Mistaking whimsy for wisdom and hierarchy for help, we’ve let forced quirkiness create a ‘bored-geoisie’ that’s incapable of operating independently. And it’s ruining pubs too.
In this, an age of Happy-To-Help and Mary Portas and assisted shopping and assisted suicide, ‘help’ is a nightmarish obligation that we dare not refuse. We’re told what to do and how to do it and whatever we did beforehand is preceded by something vague, something tough, with enough machismo to make mundanity seem meaningful. Words like Mega, Ultra, Meta and Gastro tumble like gymnasts on to our laps and we make them do flips and bend their legs until they’re a twisted and futile banality.
The Gastro-pub is a product of such forced help and equally, a product of a middle-class magpieism that places façade on a pulpit and whimsy by its side. The two operate in cahoots, creating a bogus industry based on a quaint aesthetic and an implicit, belittling hierarchy.
Our blistering obsession to be part of this blooming ‘bored-geoisie’ sees us treat our natural pragmatism as a fungible good and we become dazzled by glitter and gloss; whether that’s in the shape of funky uniforms and painted grins or in overly elaborate menus; ice cream cocks and marshmallow pig’s arse. We accept what’s offered to us through this mandatory assistance and disregard the phoniness of it all; the shimmer, the silliness, the stupor.
What started of as a spark of business-based eccentricity, intended to make restaurants et al ‘fun’ has descended into a lull of normality and though deeply bewildered by the Gastro-pub, and inventions of its ilk, we tell our friends and take our children and in the period between a Channel 4 special and a Sunday Times feature, everyone’s going to Gastro-pubs and everyone’s eating ice cream cock, looking out a frosted window, desperately, for more help.
The pub is no longer a place for man and woman. The pub, like everywhere else, is a place for those whose hands want to be held, for a peculiar breed of cosmowankers willing to forgo any autonomy in their sorry lives, in exchange for a Knickerbocker Glory served in a stiletto and the chance to sit their offspring in front of flat screens and spoon-feed the brats duck breast and conceit.
The chilling aftermath of such fake aid and faux-quirkiness creates a levelling in industry in which excessive imagination goes from an aspiration to an obligation. Thus clumsily giving way to cuddly chains of curly font and a transparent coy commercialism.
With one hand on your shoulder and the other holding a crayon, we’re supposed to believe that this new trade of fanciful sham gives a sugar-coated shit about us.
Patronising figures like Heston Blumenthal, celebrity chef and testicle in a Torque, tend to tell tales of their intervention, innovation and playful juvenility creating a calmer, cuter atmosphere and a pub or place for the modern family. Conversely, their pre-occupation with softly-softly denigration invents a society stripped of edge; a collage of quiet colour drifting in a twee-dream towards an inevitable crash of consciousness
The apocalypse is coming: a gastropocalypse. Bring an ice cream cock.