Friday, November 28, 2008

I had this odd moment yesterday evening. It was on of those rare moments which can be either wonderful or horribly scary when, you know, everything around you suddenly seems to stop, go into slow motion, and you have a realisation; a penny drops; your vision becomes clearer. A bit like when you realise your car has hit ice and gone into an uncontrollable spin and you think you're going to die, you're completely out of control and it all stops and you're OK. Everything seems strangely clear and crisp and fresh; or the moment you come to understand a math problem at school that meant nothing and suddenly it all makes sense and you wonder why you didn't get it before.

Well I was in a chat with a few people at the George Canning and the conversation turned to Sociopaths and how no one really noticed the man who has been raping his daughters because no one in social services could believe that anyone could behave so inhumanely towards their own. I heard this explanation of how a totally socially dysfunctional person could go among the population overlooked and not identified and... BAM! That's it! The answer to how it's all happened to the tied pub trade in the last fifteen years.

EXACTLY the same kind of general societal oversight happens when it comes to pubcos and their lessees. No one can believe that it makes any kind of sense for a big business to totally abuse its position of power over a small business (i.e. the pubco tenant) for the sake of short term gain when the long term success of the big business, logically, is entirely dependent on the long term good health and well being of the small business.

There is a direct analogy to be made here. The pubcos have a loose scrutiny placed on them from the outside; really no one is in a position to rein them in when they are being too heavy handed. The whole business from top to bottom is a patriarchy when you think about it. The pubcos emerged out of an old fashioned outdated paternalistic environment that wasn't fit for purpose in the 20th century. The lawyers and accountants who came into the fold were able to do alchemy with profits - at the sole expense of the lessees - and no one was around to say 'hang on, this is wrong'. And the lessees were effectively like children with no voice and no power. And the pubcos got away with it and put up the rents and the wholesale prices until the pubs were no longer viable. And here we are.

Sociopathically ruined by a few big wigs in ivory towers who are protected by power, money and law, people who are unimaginably wealthy on the back of fleecing thousands of people more capabel than themselves - but more capable in a more humane, down to earth way. I sincerely hope they are brought to account for the ruination they have brought to the most fundamental glue of our society, the most defining aspect of our culture, the most easily identifiable thing that states: the British are like this, something which is capable of transcending religion, class, age, sex, cultural and racial boundaries and bringing people together - the ordinary pub, Britain's very own already existing'cafe culture' which everyone has taken for granted for far too long...

Happy Christmas.

Actually I read Bertrand Russell's 'Why I am Not A Christian' when I was about thirteen and I have a feeling that is why I am uncomfortable about saying 'Happy Christmas' at the end there. If pubcos exist how can there be a god?

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