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"So your kid can go to school with hundreds of others but I can't go to the pub?"


 

 

"Did you sleep okay?" I ask, as is routine for a morning conversation. But now she winces, remembering the pain of the night. The knee that had surgery years before is being aggravated again by the hours spent providing table service. The physical tiredness has fought the mental worry all night again. "I think it may be time to get out of this industry," she replies.

 

I go to work, drifting as usual. I speak and check-in with some friends in the beer industry who are all feeling the strain. I go for a pint after work, knowing that soon I won't be able to. On one occasion the manager sits on a table adjacent to mine with a beer too. We talk about many things, trying to stay as jovial as possible. He pauses. "It isn't fun running a pub anymore."

 

As the pubs in my work locale slip into Tier 3, the regulars gather for a final drink on a Thursday night. Not for a final chance to get drunk or drink beer that is being sold off cheap, though some on the socials will paint it that way. Part of it is to show solidarity and support to the staff and business being screwed over again. But part of it is for more personal reasons; to grasp one more night in an environment that is so important to them.

 

I've written - and rewritten - a piece with this same headline too many times in the last month. The tone of too many were beyond fury. I couldn't help it. I'm always angry these days. 

 


 

 

Every draft, every version, ranted at those that have wilfully put ospitality in danger by their choice of phrases. Though the above tweet was mostly agreed with, the small percentile of people that could argue against it stayed with me for days and days. Some would say that they work with and support this industry but they have proven with their tone that they only care about their own drinking habits. They have no regard for the people making, selling, delivering or serving their beer. None.

 

Every draft made reference to those that have been on holiday this year, those still flying out to Greece. Those from down south that have had weekend breaks in the north. Those that have been travelling to work in sectors such as digital marketing that has no use at present, but isn't been thrown under the proverbial.

 

It is anger and it is frustration at the entire situation. And it is divisive.

 

In the pub, as it prepared for more weeks of closure, it was time to delete those drafts and start again.

 

For all the weeks of restrictive measures, all the weeks of changing protocols, training staff, dealing with argumentative customers trying to flaunt rules, retraining staff when measures change, worrying 24 hours a day whether the business will survive on 50%+ less turnover, have been for nothing for those entering Tier 3. Instead, they will continue to be used as the scapegoat; the placebo. An entire industry has been judged to be the limping foal at the back of the herd to be sacrificed.

 

I look at my mate who works in a bar, smiling through a final night of socialising in the pub. Pubs mean everything to them. They love their job but there might not be one to come back to. "I have £27 in my bank" they reveal to me later on, through a forced smile.

 

Those that have raised the issues of mental health detriment this year by restrictions haven't considered the impact on the workers in this industry. And they certainly haven't considered the effect on customers who rely on the pub either.

 

It is back to drinking at home for them. But unlike the sunny garden beers of May, whilst embracing a unique situation, it is a quiet solo glass in front of the television. An attempt to block out the noises of inside. Just one more to help you sleep...

 

No, I don't really think like the sentence in the title of this piece. Yet, even if I did would I callously express it and then indignantly stand by it when questioned? I don't know. I can't find the mindset of those that thoughtlessly threw an entire sector to the wolves. But they've won tonight. My anger may not have subsided but it is time to stop being divisive. Hopefully, they will realise soon the impact it is having on people’s careers and mental health. And the hurt caused when you are continuously the figure of people's blame.

 

For the rest, the struggle continues. The physical exhaustion can be rested out. The knee pain might subside. But the sleepless nights will continue. The loneliness will come creeping back. The income hit will be challenging. The mental demons will be fought tirelessly.

 

The real costs have yet to be revealed.

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