M.E.S., "The Hardcore Pub Fella"
SELECT, September 1996
MARK E. SMITH
Grand commissar of The Fall and staunch pub habituee of some 25 years standing. Prone to sundry sour-faced complaints about poncified boozer developments.
"I started going to the pub when I was 13 -- with my dad and my granddad. I mean, it was different then... I'm quite a light drinker. They were serious about it. Now, Manchester pubs, they're all trying to go Euro...the Dry Bar and that rubbish. They're places for people who don't really know how to drink. In fact, people have forgotten how to drink. Proper pubs went a long time ago. It used to be, if you were stressed, if you'd had a row with your wife, you'd go to the pub for an hour, sit down and sort it out in your mind. You can't do that now... TVs everywhere, fucking tortilla chips. In Manchester, they've changed all the pub names... or blown them up, haha. The names have changed from, like, The Guardian, to fucking Jimmy And Paddy's Parrot And Lager Joint.
"Manchester pubs are full of people pretending to be in Oasis, wearing raincoats in July and shouting. I'm more of a vault man myself--the part of the pub that's out of the way, where all the old fellas go. It's good for me -- it brings me back down to earth. I know where there are proper pubs in Manchester, but I won't tell people where they are...
"Once I picked up this guide to Manchester for students new in town. It said go to such and such a pub in Salford and you can see Mark Smith having a drink. I'd go in and there'd be three old fellas and four lads with half a pint of lager between them sat there with their notebooks. A lot of the pubs in Manchester are drug pubs -- if you take H, then you can't drink property. That's why a lot of the young kids don't drink -- they're sniffing a bit of H and drink makes them puke, if you watch school programmes about ecstasy, they always have this old hippie explaining to ten year-olds: 'Now, heroin, that's bad; drink is bad; cannabis is OK; cigarettes are very, very bad; ecstasy is OK.' It's getting the same as America -- snorting cocaine's fine, but go in a bar by yourself and have a couple of beers and they think you're a fucking tramp.
"Allowing kids in pubs was the beginning of the end. What you have where I live are pubs with signs on the door saying no children after nine o'clock. Some people are that stupid. Imagine bringing a child in a pub after nine o'clock. I used to go for a Sunday drink, but I don't now, cos it's full of screaming kids, sat beside their parents stuffing their faces, and there's this big stink of food.
"I'm very lucky, cos the job I'm in, I can go to the pub any time. I can go to the pub, maybe go to a club during the week. In Manchester, you never go out on a weekend if you've got any brains --to pubs or clubs. I like to go out when it's quiet. It's nice to sit and have a pint without someone swearing and shouting. The thing about pubs today is 75 per cent of people in there are sad. No, not the committed boozers. The people who don't drink, they're the problem. I used to live in Scotland, and they have it about right there. They still have places where you just go for an hour or two and maybe get leathered. Like I say, I'm a serious vault man, me."