Editor’s comment: In defence of the airport pint

Pint of beer

Pint of beer - Credit: Archant

Mike Lowe argues the case for the pre-holiday tipple

You may not know this, but in That London there is actually a Ministry for the Extinction of Merriment housed in a soulless grey building in Whiter-Than-Whitehall. The brief of the uncivil servants interred therein is to snuff out anything that might bring pleasure or amusement to the British people. Hence we have constant conflicting advice on what we can eat, what we can drink, why we should wear a hard hat and hi-vis underpants before engaging in any bedroom activity and, increasingly, what we can think.

The latest target of the MEM is that long-standing British tradition, the Airport Breakfast Pint. It has long been held that once weary and stressed travellers have managed to pack the suitcases (what do you want seven pairs of shoes for?); locked up and left the house (did you turn the gas off?); gone back for any missing children (good morning, Mr Cameron); parked the car (it said ‘airport parking’ – I wasn’t to know it was a muddy farmer’s field three miles away); endured the check-in process (why do you always pick the slowest queue? – look that one’s moving much quicker); run the gauntlet of security (quick, how much is 100ml? – Boots were only selling these large bottles of conditioner); and finally staggered, frazzled and sweating, into the departure lounge, then all that effort more than justifies the immediate administration of alcohol, even if it is only 4.30am. And that’s before you notice that your flight has been delayed for eight hours for “operational reasons”.

This is why, at any airport in the land, at just about any time of day, you’ll see men wearing football shirts, beach shorts and flip-flops tucking into a full English accompanied by several pints of Guinness or lager. It is entirely forgiveable and justifiable and that is why the new, teetotal aviation minister, Lord Ahmed, needs to keep his nose out. Let’s face it – it’s the only thing that makes package holiday flights almost bearable.


As I am about to step into a potential minefield, I thought I’d better prepare the way first. So, the deputy editor and chief writer of Cotswold Life (two-thirds of the staff) are women. Three other magazine editors elsewhere in the country for whom I am responsible are women. In my previous newspaper career, I delighted in promoting women to top newsroom roles at a time when it was almost unheard of. Unsurprisingly, my wife, mother, sister and daughter are women. I am surrounded by women every day.

Credentials hopefully established, I must turn to a recent story in the Sun giving the rather splendid Whatley Manor a hard time over the wording of a job advert. The ad, for a hotel porter, read: “We are seeking people with driving licenses to join the team of front of house porters. The work involves moving luggage, moving cars, tending fires, generally taking deliveries, keeping the reception area tidy.” And at the end came the killer: “Sorry, it’s just not a role for ladies.”

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Predictably, this was picked up by someone on Twitter and led to the headline: “Posh hotel slammed for sexism”. The Sun also managed to come up with a female bodybuilder who, quite rightly, said: “A woman can train and be just as strong as a man. You can’t assume every woman is weak”. Well no, you can’t. But neither can you assume that every female applicant for the job is capable of humping kegs of lager about when the laws of probability suggest the exact opposite.

Despite the possible legal issues involved, I think that the hotel did the right thing. Yes, the ad could have been worded better, but was there any point in enticing women to respond to it only to waste their time with pointless interviews when - female bodybuilders excepted - they were doomed to fail from the off?


Confirmation that women can compete with men at the highest level comes courtesy of Sergeant Colin Norden of the Cambridgeshire police who recently described the Women’s Institute as “Britain’s biggest organised crime group”.

Yes, really.

Apparently the reasoning behind this outrageous suggestion is that the matriarchal Mafia is breaking the law by picking wild berries from hedgerows and then selling them for profit in the form of a presumably illegal substance called ‘jam’.

Is it just me, or can we spot the hand of the Ministry for the Extinction of Merriment at work here?

Follow Mike on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor