Come October

It’s National Cask Ale Week! A perfect time to talk about why so many pubs are closing.  This is one of a series of beer poems I wrote this summer.

The Dog and Duck, Highmoor, Oxfordshire


Come October

we’ll be giving up the lease
on this place; calling time, ladies
and gentlemen, please. No-one drives
these country roads for beer, in case

they’re breathalysed. There’s not much call
for food, and you can’t build a trade
on crisps and nuts and lemonade. I’d say
it’s getting tougher every day.

The Brewery will want to find
another tenant; so they’ll start the rent
real low, but turn the screw
by raising it at each review,
until there isn’t any margin left
however good the management.
It’s no loss to them. They sell their bottled beer
in supermarkets at a higher price

than they can charge you here for draught;
no buildings – and no landlords – to maintain.
You’re right, it makes no sense;
with cask-conditioned ale,
its proper point of sale is in a pub.
Eventually, they’ll kill the licensed trade;
this place will go for Residential,
it’s worth more to the Brewery

dead than alive. The old Red Lion,
the Crown, the Dog and Duck, the Sun,
the Carpenters, the Cherry Tree,
the Fox, the White Horse, the Lamb;
sold off for asset-stripping, one by one.
Why should they care if pubs survive?
The taxman’s duty escalator adds
five pence a year on every pint;

nice that the cocktail-swilling Chancellor
decides what we can all afford to drink
on our nights out. So tell me this;
if they want a Big Society
then where’s it going to meet?
Are we building our communities at home,
when we grab cheap cans of lager from the fridge,
log in to Facebook, watch TV?

And we’ll be looking for another job
come October.

If you care, support CAMRA with their campaign to stop the duty escalator on beer, and preserve the local pub.

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