While they didn’t make the list of things that make Britain great, I think they should be. This morning, when I had little to do, I decided to check out the news on MSN. Imagine my surprise when I saw a Newsweek article about the decline of the most beloved of Britain’s icons – the village pub (public house).
Admittedly I’ve been to only one pub in my travels of England and that particular one was a gastro-pub (where food is served in addition to alcohol) so not really a pub in the truest sense, but I got a feel for them. We have neighbourhood bars here in the states, but it’s not the same thing. When I think of neighbourhood bars I think of alcoholics who want a night out, people desperate for sex or an afternoon watching American football. All this may or may not be true of the village pub, but from my point of view, I doubt it. Except maybe the American football traded for UK football or rugby.
So the decline of the village pub seems to revolve around three issues: the smoking ban of 2007, the sky high taxes the British government places on alcohol in general to discourage over consumption and the high cost of alcohol in general. But pubs have been a staple of British society for centuries. A place where people could meet to chat and enjoy the company of others.
It’d be a damn shame if this icon were to vanish into oblivion. I get a kick out of the names of some of these pubs and have to wonder if the owners weren’t pissed when they named the place.