Is a pint of plain still your only man?
It was a statement made recently by that well-known Dublin publican (from Limerick) Charlie Chalke, that got me thinking.
He was commenting on the lockdown (some call it a lockout) of all pubs a few weeks ago by the government.
While he was wholeheartedly in agreement with the decision, he did voice concerns that when this entire saga has passed, and we all return to what will then become the new norm, will we actually go back to the same lifestyle we enjoyed prior to the coronavirus?
He wondered will pub-goers return in the same numbers.
Initially, one would think, no.
In the longer term, who knows.
Now Charlie knows the pub scene better than most.
And even more importantly, knows his customers.
And in particular, their habits.
He mentioned a famous New Year's Eve experience.
Now not any New Year's Eve mind you.
But the New Year's Eve at the turn of the millennium.
Remember that one.
Hard to believe it is now over two decades ago.
Where does the time go to, I wonder.
But to get back to Charlie, and the New Year's Eve millennium.
Talk about going off the rails.
Talk about a rip-off.
This was a rip-off like never before.
There was a time when that particular night was one of the nights of the year.
If memory serves me correct, a certain political party (Blue Shirt variety) used to hold its annual shindig in Lawlor's Ballroom in Naas on that particular night.
It was one of the few occasions when a full bar was in operation at the popular venue.
And so we tagged along.
Sure why wouldn't you?
Have to say I kept the head down.
Going in at least.
Wasn't the thing to be at, from where I was coming from.
If you get me drift.
But a great night(s) nevertheless.
Packed to the seams.
But to get back to the night that ended New Year's Eve outings for ever and a day.
Of all varieties.
Black tie jobbies.
Top class restaurants booked out.
Not-so-top class restaurants booked out.
Babysitting services through the roof.
Great if your were providing them,
Not so if you required them.
Three and four hundred 'big ones' a pop.
I cod you not.
That carry-on killed off New Year's Eve celebrations.
And they have never recovered.
Enough was enough.
The populace cried halt.
The habit was broken.
Maybe for a different reason than what we face today.
But the result is the same.
The habit is broken.
And that is exactly what Charlie Chalk was suggesting.
With his publican hat firmly in place he was expressing concerns, even worries, that something similar just might happen in a few weeks/ months time.
Because the habit has been broken.
The habit of going to the pub.
And while we may not always admit it, we are (mostly) creatures of habit.
And over the last number of weeks our habits have changed.
And changed utterly.
And the six marker?
Will we return to our former habits post coronavirus?
Or we will retain, to a certain degree at least, to what has become our new habits, our new norm?
Could the entire fabric of our society change as a result of this?
Could those in the habit of going for a pint or a gin and tonic, or whatever, decide to stay put?
Enjoy a drink in the comfort of their sitting rooms.
Certainly be a lot cheaper on the pocket.
If it was to happen it would certainly be breaking the mould.
Breaking the habit.
Now when it comes to being a creature of habit, my hand would be one of the first up.
Definitely fall into that category.
And there are many.
I have no doubt, like me.
From the time one springs out of the leaba in the morning we go through the same routine.
The same habits.
Day-in and day-out.
Did you ever notice, when regulars go into their local, how many head to the same spot.
Even the same stool.
Order the same drink.
In fact if a regular, the bar person (a good one that is) will invariably have the drink ready before the posterior even begins to warm the stool.
Weekly shopping falls into the same category.
Same day, more or less same time,
And more often than not, same supermarket.
How often have we been told to change our various utility suppliers?
Electricity, gas, car insurance, health cover.
Even mortgages these days.
Yet, the number that change is miniscule.
Even though there are savings to be made.
But do we change?
Do we even enquire?
Because we are creatures of habit.
Attending church services very similar.
Time and time again people go to the same aisle.
Sit in the same pew.
Some will stand at the back.
Ready for the quick (and early) exit.
Are they rushing somewhere?
Always did it.
Why change now.
Creatures of habit.
And that is what Charlie Chalke is concerned/ worried about.
The longer the lockout (sorry, lockdown) goes on, the more folk become accustomed to it.
Things that only a few weeks ago might have been unheard of suddenly become the norm.
Heading to the pub might not be as popular (for some) in the future as it was up to relatively recently.
As mentioned when it comes to a creature of habit, I would be one of the first in the queue.
Now heading into Week 4 of the lockout (who's counting), cans, tinnies and bottles have more or less become the norm.
Not the same.
One thing will never change.
Standing at the end of the counter
With a pint of plain in the paw.
Great memories nevertheless.
I can see where you're coming from,
I understand your concerns
But rest assured.
You need have no worries.
Not from where I'm coming from anyway.
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