Saturday, 29 March 2008

No fun any more

I was thinking the other day how I drink markedly more at home and less in pubs than I did ten or twenty years ago, something that must be reflected in many other people’s drinking patterns. It struck me how going to be pub was, overall, much less enjoyable and interesting than it used to be. There are exceptions, of course, but they are becoming ever rarer.

I came up with the following list of reasons as to why this should be:

  • Reduction of the territoriality of beer distribution, so that there is much less sense of discovery in visiting different areas
  • The growing compartmentalisation of the pub market - there are far fewer “all-purpose” pubs
  • Domination of food in more and more pubs
  • The general admission of children to bar areas
  • Reduced opening hours - so many pubs now close at lunchtime
  • A large number of pubs have shut down, and a lot more have stopped selling cask beer
  • Pubs in general are less welcoming to casual callers - see my earlier piece on the demise of the casual drinker
  • Loss of pub character through refurbishments - there may be fewer grotty pubs, but so many are bland and formulaic, and are laid out more as cafés than as pubs
  • The mass closure of public toilets, so the inevitable consequences of a visit to the pub need much more careful consideration

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