The Plastic Cup

Angry doesn’t quite cut it.

Livid is closer, but add a dash of rejection, a shot of belittlement and mix it with a large glass of feeling right royally cunted off for a pint of Heineken UK shandy.

The conversation I’ve just had with their telesales puts in a nutshell everything I’ve been ranting about: We small operators do not matter. We’re a pain, a hindrance. We’re an irksome drop on the delivery schedule; a tick-in-the-box on a rep’s timesheet. We’re a thin slice of the pie chart, the yellow moor below the red mountains on the flow chart and a high maintenance one at that.

We’re nothing to them

As you can tell I’m fucked off.

Why?

Because on the day of England playing in a World cup semi-final, and 4 days before a potential final for our national side, Heineken UK have limited how much I can buy from them to around half of our normal levels for a week like this.

Half!

Don’t panic. We won’t run out of beer, at least not all beer, as we run with high stock levels in case of unforeseen circumstances, but they don’t know that and many publicans don’t have the luxury of decent cash flow to tide them over any potential draught-droughts because their margins and trade have been squeezed by competition from the big boys – the same big boys who will probably have no problem placing a big order, the same big boys who don’t normally show the football, the same big boys who don’t give a toss about customer care or personal attention. They don’t care because if one punter decides that having to converse around giant menus offering Britain’s beigest ready-meals to the homogenised and the brainwashed, in a room with all the atmosphere of a bowls club reunion isn’t actually doing it for them then another McDonalds drinker will glibly take their place.

And so the plastic quadrennials will flock to the temporary screens at the Cathedral pubs to wear their plastic hats and drink from their plastic pots singing Vindaloo and slagging off Raheem Sterling because that’s what England fans do; until we score then they’ll throw it away, blow it away because they know they can pay.

But I remember…

I remember when it was fair. I remember when there weren’t drinking warehouses. I remember when it wasn’t fashionable to support England. I actually remember England games when no blokes had their faces painted and none of the women had their nails done in the George Cross. And I remember when people didn’t throw their beer in the air on purpose because they saw people do it in Birmingham on Facebook.

I’m angry now. I’m angry at the way this trade I love is going. I’m angry at how the type of pub that I love is dying. I’m angry at the apathy from above and below about all of this.

Until tonight when I hope to be cheering an England win in a real pub, covered in real beer, spilled accidentally by a real fan from a real glass.

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