Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tales From My Local

One of the downsides of control of my old local pub being wrested from the 'lanlord from hell', who blighted it for several years, driving out the old regulars (myself included), is that, as well as former customers like me and my old drinking cronies returning, so has at least one of the old pub bores. You know the sort - an opinion on any subject being discussed, (regardless of whether they were part of the conversation or not), always expressed as unchallengeable fact, backed up with 'facts' which are actually received wisdom from the Daily Mail, and a tendency to shout down any dissenters. (A bit like reading my rantings on this blog - except you have the option to click away at any point). Now, usually I just try to ignore this type, or just endure their gibberish, drinking my pint and thinking of England (or anything) as they talk at me. Increasingly, if we're the only two in the bar, I take refuge behind a newspaper. However, last night I finally lost my rag and told the bore in question, (let's call him 'Ted', not his real name, but close enough), that he was talking bullshit. I'd forgotten how much his ilk hate people coming back at them and challenging their 'opinions'. He was quite taken aback. His response, naturally, was to go on the offensive and shout me down. At which point I re-iterated my point and ignored him - meaningful argument with the Ted's of this world is impossible. They only want to hear their own voices.

The issue which set me off was the forthcoming budget and cuts in the public sector. As a public sector employee I really do get sick to death of the bollocks I hear spouted on the subject by the ignorant. I know that, according to this government, we're the root of all evil, that the budget deficit is the result of our exorbitant wages and 'gold plated pensions', but the reality is that all of that is just shit. The vast majority of civil servants earn well under the national average wage, and to get those 'gold plated pensions', you have to work for the civil service for at least forty years. Oh, and those pensions are projected to account for less than 2% of GDP over the next twenty-odd years. Now, I'm not going to repeat the whole of my 'argument', such as it was, with Ted, but the flashpoint for me was when he came out with the crass statement that it would be better for the economy if all these civil servants were on the dole. Quite apart from the sheer offensiveness of wanting to destroy people's livelihoods, this was such a patently idiotic pronouncement, (a lot of the current deficit is the result of having to pay unemployment benefit to people made redundant in the recession, with no sign of he economy recovering sufficiently to create new jobs for them, creating yet more unemployed really wouldn't be better for the economy. Moreover, it would further contract the tax base and reduce the spending power of potential consumers of products produced by any recovery), that I had to say something. Mind you, I think what really upset him was the bit that came between the two 'bullshits'. I pointed out, rather forthrightly, that I had no sympathy for people in the private sector whose pensions had been mismanaged by their employers and now wanted to see our public sector pensions similarly destroyed. After all, I pointed out, they'd had the same opportunity as the rest of us to gain employment in the public sector - it wasn't our fault if they were too thick, idle or unskilled.

Like many pub bores, Ted is self-employed. The reason that self-employment is so prevalent in this demographic is that these people are, to put it bluntly, otherwise unemployable. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that they're stupid, lazy or unskilled, it's just that, in the long run, they aren't the sort of people anybody would want working for them. You can just imagine what they're like to try and manage - impossible. They're always right. They won't take criticism, they won't take advice, they are incapable of following instruction which conflicts with their preconceived ideas of what they should be doing. Most of all, thy are utterly resistant to change. After all, that would mean conceding that someone else might actually know more than them. For similar reasons, they are equally impossible to work for. Consequently, like Ted, they become self-employed one man bands. Of course, in their own minds, this makes them somehow superior to the rest of us dumb wage slaves who, unlike them, don't generate wealth and contribute to the economy, (as they see it). The fact that they rarely make any real contribution to society themselves is irrelevant - making money is all that matters. However, generally speaking, the only opportunity that have to express their disdain for us and assert their superiority is by trying to monopolise any conversation in the saloon bars of pubs. Unfortunately, the narrow view of life forced on them by their specialisation in serving some tiny niche market, generally means that their 'opinions' are based upon ignorance and reinforces their inability to appreciate anyone else's viewpoint. I suppose what I'm trying to say, in short, is shut the fuck up Ted and your ilk, as you are ruining the drinking experiences of the rest of us. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that it is people like you who are putting pubs out of business, by discouraging drinkers like me, who just want a quiet pint and a chat with their mates!

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