Sunday 17 May 2009

The panopticon pub

On Friday me and the lovely Lisa popped down to the Jolly Farmer in Worplesdon. This is one of our favourite local pubs. It's a bit posh and foody but it serves and excellent pint of pride and the pub actually has some character. 

As I was sitting there enjoying my pint I started pondering about why this pub was more pleasant than most. An obvious point was that we were in a small room off from the bar with only four seats in so it actually felt a bit cosy, which made a pleasant change from the drinking in a barn atmosphere all too common in pubs.

As I understand it the reason so many  pubs are open plan now is so it's easier for the staff to keep an eye on you. Wetherspoons also have their famously strict no hats policy so they can film your face, which occasionally results in grannies being bounced.

At this point I paused in my pondering to look round and see if we were under surveillance. And sure enough though we weren't on camera there was a big curved mirror so the bar staff could keep an eye on us. Even here we were being watched. 

Why do you need to be constantly watched when you're in a pub? The idea of the 'panopticon', where you could be seen by the authorities at all times, was for prison design. Are we all now considered like criminals when we go to pubs? A pub landlord did recently win a fight against being forced to have CCTV cameras in his pub but sadly this seems to be the exception rather than the rule nowadays. 

The panopticon: it wasn't meant to be a blueprint for pub design

1 comment:

  1. Of course the smoking ban which forces a large proportion of the clientele outside the walls immediately kills the panopticon concept stone dead.