* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Firkin Hell

29 July 2002
Jamie calls time...

I've had it up to here with the lot of you. You can take those phony pieces of farm machinery, your amusingly-named home-brewed 'real' ales and your Worzel Gummidge, and shove them all up your fat, bearded arses...

It's typical. I've been away how long? About a couple of years, or something, I think. Naturally, first thing I want to do is go for a cheeky couple of halves at the old local; see a few old faces, put some of the classics on the jukebox, generally relive my wasted youth (in more ways than one). Now look what's happened: Mr J D Wetherspoon has planted one of his sanitised beer 'n' burger joints in its place. No music (because you want to cater for as many tastes as possible at once, and the music might - God forbid - put off a paying customer or two). No landlord (we now have a bar manager, who knows what he's talking about because he's studied it at university rather than being a registered alcoholic). And a no-smoking area. A fucking no-smoking area. It's a fucking pub! There's supposed to be smoke in here! There'll be a non-alcohol area next, right by the kiddies' playpen.

And look at the bland clientele we've been saddled with. Mostly suits out drinking after work, people who've been in the area for about five minutes and are going to move on to the next place in five minutes more. Really arsey sixteen year olds, not the old type who counted themselves lucky not to be ID'd, but right arrogant bastards, looking at anyone out of their teens like a fossil, sat drinking their bottled piss and pretending to like it, using the leverage of Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezer to work their way into the pants of their screeching female equivalents (not realising they've left them on the bedroom floor). The occasional refugee from the old times, looking completely out of place but unable to break the habit of a lifetime, drinking his habitual three pints before going home for a meal that isn't cooked for him any more...

George Orwell should be spinning like a turbine in his grave. Fit the right dynamo and we could power the pneumatic drills to bring these bastard monstrosities to the ground... You may recall an article he wrote back in '46, two years before 1984 was released, entitled 'My Ideal Pub'. A pub called 'The Moon Under the Water', with an attentive, busty barmaid, loyal clientele, cracking beer and the greatest atmosphere in the world. Of course (as you might have guessed), the pub doesn't exist; even fifty-something years ago the future of pubs looked bleak. Now, there are about as many 'Moon Under the Water' pubs as there are Red Lions. And they're universally shite. Are these guys even slightly self-aware?

What's gone wrong? Probably the whole concept of the pub as it should be, the 'public house'; just an extension of your front room, with a couple more armchairs and a few pumps. A place for people to drop in, have a couple of beers and a chat, and maybe eat some peanuts. Nothing too strenuous; certainly not standing room only. Kids might be allowed at the picnic tables outside, as long as they didn't feed salt 'n' vinegar Smiths crisps (no Walkers back then) to the ducks, but no running around the inside of the place. No young ladies to speak of, of course, but then you can't have everything, can you?

But I guess that sort of thing just doesn't make money any more. Perhaps we should just ring last orders for city centre pubs in general, make a concerted move towards dedicated bars that do exactly what they say on the tin, rather than a token effort at a real pub. Keep the kids happy with their bottled beverages and loud music, so you can stand and semi-dance rather than awkwardly trying to light a cigarette while holding a packet of crisps, your coat and your pint. Those of us who want to have comfortable drinks can do it at home, or at our mates'. At least JDW won't be getting any of the proceeds...


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
13 October 2003. Jamie writes: The Persistence of Memory
22 September 2003. Jamie writes: The Email Eunuch
1 September 2003. Jamie writes: Credo
11 August 2003. Jamie writes: Brad and Jennifer and Me
21 July 2003. Jamie writes: Interruption
30 June 2003. Jamie writes: Do you remember the first time?
12 June 2003. Jamie writes: Forthcoming Attractions
19 May 2003. Jamie writes: Stupid Mistake
28 April 2003. Jamie writes: Hoping and Praying
7 April 2003. Jamie writes: Strangers on a Plane
17 March 2003. Jamie writes: Q&A
24 February 2003. Jamie writes: Altered States
3 February 2003. Jamie writes: How to say goodbye
13 January 2003. Jamie writes: In A League Of Their Own
23 December 2002. Jamie writes: What's in a name?
2 December 2002. Jamie writes: Lies, Damned Lies and Spastics
11 November 2002. Jamie writes: Memoirs of a Gaysian: A Preface
21 October 2002. Jamie writes: Love is blindness
30 September 2002. Jamie writes: Time for bed
9 September 2002. Jamie writes: Angry Exchanges Can Be Puzzling [10]
19 August 2002. Jamie writes: High Speed
29 July 2002. Jamie writes: Firkin Hell
8 July 2002. Jamie writes: Do you, er... haiku?
13 June 2002. Jamie writes: Unnatural Porn Thrillers
20 May 2002. Jamie writes: The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins
25 April 2002. Jamie writes: Meeting People is Easy
4 April 2002. Jamie writes: I Want I Want I Want
7 March 2002. Jamie writes: The Player of Games
11 February 2002. Jamie writes: Fat Man Walking
17 January 2002. Jamie writes: Passive/Aggressive
3 January 2002. Jamie writes: Love (classified)
29 November 2001. Jamie writes: A Lil' Nite Muzak
5 November 2001. Jamie writes: Natural born liar
11 October 2001. Jamie writes: All I need
17 September 2001. Jamie writes: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool)
23 August 2001. Jamie writes: Class act
30 July 2001. Jamie writes: Ritchie Neville is dead
5 July 2001. Jamie writes: A Letter from God
11 June 2001. Jamie writes: "If it's in French, it must be deep"
17 May 2001. Jamie writes: Reportage
23 April 2001. Jamie writes: Show me the Logos
29 March 2001. Jamie writes: Sobering Thoughts
8 March 2001. Jamie writes: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
8 February 2001. Jamie writes: Spent
15 January 2001. Jamie writes: Full to the brim
21 December 2000. Jamie writes: fuck xmas
27 November 2000. Jamie writes: Eye Candy
2 November 2000. Jamie writes: World-wide-web?
9 October 2000. Jamie writes: Kids' stuff
14 September 2000. Jamie writes: Scatological Warfare
21 August 2000. Jamie writes: I can't stand up (for falling clowns)
10 July 2000. Jamie writes: The Etymology of Greatness

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