Sunday, 21 April 2013

To The Manor Osborne

So we’re all supposed to be jumping for joy now that George 
Osborne has scrapped the duty escalator and cut beer duty by 1p.

Camra’s website proudly states that “The campaign is won!” 

Well pardon me if I don’t get the bunting out for the honourable member for Tatton. 

Indeed he did indeed scrap the beer duty escalator altogether and instead of the 3p rise he kindly gave us the lowest possible reduction.

But his budget was yet another nail in the coffin of the traditional British pub. 

What he actually said was “I intend to maintain the planned rise for all alcohol duties – with the exception of beer.”

Yes, wines and spirits are still going up as per the escalator. The fact that excise duty on beer has increased by 42% since 2008 is still true. Well maybe now 41.6% because of his kind donation.

It was in fact a great big slap in the face for the humble publican. The problem being that most of them, including me, didn’t envisage that he would scrap the escalator and had therefore held off applying trade price increases until the budget so they could be passed on in one go, hopefully for the year, minimising customer reaction to yet more rises. 

However, by reducing the price of a pint, customer perception will now be that beer must be reduced at the pump. But what about all the duty increases that were not passed on and absorbed by the bottom line of the businesses?

Indeed Moorhouse’s from Burnley put their trade prices up at the beginning of March. Why couldn’t they have waited until the budget? I know that some of their own pubs were waiting to see what happened. Now they are forced to put the price up at the pointy end and suffer customer dissatisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in favour of the escalator being scrapped because it was unfair and unsustainable. 
I signed the e-petition and I also wrote to my MP, Gordon Birtwistle, asking him to urge the Chancellor to scrap it. His response was typical party line stating that they are helping pubs by reducing corporation tax. I’m sorry but if you are worrying about that then you are at least making money. 

The government need to go further, much further.

The man from number 11 Downing Street said: “responsible drinkers – and our pubs - should not pay the price for the problems caused by others.” Well if he really means this then he needs to do much more than giving back a paltry penny.

I have said it before but I really think that duty should be reduced on draught beer and these reductions passed on to canned and bottles. This would mean that there shouldn’t be a reduction in the net duty take. It would also make the playing field far more level. Tesbury’s don’t sell draught beer (god forbid if they ever start) so they wouldn’t be able to undercut the pub trade for once. 

More people drinking on licensed premises would also lead to more jobs and in turn increases in income tax, VAT and beer duty being paid to the treasury. 

It really does appear that these millionaires that run our country are completely oblivious to the fact that pubs are not the cause of the so called binge drinking culture.

In my opinion we cannot sit back just because a victory was won. There is more to do.

So I say to all the fine Camra members out there that it is only the battle that has been won, the campaign must continue.

Friday, 5 April 2013

He's Not An Author, He's Just A Barman

Some of you may have heard of a friend of mine called Les Bennyness. As the title of this blog piece would suggest, he's a barman and not an author. 

Well that's not strictly true because he's had three books published and his new one will be out around New Year 2014. Its the third instalment of his memoirs and I urge you to buy volume one and two sooner rather than later so you will be ready for volume three when it careers in to town.

So to that end I thought you may be interested to read reviews of his first two issues that are available via


It's OK To Be Disappointed

Volume One 2007 - 2010

Click here to buy

This is the first book I have ever read from start to finish without putting it down in one day!

The simplest way to describe it is Adrian Mole meets Bridget Jones meets High Fidelity meets Shameless.

You really do get to see Bennyness’ inner thoughts. It will make you laugh out loud at parts and maybe even make you shed a tear at others.

This is not a literary classic and neither does it intend to be. It doesn’t intend to be anything. It is what it is.

What you get are amusing anecdotes that are juxtaposed with melancholy journal entries. Lists of things he likes and dislikes that I bet you can’t read without making notes on the page, nodding your head appreciatively or shaking it in disappointment. And some of the most original film critiques you will ever read.

Oh and you will find out what Geoff Cowburn’s favourite TV programme is!

If you know Benneyness, then you will love this book. You may even make one of the top three’s at the end of the year.

If you don’t know Bennyness then you will still love this book and you still might make the top three!

To sum up in one word, UNMISSABLE.

No New Notifications

Volume Two 2011

Click here to buy

If you haven’t read It’s Ok To Be Disappointed then I suggest you do before reading No New Notifications.

If you don’t it would be like watching Return of the Jedi without seeing Star Wars: A New Hope. It would make sense & you would probably enjoy it all the same. You would even know who all the characters were easily enough, however, you wouldn’t have the same love for them nor the back story to appreciate it as much as it deserves.

NNN basically follows straight on from IOTBD (which I described as Adrian Mole meets Bridget Jones meets High Fidelity meets Shameless)

Bennyness is still miserable and still as unlucky in love.

This book is a look in microscopic detail of a real persons inner thoughts. Bennyness pulls no punches. What he writes is straight from the heart. It’s not meant to be read by anyone else except him. It’s as if you are peering in to his deep sub-conscious through a window in the top of his ugly head! (His words not mine)

You will laugh out loud and you may (some already have) cry in parts. But you will be hooked from start to finish as he whisks you through the last twelve months of his mundane and ordinary existence.

Geoff Cowburn makes a return along with some superb projects (whoopsie, I don’t want to give anything away) that are as worthy of a TV programme as any other crack pot ideas!

If you read IOTBD then you must buy this book because you will love it.

If you didn’t, I implore you to buy it and read it first then you MUST buy NNN.

An essential read for 2012.

I can’t wait for Volume 3! 

Draw Yourself A Happy Face

Volume Three 2012 - 2013 

Coming Soon!