KEEP IN TOUCH
One of the key points that CAMRA always makes about pubs is their contribution to the mental wellbeing of their customers in providing a convivial and safe place to meet friends and relax. This particularly applies to single people, myself included. The removal of any possibility of meeting friends is a bleak prospect. The telephone and social media are no replacement but they are the best that we have got in these circumstances. Let’s all do our best to keep in touch with each other at this grim time. Some of you might find this website useful. It is for a service jointly run by the NHS and Public Health England
This is not the place to go into the politics of the situation but many pubs across the country offered to provide meals for children during the recent half term holiday. CAMRA’s National Chairman, Nik Antona, commented, “Pubs across the country have shown that even when they are facing an existential crisis as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions reducing trade and turnover, they are still selflessly supporting their communities. Despite their own financial hardship, publicans are providing help and support when times are tough. It shows just what a force for good well-run local pubs are in our villages, towns and cities. We must do everything we can to support our pubs through the difficult weeks and months ahead so they can continue to play their part as a vital part of our social fabric, and can continue to provide for our communities.” This isn’t just in the current situation. Whenever there are floods or similar disasters, pubs always seem to be at the forefront in providing relief. Furthermore, it is estimated that, pre-COVID, pubs in the UK were raising around £100 million a year for charities. It really is sad that the ‘powers that be’ can’t understand just how important pubs are to their communities.
All things considered, I supposed that we should not be surprised at this. The British Liver Trust reports a fivefold increase in calls to its helpline since the start of the first lockdown period. This was, I believe, inevitable while pubs were closed and people were drinking at home, mostly buying alcohol from supermarkets. According to the ‘think tank’ the Public Policy Exchange (PPE), pre-COVID, there were 1.6 million people who had some sort of alcohol dependency. That is around 3% of the adult population, although we must recognise that every case is, of course, a tragedy in itself. The PPE recently held a ‘webinar’ on the subject of the forthcoming introduction of local Alcohol Care Teams. I was disappointed to see that one of the topics was to ‘identify ways to improve and enact strong enforcement licensing laws for shops, pubs and clubs’. I’m sure that some campaigners would like to see all sales of alcohol prohibited but that is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future. It is sad therefore that properly run pubs are not being recognised as safe and controlled venues for drinking. They are not the problem, they are part of the solution. It is, I think, worth noting that, as recorded by the Office for National Statistics, the Metropolitan Police saw a 43% increase in drugs offences during the lockdown period so it was not just alcohol that saw an increase in abuse at this time.
IN A PICKLE
Here’s another contribution to our cuisine from the gastronomes of Glasgow. I’m sure that you have all seen those jars of large pickled onions in fish & chip shops. Have you ever wondered what they would be like battered and deep fried? Amandeep Singh, proprietor of the Codfather chippy in Cambuslang gave it a go and they have been well received by his customers. As well as having a crisp batter, the onion itself apparently retains its crunch rather than going soggy.
Compiled by Tony Hedger