For a living I manage a team of people. The Campaign for greater cooking lager appreciation isn’t a full time job; I make a living as most people do by sitting in an office and looking moderately busy whilst pissing about on the internet looking for cheap car insurance and 0% credit cards. One member of my team poked his head up from behind his computer this lunchtime and said “Friday filth?” Now this isn’t a bizarre office ritual involving the viewing and distribution of pornography, it’s the office code for “Fancy some fast food for lunch?” Basically a trip to either the chippy, MacDonald’s or the KFC. My reply was to ask him whether he fancied a beer and burger in the Wetherpoons. Mark Dredge wrote a nice blog on beer and burger matching, here, but me being a price sensitive soul notices the price disparities in the UK market. Fabpow, bitchin’ and all that. A MacDonald’s or Burger King is cheaper in the UK than other European counties. At about £4 or £5 compared to €7or €8. However cheapness isn’t an absolute, it’s a comparative. To compare I can get burger, chips & pint in the Spoons for £4.99. The burger at 6oz is bigger than anything at a fast food franchise, I can get mayonnaise on my chips (something you can’t get in UK franchises) and there is a pint thrown in.
It can’t be any good though can it? Came the reply of my erstwhile colleague. The only reply to this is “I think it’s alright, it’s a piss take to use the word gourmet on the option to put bacon and cheese on it, but you can eat worse, you can make your own mind up”, so off we trotted to the McPub. The Spoons seem to be liked and loathed in equal measure in the beer blogosphere but I am firmly in the “like” category. I like ‘em because they are not crap and pretty cheap. The best thing I ever read about the Spoons was from a market analyst writing about their share price prospects in the FT newspaper. He wrote something along the lines of “they are the place you start to drink in when you decide to no longer be taken for a mug” This of course is a reference to the price competitiveness of the chain of managed pubs. We walked past a couple of grotty looking pubs before we got to the Spoons and this particular one was a smart place with presentable, friendly and efficient bar staff. I sunk a Guinness with mine; my colleague sunk a Tuborg and we sat in a clean and pleasant area full of tables. None of the grottiness of a fast food joint that needs its tables and floor cleaning. No screaming kids eating happy meals, just a silent TV with subtitles showing Sky News as we moaned about work and discussed our weekend plans. To share the conversation my plans involve doing whatever the lady squeeze tells me to do, and my colleagues plan involves necking lager, watching football and pulling birds. All of which he appears quite good at. Arguably better than me on all 3 counts.
The burgers arrived. And if I were to be critical you don’t get a lot of chips, but the burger itself was arguably better than a burger franchise. My colleague agreed with me. That’s pretty decent he said, bugger MacDonald’s. “and you get a pint thrown in, we should come here again” he concluded.
Part of management I have discovered is mentoring those in your team. After showing him the delights of a cheap burger and pint it was time to share the knack of wandering back to the office without people knowing you’ve had a crafty Friday pint. Wrigley’s extra chewing gum. Minty fresh breath to breath over people in our tedious departmental meeting this afternoon. He’s lucky, he gets to sit at the back and piss about with his phone. I have to sit at the front with the other “managers”