Monday, July 28, 2008

Smoking ban killing the traditional pub

Since the smoking ban came into force a little over a year ago it has been generally heralded as an unqualified success with the BBC in particular only too keen to parade delighted landlords across our screens telling us how lovely it all is now.

It seems, though, that the statistics tell a different story.

THE traditional local pub is facing an "unprecedented threat" from soaring costs and stay-at-home drinkers, experts have warned, as a new report reveals beer sales in bars have fallen to their lowest level since the Great Depression.

I'm not sure whether that is total sales of beer or a per capita figure - but if it is the total then that is a real worry seeing how our population is considerably larger than it was during the Great Depression.

Some 107 million fewer pints were sold between April and June this year than in the same period last year – a fall of 1.2 million pints a day.

Given that the national scourge at the moment appears to be binge drinking one would have thought that these figures are something to be pleased about - but the real concern is actually about losing a vital part of our heritage. The traditional pub.

The news follows estimates that as many as 350 pubs have closed in Scotland in the past two years, and has brought predictions of the "death" of traditional pubs across the country.

Scotland has, of course, had an extra year of the smoking ban and this has obviously taken it's toll. Again, some will see that this is a good sign - less beer will mean fewer health problems for Scotland won't it? - but I'm not convinced that this is so. You see, the traditional pub is still the favoured haunt of the average working man, but deprived of the opportunity to enjoy a B&H with his pint of heavy, the working man is, instead, staying at home having a crafty fag with a 30p can of super strength supermarket lager.

Meanwhile, more and more pubs are closing down or turning into those awful drinking warehouses that the young seem to favour. Places where the senses are constantly assaulted by loud "music" and flashing lights and where the simple pleasure of sitting down with a pint for a chat with your mates is impossible. Either that or they are being turned into "gastro-pubs" where the only thing more ridiculously expensive than the food is the beer.

Again, some people won't mind this. They are generally "progressives" who see the traditional pub as one of the anachronisms of British society - male dominated, dowdy and dull - and envisage turning Britain into some pastiche of a Euro-style cafe society.

Personally, though, I think the traditional British pub is not only one of the few institutions of the traditional working man it is one of our great cultural gems and anything that threatens that is a bad thing.

3 comments:

Lawrence Newman said...

Stan

You never cease to state it exactly how it is. Surely we must disagree on something?? lol

Michael Savage says it like it is. We're being taken over by latte-sipping liberals, and it needs to stop. I've not spoken to my sister for years because she's another one of these liberal fascists.

Harry Hook said...

On my 8 mile trip to work, most of the small traditional pubs (at least 12) have been boarded up, ready to be re-developed into flats.

This Royal Throne of Kings said...

Couldn't agree more, Stan.

In fact, I've written about this very subject twice myself in very similar terms, most recently in May after I discovered that sixty-pubs had gone out of business in my area - East Lancashire - in a matter of months.

And of course, when they're gone, they're gone forever and with them another piece of England.