"..a bardy view!"

Time Gentlemen Please!

It looks like last orders are eventually being called on the great British pub.

Non UK readers of this blog may have a romantic, quintessential notion of the quaint English pub. The old signs swinging gently in the breeze, the names of which conjure up a bygone age: The Lord Nelson, The Wellington, The White Hart, The Prince of Wales, The Dog and Duck, Fox and Hounds, Hare and Hounds, Grenadier, Lord Palmerston, and so on.

Pub names are historical as they represent key events in British history. Returning soldiers or sailors with some nest egg would set up an inn or tavern, and then name it after a particular event, or their commander in chief, or even the monarch or prime minister which they served under. Many would eventually reincarnate with newer names more relevant to the times, but most would be clearly identified as a pub regardless.

Many pubs would pander to a particular clientele. The discreet and warm atmosphere, or the lively musical ensemble of an eclectic community. There are thousands of them. Correction, there were!

The pub would be the centre of a community, along with the post office, the village shop, and the church. If I said to you that all four have all but disappeared in this green and pleasant land, you would not believe me. And yet, it is true.

Churches have either been redeveloped as luxury apartments, or taken over by other religious groups, the shops have closed down, the post offices have been decimated. The pub, inevitably followed. Regardless of the order, when a pub shuts, a community is lost.

I am drawn to this subject because I have just driven past a pub in my area. The George and Dragon was built in 1757. It had survived through monarchs from George III to Elizabeth II and all  the Prime Ministers in-between.

The pub has survived through threats of Napoleonic invasion and two world wars, as well as political strife and depression. Now it has closed it's doors for the final time. The biggest threat to its survival was not the outside enemy, but the enemy within. After standing proud, and being part of an empire in which the sun would never set, it finally gave up, exhausted, beaten and maimed by ironically, it's own government! Yes! They done them in!

Yet it is only one of hundreds of pub closures every month. There are thousands of pubs closing every year. 

Those that continue by a thread have had to diversify. Overbearing legislation from a government which has no respect of culture and inherited worth are slowly sounding the death knell of a tradition renown for hundreds of years. 

The survivors sell food mainly now. Or they have become "Gastro Pubs" (some would say "gastric") that is – new pubs for a new age! But they are not pubs, they are nothing but soulless facsimiles.

Smoking is bad for the health. Drinking is bad for the health. Yet whilst smoking is banned in public places, drinking is actively encouraged twenty-four hours a day. 

Cheap booze is available in any supermarket. The midnight revellers stone themselves up prior to hitting the nightspots. After being turfed out on to the street from these huge drinking dens, violence and antisocial behaviour is rampant. The police regard it as a purely natural part of their job to watch and tread lightly with the mindless drunks! 

The Pub landlord who controlled his customers is long gone, along with his pub. The elderly who popped in for a pint, a pipe, a chat and a game of dominoes don't visit anymore. The young who enjoyed a pint with the old folk don't meet each other anymore. The community spirit of the once great British pub is dead!

George may have slew the dragon, but Gordon has surely murdered George!

February 18, 2009 - Posted by | History

1 Comment »

  1. I have got to hand it to you. This blog is now very impressive, but more importantly it is the way you write which is both eloquent and to the point. Moreover your sense of humour shines through your thought provoking and true comments. Mightily impressed and here’s to your continuing success.


    Comment by Spook Moor | February 26, 2009 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: