Wednesday, 12 April 2017


'Fun Pubs', written in 1994, continues the theme of It Used To Be A Pub by having a good old rant at the way breweries and pub owners in the 80s and 90s slavishly followed the trend of converting traditional old-fashioned pubs into playrooms for the younger element.
The phenomenon hit Middlewich in the early 90s when the Red Lion was wrecked and turned into the hideous Cat's Whiskers.
The generic name for such dumbed-down establishments, now thankfully passed into history, was 'Fun Pubs', a term which gives you the same feeling of foreboding as 'Fun Run', 'Fun Size', 'Fun For All The Family' and all the other not much fun Fun Stuff.
Because the simple truth of the matter is that fun can't be manufactured. You know when you're having fun, but nothing and nobody can make you have fun. And sticking the word 'fun' in front of anything makes it less and not more likely to have the desired effect.
The most grotesque use of the 'fun' motif came from former Signal Radio DJ Lee Finan whose 'fun show' we used to listen to when I worked at ERF (and before you ask, I would have preferred Radio Four but was out-voted - a grave miscarriage of justice, since it was my radio).
Lee Finan's broadcasting style at that time made me want to shove my hand through the radio speaker and grab him by the throat. 
'Hey! Good afternoon! We're all having fun!' he'd shout, along with other inanities and, sitting in front of the computer (some things don't change), I would try to resist the urge to phone him and shout back at him  something like: 
'Listen! We're not having fun. I'm not having fun. I've got a stinking cold. I've got tons of work to get through and I've got parts distributers, parts managers, foremen and all kinds of other idiots on my back. I'm NOT having fun. I want to go home...'
Words to that effect, at any rate.
Lee's still on the radio, I believe, and we can only hope that advancing age softened his style. That's me being diplomatic.
Fun Pubs was picked up by no less a body than the Campaign For Real Ale. Their Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre branch asked me if they could re-publish it in a little publication called Piers & Pints.
I readily agreed, of course. The original idea was that I would go along to some kind of reception in Blackpool to recite the poem, but it never happened.
A pity really, because everyone knows that a more fitting name for Blackpool would be Middlewich-On-Sea.
When you go there and take a stroll along the prom, every other person you meet is from Middlewich, their all having got there 'on Niddries' (or whatever coach operator has now taken on the Niddries mantle).
Fun Pubs has dated a little bit, with its references to 'baseball caps worn backwards for some reason' (a 'mind-virus' identified by psychologists. Someone, somewhere, decided to wear his baseball cap back to front, and in no time nearly everyone was doing it, giving them all the opportunity to look like total pillocks). 
Baseball caps are now more the preserve of middle-aged men trying to keep the sun and rain off their thinning locks. I've got one.

The lines

I don't object to scruffy pubs
I've even been in stuffy pubs
Where Councillors keep going on
About the Chairman's Ball

were substituted for the original, wildly politically incorrect, wording at the insistence of the editor of the T&G Record who first published the poem.
On a technical note, I do realise that 'where the clientele are from from sane', should read ' far from sane', but this is another one of those instances, which occur frequently in poetry, where the incorrect version sounds better than the correct one.

by Dave Roberts

I DO like bright and breezy pubs
And friendly free and easy pubs
And run-down slightly sleazy pubs
And other pubs beside.

I'm fond of ornate City pubs
And spit and sawdust gritty pubs
And crossword-cracking witty pubs
But what I can't abide
Is what they call a Fun Pub,
A Take-The-Cash-And-Run Pub,
A We're-All-Cool-And-Trendy
Drinking-Lager-In-The-Sun Pub
Where gormless looking crew-cut chaps
In trainers, jeans and baseball caps
(Worn backwards for some reason)
Sport their suntans from the Med.,
Drink German beer and act the fool,
Play never-ending games of pool
And wouldn't know a real pub
If it hit them on the head.

I don't object to scruffy pubs,
I've even been in stuffy pubs
Where Councillors keep going on
About the Chairman's Ball.

I've drunk in pubs with clever-dicks
And psychopathic lunatics
And talked appalling nonsense,
But what makes no sense at all
Is drinking in a Fun Pub,
A We're-All-Out-To-Stun-Pub,
A Drinks-here-Cost-A-Fortune
And-We're-Sure-We're-Being-Done Pub
Where karaoke singers wail
And knock the top right off your ale,
And fruit machines and arcade-games
Pollute the air with sound,
And TV screens show videos
of boring songs that no one knows
And everyone keeps shouting
That It's Someone Else's Round.

I must admit that some pubs
Are best described as rum pubs,
Where the clientele are far from sane
And should be put away;
Some pubs are far from polished
And ought to be demolished,
But any one is better
Than a Fun Pub any day.

© Dave Roberts/Salt Town Productions 2011

First published on THE ODD EXCEPTION 4th December 2011

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