Conversation with a disallusioned landlord:-
SS=is Simple Simon, LL is Landlord
LL...Hi Simon, how's it going?
SS...So so John. You've not got many in tonight (quick eye count totalled 4 forlorn looking souls)
LL...Better'n most night I can tell you (eyes rolled skyward)
SS...But this place used to be heaving at the weekends John!
LL...Yeah, 'used to be' being the operative words. Now it's like a f*****g morgue. I used to love it here but now I just can't seem to do anything to attract custom anymore.
SS...What happened to the live music every weekend John, jesus, it used to be packed out!
LL...Oh bugger that for a game of soldiers! They stopped coming here cos most of the drinkers were outside smoking or with the smokers! They said they weren't playing to the ten or twelve that stayed indoors-and anyway, I couldn't afford to put them on now so bands are a no no.
SS...Where did that 'dollybird' go, what was her name? karen was it? She was a cracker she was.
LL...Same place the other 5 went Simon - other jobs. Just me an' the missus here now kid, certainly can't afford to pay any bugger to work here so we do the cleaning as well (eyes rolled skyward again)
SS...Some turnaround John, I can't believe it's so quiet mate.
LL...That f*****g smoking ban has killed this pub and many others like it. just look at that poxy thing out there (he pointed through the window at the 'smoking shelter'which took up most of the tiny backyard) A 'Pig in a Poke' that f*****g thing is. £600 that cost me, and for what? Nobody uses it cos you don't get any protection from the weather - you might well stand on a f*****g mountain top with an umbrella as use that lump of shit!
Me dinner time crowd have all gone, you remember old Arthur, Len & 'the boys' don't you Simon? They stay at home now, don't even go down the club on a saturday night anymore! Jesus Christ, it used to be a crime if one of them missed the club out one week-sick certificate needed an all that (he briefly smiled at the thought).
SS...Has the smoking ban been that bad then John?
LL...Worse kid, you'll never understand what it's done to this country (now I smiled to myself), it's f****d it up good an proper kid. Just look at this (he nodded in the direction of his 4 customers, one of whom was readying to depart). What use is that to me to try and make a living from? This place pissed all over £12 grand a week until the ban came in, now me and the misses can't even earn a wage from it. Bet you didn't know we put it up on the market 18 months ago? yeah we did you know! Not one interested party in all that time and we've dropped the price by £40K-still nothing. Even the local football team avoid us on saturdays now as they can't have a fag in 'ere. What a joke.
SS... Most definitely does not sound good at all John, I offered.
LL...Good? it's all bad Simon i'm tellin' you kid. The punters have gone, the bands have gone, the bookings for upstairs have gone, the staff have gone. basically the business has gone! We've put too much into this place just to walk awsy so summat's gottan happen soon or we'll be joining the other 6,000 plus businesses f****d by Blair and his health lobby mates. I'd set fire to it but I won't cop for the insurance on the dump! Anyway with my luck the f*****g fire brigade would be just round the corner and would save the friggin' place!
SS...How's the other half then John? (thinking I'd lighten the gloom)
LL...F*****g terrible Simon, she's on anti depressants now kid, it's all been too much for her.We sunk thousands into this place to get it right, and got no chance of getting a penny back now; f*****g health twats! Smoke? Secondhand smoke? All bollox. Give me a pub full of smokers anyday!
I left John to his endless list of complaints and thought about the monster nights we'd enjoyed there before the ban came in. When you see pubs (and landlords) like this, it really does make you wonder what this country is doing to its people.