Friday, May 21, 2004

24 Hour Licensing: Or, How We Decided To Let The Country Stab Itself All Night Long

Earlier on today I caught some random numpty talking about how the pub industry should start paying for the disruption it causes. That's a whole nother rant, though. What I want to rant about here, is the mention of 24-hour licensing. It's something that's been rumoured as "going to happen soon" since I first started pub work in 2001.

Whenever pubs or alcohol are mentioned in the news these days, it always seems to be inconjunction with "must stop binge drinking". To paraphrase Bill Hicks, "there is alcohol, therefore there is binge drinking". I'm currently working for Wetherspoons, and believe me, cheap (or "respectably priced" as my manager puts it) as they are, their manager training puts emphasis on getting shite people and durnk people out of your pub. "There is alcohol, therefore there is binge drinking". Crach down on pubs, and the profits for the off trade go up...

But on one hand, the govermnent complains and blames the pub industry, and then with the other they're constantly - but silently - trying to push 24-hour licensing.

What a monumentally stupid idea. I mean, no, really, fuck off. You're mad, wrong, fucked up on big red pills and just all over STOOPID.

The first pub I ever worked in was also - at the time - the biggest pub in the centre of Glasgow, and consequently had the highest take, at arounf £50K a week. This all changed to a couple of factors: month of £1 a pint, bottle and single, which invited the worst scum of Glasgow in to get cheaply steaming; and the opening of Lloyds No. 1, the first of it's type in Scotland, and a pub which was taking a staggering £100K per week at its peak - even though it was around half the size of my pub, and not that much more expensive.

Now, thanks to the extensive trouble that occurres in Lloyds, they've found that Glasgow City Council has rejected their application for the normal license extension that most other city centre pubs have. This means that they close at 11pm every night, and between 2pm and 6pm on Sundays. They also have to have one member of staff per 10 tables and - at last count - 15 security staff on duty at weekend.

Now imagine this pub was open 24 hours.

When the nightclubs close at 1am, 2am, 3am, whatever it is around your area, there will be fighting. There will be fighting because this is what happens when people drink to excess - and it's far, far easier to drink to excess and get away with it in a nightclub than it is in a normal pub.

Now you imagine that the city centre pubs are open all night. So when you leave the nightclub, steaming, you go to the pub for a few more. Does the doorman let you in? No, cos you're pished. So there's a fight. And if you get in? Well, there'll probably be a fight anyway.

Let's look at financial facts. During the night, how many customers are you going to have? In a pub the size of The Goose in Glasgow, my first pub, we'll say less than 30 a night - excluding all the drunken nightclub fuckers who would be turned away STRAIGHT AWAY. Those 30 people a night will probably only buy one or two pints each, then head home - and if it's nighshift people then they wont be in until 6, 7, 8am. So you're paying your minimum five staff by the hour for a twelve hour shift - you couldn't realistically expect people to do half a night shift - and you'll be paying them at a greater rate, because it's night shift. On top of that you have higher utility overheads, where are you making money? Why should any pub think this is a good idea? Higher overheads, more fighting...

I love working in pubs, because its fun and sometimes exciting and sometimes dangerous and never, ever a hard job. But the day I'm asked to work in a 24-hour licensed premises is the day I go on the dole. And christ, that's just about anathema.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Late Night Shenanigans

It's 7am. I am not drunk. I am, however, working in less than twelve hours. Wahey.

The stillness of night is always my favourite time. I've never bothered my arse with this whole "regular sleep cycle" thing I've heard about. They it's quite healthy for you. I say I'll sleep when I fall over.

Probably where I get my general lack of motivation from. Being tired, unrefreshed all the time. I'd worry about it more, but I can't be bothered.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Nicotine Lament (over)

I have cigarettes now. All Is Good.

On Games

I'm one of those socially inept, weak looking outcasts called "Game Geeks" by numptys and Daily Mail readers. Apparently because I'd rather sit inside and enjoy a fascinating videogame experience than go outside and slowly bake myself in the sun, opening up my pores to the possibility of skin cancer, I'm sad and lonely.

Wrong, obv.

The thing with videogames and gaming is that it's Today's Scapegoat. It's the thing that can be used to blame society's ills away. Again, wrong, obv. It's Television, it's Rock'and'Roll music, it's Dirty Dancing. It's still a relatively new form of expression, but one that's advancing and evolving much faster than its nearest audio-visual neighbour - cinema - because there is far more technology in place in the here-and-now than there was at the beginning of the last century.

Of course, that doesn't sell tabloids. Admittedly, videogames don't sell tabloids at any point, because they're still not that important, but there's plenty of scope for shitrags like The Sun or (spit) The Mirror to have a Page 5 story about GTA3 glamourising violence against women, or that Super Monkey Ball is glamourising monkey abuse, or that Mario Sunshine is glamourising plumbers fucking off on holiday...

Videogaming is probably going to be the most lucrative and most creative arm of all entertainment industries this century. The possibilites are endless. At the moment we're stuck in front of televisions or monitors, but what about playing games in Motion Capture suits? What about when the convergence between cinema and gaming finally happens, and we get truly interactive movies?

The current level of scapegoat-ism only comes about because the naysayers and tabloid editors are exploiting the general ignorance about gaming amongst the majority of the public. When that ignorance becomes education, when my generation, when my childrens generation are the ones doing the writing, then there will be another scapegoat, something else to blame our problems on.

Becuse we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Talking About Work: 1

So I work in a largish pub in the centre of Scumdee. It's old, open now for going on seven years, and is falling to bits a little. The clientele is composed of most of Scumdee's middle-rank scum: y'see, we're cheap, but not that cheap. Old men, old women, hardeneddrinkers every single one of them. That on one side of the pub anyway, the smoking side. On the non-smoking side we actually get nice people, who come in for a meal and maybe a drink or two. It's a mix, a juxtaposition of people and personalities.

On the whole it's a fun place to work. I've only been there six months, but I've made some firm friends, including my current flatmate. However, I've never worked anywhere where there has been so much back-room backstabbing and politics. Christ. It's like a fucking minefield, every time you go in for a shift. And, lucky me, I'm the only one not involved in any of it - which means that I hear everyones complaints about everyone else and have to keep them to myself. That's a bit of a bugger.

Sometimes I just wanna cry.

Nicotine lament.

There's shit happening all over the world right now. Bad shit. All I want is a cigarette. That wont save the world, wont make the bad stuff go away, but at least I'll feel a little better.

Man, it's been hard recently. The Feyonce is currently 2000 miles away or something. I've seen her for five weeks out of the last 52, and right now this is a bad can get nicotine patches y'know. Even one of them would do.

Sometimes I wonder what I was doing, y'know. Pissed as a fart, proposing. Sometimes the thought of actually having to live with the consequences of my actions for a change scares me, just like the thought of getting married scares me. I suppose most of that fear comes from the fact that the Feyonce is Finnish...who knows where our lives will end up. She can speak her native tongue, is fluent in Swedish and English, and has basic French and German. I'm from the East End of Glasgow: I can barely speak English.

And you know, I wouldn't care a damn thing about our future if she was here with me.

Or if I had a goddamn cigarette.