Wednesday 8 May 2013

What is to be done?

Pub closures are increasing. The British pub is dying.  Oh woe for the pub!  What is to be done?

I do my best.  I drink far more than the Government say I should be doing (The way I see it is - the British Pub is a threatened institution, and if I have to go to them and drink lots of beer to keep a great tradition alive, then it's a sacrifice I'm prepared to make).  But even my unwise alcohol intake cannot keep even Lancashire's pubs going by itself.

They say it's the smoking ban, or the recession, or the pubco beer tie.  These things don't help.  But in my opinion (and why else are you here if you don't want to hear it), the main reason is increasing social disapproval of public alcohol consumption.

As I've said before, a lot of bad things happened in the past.  We think we're better than we were even 30 years ago (we're not, but that's another story).  For most adults in the 1970s, the pub was a major recreational destination.  Pints were mere pennies.  Everyone socialised and they were happy, at least until enough booze was sunk to make people maudlin or fighty.   But with increased social and employment mobility, people simply knew fewer people nearby.  Certainly not well enough to go to the pub with them.  Would you want to risk being seen at your drunken worst by your barely-known neighbour?

No, best stay in and watch the TV.  And there's plenty of that these days (hundreds of channels as opposed to 3 in 1979).  Sure, you still want a drink.  Could go to the pub, but you work long hours and your wife would prefer you to be at home with her. Hooray for the £4 bottle of supermarket wine or slab of Carling.

So we reach the 21st Century, where pubgoing is an "event" rather than an automatic happening.  Beer is now lots of pennies rather than a few.  When you do go, you have two or three.  Don't want to risk being caught over the limit in the morning as your job is 25 miles from your house.  Can't go for a lunchtime pint even if you did have the time (presenteeism is everything).  Disciplinary offence now.

Everyone drinks a few less pints in the pub on average than they used to.  Pubs now are a wafer-thin margin business, and are being caught by increasing costs and decreased custom.  Of course the most marginal will go to the wall.  Welcome to Capitalism.

It goes without saying that the Upper Class Government we have does not approve of the plebs drinking, but who needs prohibition or even exorbitant taxation when you can simply create a social climate that frowns upon drinking with other people?

I care not what others think of me.  Anyone who has seen what I wear will attest to that.  But humans are creatures of fashion and herd mentality. Who wants to be seen doing what is simply not done?


  1. That's an important point - even very moderate alcohol consumption is becoming socially unacceptable in public, unless you're on that big weekend night out. People just don't pop into pubs for a quick one or two like they used to.

  2. Then there's the fact the working classes (the primary users of pubs) these days tend to work in "service industries" with somewhat atypical hours. A lot of supermarket workers now work until 10, 11, midnight. No time to go really, and it's not like you can have one before work...

  3. Yes, a lot of drinking used to revolve around the workplace, at lunchtimes and after work, and if that is fragmented it will inevitably hurt pubs.

  4. Being freed from having to go to the pub at lunchtime and socialise at work is one of the great modern work based liberations. Like the death of the suit and tie, and as far as i can see the government have more to fear from us, than us of them, so who cares what Dave & Gideon approves of?

  5. Thankfully, I do not socialise with anyone I work with. In fact, I travel for an hour to go to pubs in a city 20 miles away so I don't have to risk running into them.

    I will believe in the death of the suit and tie when they let me wear my paisley shirts at work.