‘We should all raise our spirits and back our local pubs for the good of the trade’ – Fiona Phillips

What have you got planned for this weekend, I wonder? A nice walk or a drive? Lunch/dinner out, so that someone else can cook and clear up for a change? Visiting relatives? Maybe you’re celebrating a birthday.

Whatever you’re doing, may I suggest that you include a visit to your local pub at some point?

It’s a bit of a plea, this, for the common good of the pub trade, and to let patrons into the secret of how bloody hard it is to run a decent hostelry, never mind earn a decent living (as my husband and I found out when we tried it for a while).

How, sometimes, trying to get a punter to pay their tab is like trying to convince a Liverpool fan to support Man Utd.

How nigh-on impossible it is to please everyone, how difficult it is to almost have to parent certain drinkers – and staff! – for their own good, or to prevent a punch-up after way too much beer’s been supped.

How hard it is to persuade drinkers new to red wine that a full-bodied Shiraz is deffo not a tipple to start with.

And a WHOLE bottle for just one Shiraz newbie means the gents’ loo has to undergo a deep clean and sometimes a complete makeover in the middle of peak customer flow.

To be fair, though, I do think it might have been the ladies – who know only too well how pricey decent loo roll can be – that regularly snuck a couple of rolls up their jumpers, or in their shopping bags, because Andrex disappeared like lightning as soon as it was replaced.

In the end we moved on, with a huge renewed respect for those who devote their lives to running a pub – because that’s literally what you have to do to keep one going.

I knew this because my grandad and my brother were publicans. The only time we saw them was behind the bar. Yet, despite the hard work, one in five pubs now face closure. So make sure you visit your local this weekend. I’ll see you at the bar… and I won’t be nicking the loo roll!

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