Tuesday 15 October 2013

Slops revisited

I wrote a post 6 weeks ago, called Pouring the slops back into the beer, which was a general account of how hygiene in pubs has considerably improved in recent years. I cited one exception, the autovac, a device used in some Yorkshire pubs for recycling beer from drip trays back into the lines. I was slightly surprised to receive a comment 6 weeks later from a Yorkshireman who bravely wrote anonymously what he clearly thought was a defence of the autovac. Except, strangely enough, it wasn't.

He didn't respond to any of my observations about or objections to the autovac, including my point that the pint would actually be more flat with the recycled stale beer, despite the thick, foamy head. His argument was solely along the lines of: you outsiders keep your noses out of our business.

I did ponder for all of a millisecond whether I was interfering in other people's business, but decided I was not. Yorkshire is part of the UK and I am a British citizen: Yorkshire is a part of my country, a part of the UK I happen to like very much and where I've gone on holiday at least once a year since the 1980s. I have no problem with good natured regional rivalries, such as Lancashire and Yorkshire, but the attitude shown by Mr Anon bordered on the xenophobic.

I came across a similar attitude recently with someone I know over the question of Scottish independence when it became clear we had very different attitudes. I was asked how I had the nerve to comment on issues concerning his country. My response was that Scotland is still part of the UK, and that as I'm a British citizen, it is part of my country too. Actually, even if that weren't the case, I'd still have a right to an opinion.

What I find slightly disturbing is the attitude that, "This is ours, not yours - how dare you have a view about it?" It is one way of avoiding arguing the substantive issue concerned and an attempt to close down discussion; in fact, it could be interpreted as a form of on-line bullying. As I pointed out to Mr Anon, I’ve often noticed the most aggressive comments on blogs, like the most aggressive letters to the newspapers, tend to be anonymous. In this case, as the post concerned is 6 weeks old, I'm wondering whether he was trawling the internet looking for things to be offended about.

Intelligent debate and disagreement are fine. The "How dare you say that!" attitude* assumes a right to censor others' views because the issue concerned is "theirs". Sorry, Mr Anon, you don't have that right: no one does. And the autovac is still disgusting.

* Reminds me of a prime minister; can't think which.


  1. I'm happy to steer clear of buying dirty beer from dirty pubs. Best thing to come out of yorskshire? The M62

  2. That sounds like fighting talk, Cookie, and I'm speaking as an impartial southerner!

    (I'd better qualify that. I'm impartial over regional differences and rivalries, but not impartial over unhygenic devices such as the autovac!)

  3. I fully agree with CL's first sentence. As I said before, I often go to Yorkshire, and none of the pubs I've gone to uses the autovac (I usually check), whereas it was quite common in the past. From that I assume its use is declining.

  4. A significant number of West Yorks pubs do still use autovacs

  5. In the interests of balance, I am providing this link to the only defence of the autovac I've come across, and even this recognises the hygiene problem.


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