Funny old year, 2016, isn't it?
We've voted to leave the EU, the US presidential elections now resemble an episode of South Park, and terrorists are running amok across Europe and the world.
Time for a pint. Definitely.
Pfft. Try and get served.
Pubs, who have faced a litany of problems of late with the smoking ban, dodgy pubcos, planning rules hitting hard, now face a new challenge. Pokémon Go.
Walking into my local late on Friday evening, ok afternoon, there were not one, not two, but three staff behind the bar. All seemed slighty hyper, working with the zeal of people facing imminent dismissal, or maybe they had been sneaking a few halves in?
No. They were all chasing, hunting, not quite sure, Pokémon creatures. These staff were not 'wet behind the ears' teenagers, just out of college, en route to gap year. Some of them had children themselves. Some owned properties.
Now I have been visiting pubs for the best part of 30 years. Originally in London, and of late, Suffolk. I like to think I have done some time in pubs, lots and lots of time. But never have I witnessed anything as odd as this.
Even delivering beer to the county of Norfolk last week, driving back to Suffolk, I noticed a group of unshaven, dishevelled young men, loitering by the side of the road, often walking into it. A busy, main road. Slowing down considerably for fear of injuring these poor, wretched souls, I looked closer and all were clutching smartphones, looking quite delirious. Pokémon.
So, just a week or so into these Pokémon phenomenon, my local has now turned itself into a 'Pokéstop' where one can go to find these creatures.
There is no doubt this is a challenging time for the pub industry, but will this be a gamechanger, something to lure those punters back in? Or will be yet another death knell in the coffin for our traditional boozer? Time will surely tell, but in the meantime if you are parched, at the bar, puzzled by the scenes around you, you are not alone.