Saturday, 25 October 2008

The Continental

A few words about alcohol this month. A subject that I feel qualified to write about since sneaking into the ‘Men Only’ snug at The Swan in Yardley, Birmingham at the age of 15. The Swan was the largest pub in Europe at the time but has now been knocked down – interesting fact number one.

I have no interest in The Continental other than as a consumer. If, indeed, a Pub can be viewed as just a seller of commodities. But I seem to remember in my very first column that I bemoaned the lack of pubs in the area and the fact that pubs in general had lost the plot in what they were trying and failing to sell. They hadn’t done any market research as to what would attract me away from the delights of Meath Road on a wet September evening.

Equally I recall my first visit to Broadgate back in the winter of 1995 and passing the windows of The Continental as I tried to find an area of Preston in which to live. I was smitten when I saw a comfortably crowded pub with all parts of society chatting away, reading books and reading papers. It was great. And eventually Tess the dog agreed and would automatically turn right on the way back from our walks.

Which brings me to the reason for these words i.e. the re opening of The Continental in August. I went with Jed, Ann and Val on a Friday night and mid way during the evening one of us said something like ‘this is what it used to be like’. And we all agreed.

No big screen, no noisy one arm bandits, no pool, no loud music. Comfortable chairs, a selection of quality beers, a background hum of conversation. This is what a local should be about. I stress again that I have no connection with the owners or management of the pub.

I also have no connection with the management of the new Pavilion in the Park. If I had I would have argued long and hard against them putting in for an alcohol licence. An alcohol license for 7 days a week and from 1000hrs in the morning till 2000hrs in the evening.

I haven’t got a problem with people having a traditional picnic in the park with a hamper and a tartan blanket. But I do have a problem with this application. I just don’t believe that it will be a case of a small glass of sparkling Californian white and a cucumber sandwich. It will be all day drinking in the park and then a short cut through Broadgate home. No thank you.

At the BRAG/PACT meeting several people raised the problem that the Pavilion needed a licence if it was to host weddings or special events. Everyone realised that this was necessary as it is a beautiful setting for such occasions and such applications for one off events should be encouraged. It is the 7 day,10 hour license that was worrying.

The more observant of you will have noticed that the spelling of the word ‘license ‘ varies through this column. There is a reason for this.