I have never fully appreciated the need for pubs, probably because my visits to them have been infrequent; rare, some might say.
Neither have I bought into the mantra that “pubs and bars (is there a difference?) sit at the heart of every community”.
Okay, that’s a quote often trotted out by people who run a “local” in remote areas and see their businesses struggle.
This week, that hackneyed phrase came from the lips of a man called Ivan Menezes, who, you may not be surprised to learn, is the chief executive of Diageo, which is one of the world’s biggest drinks corporations.
So, this “heart of the community” nonsense loses traction because it is uttered by a man whose job depends on his organisation selling booze – lots of it – to, er, pubs and bars.
Even so, surely the attraction of a pub isn’t that it is some kind of community centre where arguments can simmer and fights can, and often do, develop on or off the premises.
A pub is a business. It is there to turn a profit.
Nothing wrong with that.
It exists to sell alcohol, which generally makes consumers convivial, happy, or sleepy.
Many of us have enjoyed the sociability part of visiting a “heart of the community”, although there are communities which have an over-abundance of hearts.
But if bars were there to flog soft drinks – “I’ll have a pint of your finest beer, and make it ginger” – they would be empty and have been increasingly so thanks to cheap supermarket offerings.
We never hear anyone announce: “I’m off down the pub for a couple of glasses of lemonade and to speak to the committee about the blocked drain outside number 24.”
Diageo has launched a fund called Raising The Bar to help pubs recover from the crippling costs of Covid-19.
In Scotland, £4m will be available for bar owners, which includes a commitment to contribute to the local community.
There’s that word again – community.
Pupils face tough time upon return
When Scotland’s schools return to normality, many pupils will have forgotten how to study.
The findings of a survey by the teaching union, the EIS, shows head teachers and deputies are concerned about the low participation in home learning during the lockdown.
More than a quarter of Scots pupils are doing no schoolwork at all or less than an hour a day.
Of course they are – how else would they fit in watching YouTube, checking Instagram or Zooming with their pals?
In time, young people will recognise they have been penalised by the current crisis.
“The dreaded virus ruined my education,” they’ll scream when their grades arrive after the next exams, assuming the system isn’t dumbed down once more.
Meanwhile, parents all over Scotland will be praying at the altar of Education Secretary John Swinney, thanking him for his unexpected change of heart in deciding to reopen schools on August 11 and preventing an onslaught of nervous breakdowns.
Businesses hit hard by high street plan
Three years ago, a five-year plan was launched to “restore the majesty” of Aberdeen’s main street.
They called it the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, or Cars.
It means a grant fund of £2.4m is available to owners of eligible buildings for repairs, restoration and refurbishment.
Today, businesses are closing , partly because of a new scheme – Cause – Cars Aff Union Street Essential.