s noticeable that some of the top-drawer pubs such as the Arden Arms and Magnet are conspicuous by their absence.

I can understand pubs advertising in a CAMRA magazine, as it might draw in new customers from visitors to the area, or promote events such as pub beer festivals. It’s also a way of making a contribution to the “cause”. But if you don’t have anything distinctive that a hatful of other pubs don’t have, it is hard to see the point. And, personally, karaoke and footy are a big turn-off.

One of the most laughable ads is for the Horse & Jockey in Hazel Grove, which boasts of “a terrific range of ales”. Now, the Magnet, Crown or Railway could justifiably make that claim, but for the Horse & Jockey, which probably has John Smith’s Extra Smooth and one intermittently available cask ale, it is absurd.