The Guardian newspaper recently published an editorial praising pubs as the heart of the community. To be fair, it includes much to agree with:
Britons cling to their pubs because they have been engraved on to their hearts. Hilaire Belloc remarked that “when you have lost your inns drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England”. They represent to us what cafes are to the French: a way of seeing ourselves and our condition. It was painful to see a British institution sadly and slowly disappearing, and that trend risked losing an important part of our culture. With more pubs opening, Britain feels like we can overcome the social isolation and cultural confusion of the age. We ought to raise a glass to good news in these dark times.It can’t help saying, though, that “the pub’s image was perhaps not helped by Nigel Farage’s obvious joy at being inside one.” However, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that it all rings a bit hollow when the paper has, over the years, enthusiastically published every scare story about alcohol and often given editorial support to anti-drink and anti-pub policies.
Pubs are only going to thrive when people feel relaxed and confident about visiting them, rather than sensing they are doing something vaguely disreputable. It seems, as I have remarked before, that many media commentators have a rose-tinted affection for the idea of pubs in the abstract, but are uncomfortable with the rumbustious reality of what they actually are and what people do there.