How To…Open a Prohibition Pub

Myself & my sister Jess, known colloquially (and solely) as Doodles, have been  plotting an illustrated How To…Get an Interesting Career, Guide Book.  We thought we’d indulge ourselves by giving a snip of one of the chapters here.

Story & Doodles


Its legal to sell alcohol in the UK, (you may have noticed?) But in order to do so you must have a nice (or indeed functional) building, a piece of paper from the government and be, what is known as, ‘an upstanding citizen’. In doing so, you become a Publican. You can even be the reference on someone else’s passport application, if they don’t know any doctors or teachers or managers or soldiers of God and have, as such, sunk out of situational society into the unleavened heaven of petty alcoholism. You know, a big enough drunk to mean they don’t know any ordinarys, but not so big a drunk that they don’t occasionally go on holiday. Or have cause to escape the Law. We all know these people. I have a feeling that me and (my sister) Doodles are these people. In any case, we have their sympathies at heart.

Basically, you can’t just be ‘a Person’, and start a pub. Life just does not work like that. Just starting a random pub in – like – your garden shed, or in the woods or something, is either illegal, or frowned upon or both. I dunno. I’m not an expert. And because it is probably illegal or frowned upon or both, I can’t actually recommend starting your own random pub as an option for alleviating your joblessness. But I can suggest how I myself would go about doing it. In theory. Devil’s Advocately. Allegedly. Whateverly.

I have issues with being an illegal, mostly because I’m afraid of public speaking, and as such, court rooms scare me. Its possible that prisons also scare me, but I do somehow feel that, if I spent time in one, I would soon find myself falling in love with some heart-of-gold lumpenprole, who would teach me the true meaning of life. Or at least, the true meaning of prison. Useful fodder for a human interest memoir that the good folks at The Guardian could champion to the hilt. I’d get invited to lots of liberal media parties and subsequently dump my prison hoodtser to formulate an intense love affair with Billy Bragg. I would hitherto become a bit of a minor celebrity, like Caitlin Moran, and The Guardian would get lots of column inches out of mine and Bragg’s torrid break up. They would of course, be partially ironic about it… in order to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the fact that they have been reduced to running Gossip Columns.

But in the ‘trying to be a writer’ stakes, its a big gamble.

Being frowned upon, on the other hand, is a state of affairs I have learnt to curry with aplomb. Doodles also.

IMG_4213 (1)
Prohibition Pub

So to the pub. It occurs to me that in order to make it a tasty number for the squirrel heads at Hipster Head Quarters, it probably needs some kind of ‘Theme’, and most appropriate would be Prohibition.  Of course Britain never had Prohibition.* It was one of those winky American things. But seeing as, these days, making any differentiation between Britain and America is deemed churlish… I don’t think it matters.

The most useful place to start my in theory/allegedly illegal boozer would be my garden shed. But I don’t have a garden shed, or a garden. Or a house. So I have a choice of either to manifest this ‘in theory/allegedly illegal pub’ with increasingly unrealistic abandon (and pretend I do have a garden shed. And a garden) or stick wholesomely to the theme and take my jobless, gardenless arse to the nearest abandoned woodcutter’s shed. I am, however, going to take for granted that such places exist. Doodles also.

Once we found our shed we would decorate it with a hodge podge of pseudo Prohibition paraphernalia. Mostly downloaded and printed out off of the Interweb, with some fill ins by Doodles. It would not therefore,  be a terribly realistic looking Prohibition pub, because one imagines those Crims did not advertise themselves quite so recklessly. Furthermore, they did not have the Interweb.

Then we would need some bathtub booze. Of course, booze is actually readily available, and so manufacturing it in a bathtub is highly unnecessary. As opposed to piddling about trying to turn potatoes into gin, (or Vodka, I dunno, I’m not being paid to do ‘research’), my rough calculations conclude that it is best just to buy a load of the supermarket own brand variety, on Dole Cheque Day. The stuff that people always reckon tastes like paint stripper or nail varnish remover or toilet bleach. But I’ve never tried paint stripper or nail varnish remover or toilet bleach, so these comparisons are lost on me. Or, indeed, nor have I tried nice, expensive, luverly people alcohol, so my pallet is quite imbued with tolerance to total shite.***

The idea would then be to empty our bottles into a bathtub and charge per dunk. The getting of glasses would either be a collectivisation of all the random tumblers we’ve nicked from legal pubs over the years, or indeed, we could function on a BYOT policy.

The bathtub would have to be discovered utilising the mobility and parochial wisdom of the MumClunker… from some kind of furniture graveyard. But she has days when she is heady with the scent of her Singer, after spending hours making skirts for the doll collection she is steadily founding, and so if ultimately unavailable, we’d probably just find a load of buckets.

For entertainment, I’ve got a guitar which still has five strings and I can play about four or five chords, in no particular order. Doodles has a bust up Casio keyboard which she could use, alternately, as a percussion instrument and a talking point for a Marxist consciousness raising event about the futility of modern capitalism.

Minds would be blown.

Story & Doodles.

Note: Story and Doodles take no responsibility for any illegal pubs that slip out of the ground as a result of this How To. This is merely an exercise is unremarkable creativity and wishful bohemianism, not an actual incitement to criminal silliness.

Up next…How To Be A Literary Busker, & Variations of The Theme.

You can view some of Doodles’s illustrations here and follow her own twitter @jeessebessy 


*This may or may not be true. I don’t, in fact, know.

** I’m guessing. What? This isn’t a history book.

*** That being said, come near be with a bottle of Blossom Hill and I’ll knock your fucking teeth out.

**** I won’t actually. Remember the bit about prisons? Oh and like, morality and that.


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