Well here we are in sunny July and woohoo – some pubs are open!
We strategically left the lively over-indulgers to slurp their fill at the beer trough first as we had heard them champing at their bits and straining at the starting gate and didn’t fancy being caught up in the rush.
So we left our first foray into pub-land until last weekend in the hope that they would have worked off their initial over-indulgence.
Turns out many of them had been taking their tinnies into the accessible garden throughout lockdown so I guess really it was just the impact of having to pay a higher price for their beer…..
A few things struck me in a workish sort of a way.
I actually quite like the socially distanced tables in our pub and I really like the table service. The staff are as wonderful as ever and I love being able to be there.
But it is different….you have to go around the pub one way only, you have to book before you go so no spontaneous dropping in on the way home from a stressy day at work (Me? Never.) It feels like more of a managed event.
And the music.
Now I am the first to be irritated with the overly loud, socially prescribed Muzak that often intrudes on my quiet pint. But my local hostelry actually has quite good taste in music (for that read – they like what I like and that works for me). And I like to hear what I am listening to.
Current COVID risk assessments mean that pubs can’t have loud music as that encourages people to talk and laugh more loudly thereby shedding more potentially deadly virus droplets around the place. It does make sense.
But what we now have is an irritating whine/rattle/murmur (depending on bass content) blethering away in the background like a sulky teenager saying ‘whatever’ under their breath. Or something ruder depending on your quality of teenager.
You can’t tell if you’re listening to George Ezra or Ed Sheeran, Patti La Belle or Dido.
And it is deeply, profoundly irritating.
I said this led me to workish thoughts – and it did, in a roundabout sort of a way, dropping in on my personal gripes en route.
Some people have commented on how relieved our young people will be with things beginning to return to a sort-of normal.
Some of them however won’t be relieved.
They are just beginning to adjust to the way things are and it is all changing again.
I know that this is largely good, but, for many of them, this doesn’t always feel good.
It feels like another change on top of the last change and we have to respect how this might make them feel.
It feels different, and not like before.
For someone with a different sensory experience, the changes could feel huge. Let’s think about the sensory impact:
• Music you can’t quite hear
• Furniture laid out differently – markings everywhere telling you where to stand and to walk now that you are allowed out and about again
• The over-riding smell of santiser and cleaning products
• The sting of anti-bacterial gel on a small cut or graze
• Not being allowed to go up and greet people that you recognise in the usual way – no warm hugs
• Being surrounded by more people and strangers than perhaps they have seen for a long time.
It’s quite a lot to take in and we need to be careful about how we handle this. There is the risk of this sensory overload leading to increased anxiety.
But for now – I’ll have a pint of Peroni delivered by the wonderful bar staff and wave to my friends across a peaceful, spacious, room with my husband shining with the pleasure of seeing his pals again and my dog snoozing on my feet.