Not so long ago, it was axiomatic that beer prices in the South-East tended to be at least 50p a pint more than those around here. But recently, I’ve noticed the gap narrowing and even closing altogether. Many pubs in this area, especially those in the more affluent parts, seem to have put through inflation-busting rises that have resulted in £2.40 for a pint of ordinary bitter being commonplace. Yet recently I spent a few days in Buckinghamshire in and around Aylesbury, and found prices generally in the £2.50-£2.60 region. Indeed I encountered the premium Old Hooky in a fairly smart pub at a bargain £2.25, which you would be unlikely to find in a similar pub here. Price differentials now seem to have more to do with the perceived social status of the establishment than with geographical area.