|Once Cathy Price had visited, there was no reason to stay open|
A common complaint of the, shall we say, more senior of the pub commerariat is that "Pub Culture" is dying. Hundreds of them close every year, and the amount of drinks sold in the on-trade has been decreasing for over two decades. Some will blame the smoking ban, some high prices and others an aging demographic.
But most likely the reason is this : Most people don't want pubs anymore.
The reasons for the current density of pubs in towns and cities areas are many, and lie mainly in the 19th Century. Then, Britain had an increasingly large urban population, brewers that could turn out large amounts of palatable beer, and a much more relaxed attitude to alcohol consumption than we see today. Then as now, running a pub wasn't exactly the path to riches, but it did provide a reasonable living.
Over the last 50 years, many things have changed. Some for the better and some for the worse. But the main thing is the growth in media and communications technology. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, most people had to rely on other people for entertainment. The pub was where you found people, and many pints were sunk every night in between tellings of tales of decreasing veracity. And that was good, everyone got well socialised and they were used to the alcohol consumption. But then people bought their first TV, and the pub had competition.
Of course, now we have a media world people in the 1960s would barely comprehend. Facebook, YouTube, Skype, thousands of TV channels, all the music ever recorded just a click away. Not to mention the streaming internet porn. These provide most of the stimulation most humans will ever want, and they don't even need to leave the house. Who needs the pub, or even other people?
Ever since the 1980s, society has become ever more atomised, solipsistic and even misanthropic. A partner and a couple of friends are typically what most people use for face-to-face socialisation. And what partner would put up with their other half spending most of their evenings in the pub? (Ironically this is probably behind the ever increasing divorce rate - couples spending too much time together). People now live vicariously, through a phone screen and apps.
Something has been lost somewhere, undoubtedly. But people don't mind because they cannot miss what they've never had. It's now entirely normal to spend evenings with Netflix and a bottle of wine, and not even to know your neighbours names. I'm fairly sure that the increasingly poor behaviour and sense of entitlement amongst the human race today is a consequence of this. If you don't deal with people in real life on a regular basis, how would you ever learn what is and isn't acceptable?
The pub as a mass institution is probably dead now. Many of the ones that remain are mainly populated by oddballs (CAMRA types and Crafty hipsters both), misfits with no significant relationships, and bored alcoholics. Regular society has turned its back on the pub, as it's needs are being met elsewhere. There are probably too many pubs for it's current level of patronage to support, and plenty more will close before equilibrium is reached.
I will be sad when that day happens. As one of the aforementioned misfits, I'll probably still be drinking in them if I have the money and my internal organs hold up. But happen it will.
Sadly, it's what most people, through their behaviour, have indicated they want.