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."
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.