Thursday, 5 January 2012

That Was The Year That Was …

January saw England win the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 23 years. The Arab Spring starts in Tunisia. The Metropolitan Police re-opens its investigations into phone-hacking.

Pubs face up to the hefty increase in VAT to 20% as industry reports indicate that it could cost up to 8,000 jobs … over a thousand of you download my free VAT increase calculator … hope it helped!

February and Barclays Bank admits to only paying £113m in UK taxes on a £11.6bn profit … “you say to-mar-to, I say tom-a-to, you say evasion, I say avoidance”. Colin Firth bags an Oscar for the King’s Speech, whilst Gadaffi desperately clings to power.

SIBA (the independent brewers’ organisation) reports that indie-brewers are flourishing with over 40% reporting an increase of 8.8% in volumes despite a UK downturn in barrels brewed overall of 3.9%

March definitely came in like a lion with the earthquake off Japan’s coast, the ensuing tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima. By the time we saw the Aides of March (15th) it was only 500 days until the 2012 London Olympic Games and UK forces were actively engaged in attacking Gadaffi’s military at a reported cost of £1.75bn – good to see that HMG has that much to spare now other spending cuts have started to take effect! The euro-debt crisis deepens with a £21bn bailout for Ireland … and look another £7bn of "savings" get spent out!

RIP Elizabeth Taylor.

Pubs and brewers reel at the continued beer duty escalator as good old George imposes an eye-watering 7.5% increase in beer duty … way to go to stimulate the pub trade George!

April and we’re all asking “What the frack was that?” … or the residents of Blackpool were as minor earthquakes shake the area. Greece is set to get a 110bn-euros bailout, Wills and Kate get spliced and Charlie Sheen goes into melt-down live on stage.

Just when you think you’ve got enough red-tape to deal with whilst running a pub the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill gets its second reading in the Lords.

May, after 10 years of waiting and 40 minutes of gunfire it’s Bang Bang You’re Dead for Mr Bin Laden. It’s not the end of the world as predicted by Harold Camping – everyone knows that it ends in 2012 – come on! Love it or hate it (and the Danes hate it, it would appear) as the Danish government bans the importation of Marmite and shock-horror Queen doesn’t sup Guinness on visit to Dublin brewery!

Whilst she’s there the Irish government announces a reduction in VAT to 9% to help its ailing hospitality industry … how about it George?

June’s publication of an IPPR report shows that 2/3rd of Britons think the pay gap between high and low earners is too wide – you think? “Happy Feet” – more like “Tired Feet” as an emperor penguin gets lost and turns up 2,000 miles away from Antarctica in New Zealand.

RIP Jeremy Allen the noted licensing solicitor. 

And if you hadn’t heard of BISC (the commons Business, Industry and Skills Committee) by now it announces the start of its follow-up inquiry into the pub trade.

July and The Guardian reports that the News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s phone on the 4th, by the 10th that venerable (168 years in print) newspaper closes as Rupert Murdoch abandons his bid to control BSkyB. To paraphrase dear old Oscar: “To lose one tank may be regarded as misfortune; to lose £6.3bn of assets looks like carelessness” as the MOD admits it doesn’t know where all its highly expensive toys are.

The summer rapidly turns into the Summer of House Committees and Rupert Murdoch has a flantastic time in front of the Culture Committee, as we said goodbye to Amy Winehouse and hello to the world’s newest country – South Sudan.

BISC (remember them?) roundly criticises the British Institute of Innkeeping for not publishing online the level of beer discounts available against pubco rents.

August and it’s a return to the charts for “We Predict a Riot” as civil unrest spreads from London to cities as far apart as Birmingham and Manchester. Blackberry crumbles and Twitter calls to brooms the great clean-up brigade.

In the pub world Punch formally split in two (leased and managed businesses) and promptly  saw the share price for the leased company fall to an all-time low of 9.14p, some market analysts determine that Punch is now officially a zombie corporation.

Definition of a Zombie: “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.” – does this apply to pubcos too?

September we remembered the Twin Towers ten years down the line and Manhattan was Occupied (as were cities across the globe in protest at the failure of capitalism). A big hit on the TV was “My Big Fat Gipsy Eviction” as Dale Farm was cleared at a cost of some £18m – I mean, I know bailiffs were well paid but this is ridiculous!

Meanwhile back at BISC and it’s report published this month calls for the government to introduce a Statutory Code Of Practice to curb the excesses of some pubcos.

October and Dr Fox just “doesn’t know him from Adam” (Wherritty that is) and promptly resigns. On the 5th we saw the departure from this veil of tears of Steve Jobs, a passing that many mourned, unlike the passing of Muammar Gaddafi on the 20th.

Hooray for the underdog as Karen Murphy wins an historic victory over BSkyB in the European Courts of Justice.

November saw the release of “Clueless” a movie starring James Murdoch set in the House of Commons and featuring the cast of the Commons Culture Select Committee in an everyday tale of media folk and parliamentarians. Murdoch declines to take on the role of the Godfather though!

Another landmark as long-term Youth Unemployment surpasses 1 million – well done the Coalition for a stunning 18 months in office!

RIP Gary Speed manager of the Welsh national football team.

Gee, thanks again to Mr Cameron for refusing to introduce a statutory code of practice for the pub industry as his response to the BISC report.

And so to December as Edinburgh welcomed its pandas and Cameron vetoed the Europe-wide treaty to save the euro (hands up anyone that thinks this will come to haunt him and us?) Some good news amongst the doom and gloom, though, as the Large Hadron Collidor at C.E.R.N. announced its first glimpse of the Higgs boson or sometime called god particle.

This reminds me of an old piece of graffito, which I will slightly adapt as “God is Dead” – Frederich Neitzche … “Christopher Hitchens is dead” – God. RIP Christopher - noted atheist and polemic. 

Let’s hope that 2012 is a better year, especially for the pub trade and that this time next year I don’t have to lead my review with "RIP – The Great British Pub".

If you do one thing this coming year make sure it’s that you support your local pub and your local brewer … remember if you don’t use it you lose it!

I’ll be supporting my local and many more I hope with this blog, the HOW TO RUN A PUB website  ... and with that I wish a ...

Happy New Year To You All

(P.S. my new year’s resolution is to stop using exclamation marks so much – cheers!)

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