If you want quiet by 10pm on a Friday, don’t live next to a pub!

This post was written by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on February 15, 2011
Posted Under: Culture,Drinking

Last Friday I enjoyed a drink with some friends at the Southampton Arms. Upon arrival we had immediately headed outside, partly because the pub was extremely crowded, and partly because, like many other people, we still enjoy a drink amd a smoke. Suddenly just as the clock struck 10 several staff appeared in the beer garden and very quickly ushered everybody inside – since 10 pm was when the beer garden had to close. Nowadays this is a very common part of the pub going experience. Usually a few people living near a pub will complain about the noise, and the council will respond by imposing what often seem to be OTT restrictions as part of the pub’s licence.

Of course, nobody would suggest that pubs be given free reign, and that the feelings of residents be given no weight. Yet, considering that pub-going is such an important and popular part of our communal culture, there needs to be some give and take (indeed the smoking drinker who is inconvenienced most by such restrictions has been forced to do rather a lot pf giving of late). The question on my mind last week was why somebody would live next to a pub if they wanted quiet by 10pm on a Friday. Granted, people are limited by their circumstances, but the pub is question was on Highgate Road in Gospel Oak, right near the Heath. In other words, local residents probably enjoy the means to exercise quite a degree of autonomy about where they live. Indeed, pubs generally are concentrated in more central locations where housing is at a premium. Surely we can expect people to move into them on the understanding that they may be kept up a little past 10 on a Friday or Saturday.

It is in fact not only concerns about noise that govern pubs outdoor spaces, but also the contemporary moral panic about people DRINKING on The STREET. In Camden Town – hardly the place where one would expect a quiet life – almost all pubs appear compelled to operate a no drinks outside rule. When combined with a “no smoking inside” rule, this can be a pain. Yet as somebody who is not overly cautious I am generally willing to leave my drink inside and watch it through the window if need be. Yet some of my female friends are understandably far more cautious about having to leave their drink unattended if they want a smoke – for them it can be far more than a minor annoyance.

Women are arguably made more vulnerable by a system of no drinks outside, no smokes inside. Yet my focus here isn’t purely on the worst possible outcome of these rules. The point is that women already face pressure not to go out and throw caution to the wind in the way that men are easily able to. Many already find themselves starting the evening by planning how they will get home for reasons men don’t have to think about. As such our night culture should be designed to make it easy for women especially do to as they wish, regardless of the threats they may face. And the current rules, I am afraid, do the opposite

With pubs still closing at an alarming rate politicians of all stripes pay lip service to the idea of supporting our pub culture. Yet they refuse to ever give the interests of pubs and their customers any priority over other concerns – whether it is the desire amongst some for quiet by 10pm on a Friday, or the amorphous and extensive concept of public order, or, in the case of the blanket smoking ban, public health. If our pub culture is going to be saved and supported, then public houses must be given some more leeway to operate in the way that we, pub going public, want them to.

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Reader Comments


Simple solution: give up smoking.

Written By Fran on February 15th, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

Um no. What a ridiculous response.

Written By Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on February 15th, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

Stand in the doorway. That way your drink is technically not outside, nor is your cigarette inside, and yet you may enjoy both.

Written By Connie on February 15th, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

A few things to note – all the complaints at the Southampton have come from the building next door, the residents of which have been there since before the pub was renovated and hence before there was a public garden.

That being said, next to the flats and running above the garden of the pub is a fucking great big overhead railway line which is active with passenger and heavy goods trains 24/7. You’d think they could deal with an extra hour of noise at night.

Written By Joey on February 15th, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

FUCK YOU WRITING I WILL CONTRUCT AWFUL IMPENETRABLE PASSIVE VOICE SENTENCES AS MUCH AS I WANT. What I meant to say, of course, was the the residents of the building next door to the pub have been there since before there was a garden – as such, it might be a tad unreasonable to expect them to move as their neighbourhood changes around them.

Written By Joey on February 15th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

FUCK YOU WRITING I WILL CONSTRUCT AWFUL IMPENETRABLE PASSIVE VOICE SENTENCES AS MUCH AS I WANT. What I meant to say, of course, was the the residents of the building next door to the pub have been there since before there was a garden – as such, it might be a tad unreasonable to expect them to move as their neighbourhood changes around them.

Written By Joey on February 15th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

It’s all gone wrong for me.

Written By Joey on February 15th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

Yeah I agree! Your convenience is way more important than everything else!

Written By Jamie on February 15th, 2011 @ 5:46 pm
Captn Tripps

Funny, funny, stuff Reuben… quite remarkable actually. The highlight of course was allusion to the use of date rape drugs. Way to go for the emotional jugular!

What is ridiculous about the suggestion to stop smoking. Heck, I’m a reasonable guy, you don’t need to stop entirely, just show some willpower and not smoke so much for the few hours after 10pm when you are in the pub. It would certainly save you a lot of trouble, and would stop you from writing lengthy articles about what is really just a minor personal inconvenience.

Written By Captn Tripps on February 15th, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

@Captn Tripps: Well, his point was that really it’s also just a minor personal inconvenience to have an extra hour of noise on a Friday night if you live next to a pub (and underneath an overhead railway line in this case). The fact is that there is no balance given between the two positions, no give and take – the convenience of people who like to have fun is automatically taken as lesser. Societally, it’s taken for granted that the preferences of grumpy people are superior; there’s a larger point here.

Plus, in this case when you’re talking about combining smoking and drinking, there certainly are important issues about unattended drinks for women. You may not be convinced it’s Reuben’s primary motive here, but that’s kind of irrelevant.

Written By AdamP on February 15th, 2011 @ 6:50 pm
Captn Tripps

Oh I see… what I read as ramblings of an embittered smoker is actually highlighting the great divide in our age – between the “fun lovers” and the “grumpy people”. So simple, so straightforward. Sweep everything aside, why aren’t the vile Tories tackling this straight away?

Say for a moment you are someone genuinely concerned that your smoking habit is increasing your risk of someone spiking your drink. What is the problem of adopting the finish your drink / go outside for a smoke / go back inside and get another drink approach? Is that really as much a problem as moving to a different house would be?

Written By Captn Tripps on February 15th, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

Captain Tripps, as is clear in m article, most of what I was saying did not go for the “emotional jugular” of “oh noes women might be raped”. Rather it was that many women already experience greater trade off than men between doing what they want on nights out and safety concerns -= and that these rules accentuate this.

Willpower is neither here nor there. Believe it or not many of us smoke because it is enjoyable, not because we lack will power, and many people find the combination of smoking and drinking specifically pleasurable – hence many people only smoke when they drink.

Written By Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on February 16th, 2011 @ 10:08 am

I really like that picture of you drinking, I don’t think I’ve seen it before. Another one I haven’t seen before is that legendary moment when you met Leonard Cohen…

Written By Salman Shaheen on February 16th, 2011 @ 10:11 am

And further to that, this isn’t simply grumbling from an “embittered smoker” (I prefer angry smoker) about “personal inconvenience”. This concerns the viability of pub life which statistics demonstrate o be an issue right now – regardless of my personal feelings on the matter.

Written By Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on February 16th, 2011 @ 10:14 am
Captn Tripps

I don’t know. “Embittered” still feels like the best fit to me.

OK, lets talk business here. What are more important factors to the pub industry? The price of alcohol of course… That’s where they make their money from you , right? Unless you are unfortunate enough to resort to using extortionate cigarette machines in the pub itself you smoking away is giving them precisely nothing (pre-ban all they mostly gave was reduced life expectancy for the staff).

It is a well worn theory that the cheapness of alcohol from places away from the pub is a bigger risk for the industry, and one perhaps they should be more focused on rather than keeping a pub garden in a built up area open for a few hours more. Why not write something about that rather than trying to spice up your personal gripes by absurdly playing on the risks of others?

Regarding your habit, I accept that you enjoy smoking, and enjoy smoking and drinking. I have and know many people who do also. Enjoying things, however, should not equate to indulging in your pleasures whenever and wherever you please. Show some restraint! Also, writing an article which amounts to you talking about spending a few hours in a pub without access to a beer garden suggests a striking lack of will power to the casual observer.

Written By Captn Tripps on February 16th, 2011 @ 11:39 am

Could we settle on moody?

So business…

The price of alcohol has actually risen fairly consistently in real terms over the past 25 years. http://thethirdestate.net/2010/08/the-myth-of-cheap-alcohol/

Admittedly this data doesn’t tell us anything about the differences in price between pub and shop over the years. However people have always paid a premium to drink in a pub – and given that disposable incomes are substantially higher than 20 years ago (decline in pubs started before the recession) one would expect that people would be more willing today to pay a premium. PUb beer should have a higher income elaticity of demand than shop beer.

However people are willing to pay that premium because the pub is able to offer them an enjoyable and hospitable environment in which do drink…

in internet cafe time runs out in ten secs – will continue!

Written By Reuben on February 16th, 2011 @ 6:47 pm
Mardean Isaac

Any “casual observer” can, by definition, fuck off. Pubs are explicitly purposed to facilitate the pursuit of pleasure, and just because the apparatchiks are forcing all of these asinine, puritanical regulations down our throats, doesn’t mean that ostracising people because they’re exercising their own right to pursue said pleasure – which shall be defined, within reasonable bounds, by themselves – is vindicated whenever it overlaps with a vapid understanding of ‘a net social good’. Health is NOT morality. We’re already issuing restraint by adhering, grudginly and slavishly, to what amounts to an utter desecration of our liberties.

Written By Mardean Isaac on February 16th, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

Excellent say about drinking. I also agree with you. Thanks dude!

Written By Nathan Bandy on May 28th, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

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