The traditional British pub, once an institution admired throughout the world, regretfully, is dwindling to a fond memory. More and more are closing or turning into eateries which leave little room for socialising or good conversation.
They are not clubs, they can be found deep in the countryside or secreted in cities, attendance is not demanded and length of visit is never specified, they are simply a nice place to relax and be yourself for a little time without affecting family life or raising of kids.
There’s food, beer, spirits, water, coffee, tea or whatever takes your fancy. They are community centres where you can play darts, partake in quizzes, play cribbage, or just sit in a corner watching life go by. They are also information centres and many even have a few shelves where you can take the best seller you’ve just read and exchange it free of charge for another.
The idea is that you call in, relax for a while, chat to a few people and generally get over the day’s stress, becoming intoxicated is not the idea, just a nice time in a great establishment. Class variations don’t feature and people all across the spectrum can be found enjoying good company and conversation. And if you’re interested in picking up local knowledge, how the world works, best place to get your car fixed, who will do a really good job of perking up the garden, a good place to go on holiday, all the local gossip or whether the world is flat or the moon made of hard smelly cheese the real British Pub needs to be visited… you won’t regret it I’m sure and you certainly can’t experience this by drinking a can of alcoholic chemically doctored stuff by yourself at home.
There are still a few great traditional pubs left and can be found with a little research. ‘The Farmers Arms’ at Birtsmorton, Worcestershire, used to be my ‘local’ for years before I moved from the area. This half timbered pub, like many others, has no fruit machines, juke boxes, canned tuneless music or anything else designed to stop people enjoying each other’s company. The subjects of discussion and natural humour have to be experienced to be believed. This, I think, is the main reason why these places just can’t be the same in the culture of another country as a building can be copied but outlook on life can’t be exported.
Traditional pubs have absolutely nothing to do with binge drinking and the nuisance caused when the participants are released to create havoc. No, the traditional British Pub was designed and refined over many centuries as being a place where you can go after a hard day’s stressing to unwind, socialise and generally feel far better on leaving than you did on entering. Long may the surviving examples live.