My lockdown pub crawl (of sorts) in solidarity with landlords

If you ask lots of people what social activity they’re missing most during the lockdown, you’ll hear a pretty resounding answer: “going to the pub”. I’d give exactly the same answer (the gym is second on the list, natch).

Having a few pints in one of Cheltenham’s many welcoming inns is one of my favourite things to do. Whether it’s admiring the many pineapples decorating The Swan, sitting in the garden of The Railway or watching football in the Frog and Fiddle, it wouldn’t usually be long between visits for me – until the past few weeks.

I was so desperate to visit some of them again that I went on a sort of virtual pub crawl last week (see my Twitter thread here). It was lovely to peer through the windows of a few places in and around the town centre – I could almost taste the pint of Deya Steady Rolling Man that I was longing for.

But the experience filled me with joy and sadness in equal measure. I wasn’t just sad because I couldn’t go in, but because I’m fearful that an industry already at risk has been put further in jeopardy by Coronavirus.

We all appreciate that social distancing needs to happen at this difficult time and some freedoms will be curtailed, but equally the big PubCos need to recognise that hard-pressed landlords need support. Initiatives like the #NoPubNoRent campaign have helped and big strides are being taken. They raise awareness that this hugely important industry is under threat and jobs and livelihoods are at stake – including those working in pub supply chains.

It’s ace that our own pubfan Daisy Cooper has shown our party is backing landlords by tabling an EDM. My displacement activity will be nowhere near as effective, but I hope it struck a chord with a few people. Moreover, I hope we will all be able to do our bit by speaking up for one of our nation’s most precious traditions and (in due course) returning to our locals in greater numbers than before.

Cheers!

* Max Wilkinson is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham. He was the candidate at the 2019 general election and is a councillor on Cheltenham Borough Council and the authority’s cabinet member for climate emergency.

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