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Pubs aren't dying - they are evolving

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Mark Easton | 12:26 UK time, Friday, 31 July 2009

The great British boozer, we are told, is dying. But the widely reported news that 52 pubs are closing every week is not what it seems. In fact, it is probable that there are more places to enjoy a drink now than a couple of years ago.

Look at two sets of data from last year.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), campaigning against licensing reforms and the smoking ban, told Parliament that close to 2,000 more pubs closed than opened in 2008, (Economic Trends in the Beer and Pub Sector [1.05MB PDF]).

A committee of MPs duly published this graph showing 39 closing a week.

Average weekly net pub closures 2004-2008

However, if you look at data from the most complete government research into licensing ever conducted, a very different story emerges, (Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing [561KB PDF]).

After the introduction of new licensing laws in 2005, the Department of Culture approached every local licensing authority in England and Wales and asked them for annual data.

What the replies revealed is that, between March 2007 and March 2008, the number of premises with licenses to sell alcohol increased by 4,200. That's an extra 80 opening a week.

The table below shows how licenses for on-sales (including clubs) increased from 128,200 in 2007 to 132,400 in 2008.

Modelled estimates for key statistics, March 2007, March 2008 and estimated percentage change

The obvious explanation for the contradictory picture painted by the pub lobby and the bald licensing stats is that they are measuring different things. It comes down to what you define as a "pub".

The source for the BBPA data is a company called CGA Strategy based in Stockport. The company literature says it was formed in 1992 "to provide market intelligence for retailers of Pubs and Bars and Drinks Brand owners supplying the On Trade in Great Britain".

CGA enjoy a pre-eminent position as industry analysts and almost every reference to the state of the British pub seems to come back to them. I spoke to Chief Executive Jon Collins, a former political lobbyist who once ran The Bar Entertainment & Dance Association. "What is a pub?" I asked him. "It can be quite subjective," he replied.

He explained that his company employs a complex coding system with 66 separate categories. If a pub starts selling food, it will move from one category to another. If it sells enough meals, the pub is deemed to have "closed" and a restaurant has opened up.

"It's relatively straightforward if The Crown becomes the Taj Mahal," Mr Collins told me. But he admitted that often it is "more observational".

"If 80-90% of customers are going in to dine, then that is a restaurant," he said. "If you can stand at the bar and drink a pint, it is still a pub!"

Mr Collins accepts that there has been "segment migration", with an increase in "casual dining" and a decrease in what the industry calls "wet-led pubs" - bars that don't sell food.

In fact, last week's press release from the BBPA reveals that of the 52 weekly closures the CGA research identifies, 51 are "wet-led" establishments. It also notes that "branded pubs and café style bars are actually opening at a rate of two a week".

I wondered whether there had been an increase in the number of licensed restaurants identified by CGA's coding system. Mr Collins agreed there had - but "not enough" to compensate for all the pubs that had closed.

He did tell me, though, that in the latest CGA data, despite the recession, his figures showed a small increase (0.1%) in the number of restaurants. Hmm.

If CGA Strategy's data tells a story, it may be about publicans who are unable or unwilling to adapt to the 21st Century trading environment.

The pubs that are closing, overwhelmingly, are those that existed to serve customers who came to drink and to smoke. Without the beguiling fug of tobacco smoke and the draw of cheap beer, such places find it much harder to survive.

As Jon Collins told me:

"If your whole market is 50-60 year-old males who have two pints and a smoke in the boozer on the way home from work, you are going to struggle. Now those customers are buying four cans of cheap lager from the supermarket and having a cigarette in their own home."

You may disagree with the new licensing laws, the taxes on alcohol and the smoking ban. You may mourn the demise of old-fashioned tobacco-stained drinking dens. But you could equally argue that the legislation is doing exactly what it was intended to do.

The "night-time economy" is diversifying - instead of countless "vertical-drinking" establishments (pubs where you stand and drink) there is a more mixed economy of cafes, bars and restaurants.

"Maybe there is a socialising effect," concedes Mr Collins at CGA. Tapas bars, pancake houses, burger joints and gastropubs encourage customers to eat as they drink - which some might suggest is a healthy development.

The recent Office for National Statistics survey on attitudes to smoking (Smoking-related Behaviour and Attitudes, 2008/9 [610MB PDF]) included a question about pubs: how often did you visit pubs before the smoking restrictions?

Interestingly, overall 14% said they went more and 17% said they went less. In other words, the survey suggests pubs are more popular now than before the ban.

Changes in visiting pubs since smoking restrictions introduced

I don't think the great British pub is dying. Just as it has for centuries, it is adapting. It is evolving.

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:51pm on 31 Jul 2009, The_Hess wrote:

    As a student, pubs, clubs and bars are a way of life, a home from home. Many of the bars we go to sell food and drink in the day, then later on, close for an hour or so and re-open as clubs in the evening. How do you classify these? Admittedly all the pubs and bars I have been to are in the centre of Glasgow, but they are always busy. I think the smoking ban has caused problems for some pub goers, and made life better for others. I agree with the idea of pubs evolving. Trends change, and quite rightly. Perhaps a look into where all these closures are occuring (rural pubs?), because all the places I drink at are always busy.

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  • 2. At 12:56pm on 31 Jul 2009, Red Lenin wrote:

    Are you part of the New Labour 'spin machine'?

    If not, you should be. I would hardly call the 'Greasy Joe' transport cafe down near where I work, which has just been granted an alcohol licence, a suitable like-for-like replacement for my local which has just gone bust.

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  • 3. At 12:56pm on 31 Jul 2009, michael wrote:

    I agree they are evolving, they are evolving into blocks of flats and they are evolving into building sites. Some (few) evolve into restaurants and other family orientated places. When a pub closes it is becoming rare for it to reopen as a place where adults can meet and have a sociable drink.

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  • 4. At 1:06pm on 31 Jul 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    "I don't think the great British pub is dying. Just as it has for centuries, it is adapting. It is evolving."


    This may be the case for those living in big cities but not within suburban or rural residential areas.
    The staff restaurant in our company has just been granted a license to serve alcohol but only does so to members of staff when they have finished work, several other big office blocks in the business district have done the same recently.

    On the other hand, my local pub around the corner from where I live closed down a few years ago and is now awaiting demolition to make way for more flats (or executive apartments as the developers like to call them), the same is true for two of the other three pubs that are within a few minutes walking distance from my home.
    Several of the old country pubs my parents used to take me to when I was younger have also closed down in recent years, mostly they've been turned into residential blocks too or knocked down & replaced with yet more flats.

    It is now easier than it ever has been to go and get drunk surrounded by strangers in some identikit bar, finding a nice place where you can relax with people you know is becoming harder all of the time.

    I'd like to see some comparison with the number of local pubs in residential communities now compared to ten years ago, trying to compare the number of local pubs with the number of city-centre bars is like comparing apples with oranges, they're two different things and should be treated differently.

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  • 5. At 1:27pm on 31 Jul 2009, dancecrasher wrote:

    More false comfort for those polititians who supported the governments smoking ban, and more phoney ficures to try and justify there unjust law, but at the next general election this government will see what the people of this country really think if there discrimitating dictatorship smoking ban.

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  • 6. At 1:36pm on 31 Jul 2009, BrownbankruptsBrits wrote:

    So the pub/eatery that has been boarded up for over a year in a neighbouring road from me must be "evolving" into what?
    They could`nt even survive selling cheap microwave food even though there`s no competition for miles.
    Does your analysis exclude corner shop off-licenses selling cans?
    I can testify that there are certainly more of them.
    It all looks very downtown Detroit which the BBC would rather chew broken glass than admit eh?

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  • 7. At 1:54pm on 31 Jul 2009, LippyLippo wrote:

    I've had 2 establishments opened very close to me, both of which have names like pubs, look from the outside like pubs, and serve draught beers, but both are actually chain pub-restaurants with the emphasis on 'restaurant'. (OK the food is rubbish and probably microwaved in the kitchen by a 14 year-old trainee, but you see what I mean - they are technically restaurants in the sense that you can eat in there however unpleasant the experience is). Despite charging eight quid for burger and chips, (plus as much salad as you want, provided you don't mind how many grubby little fingers have been poking around in it, coughing over it etc.) both are completely packed every night with old and young people and have been ever since they opened a few months ago. So you can see where the trend is going. Meanwhile in the town centre, several of the old spit-and-sawdust places are boarded up, so if you want a skinful and a fight, you have to go to the local nightclub.

    There must be a gap in the market for a decent pub that just serves decent beer in a convivial atmosphere, but you try and find one! We can't all take a 4-pack home and sit drinking it. The pub had one advantage over home drinking - the wife and kids weren't there! The market has polarised. On one side there's the insidious rise of the 'family pub' selling glorified fast food and full of screaming kids (or Arthur and Wendy taking mother out of her care home for a bite to eat every Sunday). Or cheap vertical-drinking super-pubs full of teens swilling cheap fizzy lager and bright blue alco pops and blaring with Lady GaGa. And you try finding a country pub that hasn't sucumbed to the pub-grub culture. If you're hungry, what was wrong with a bag of cheese and onion? With a pickled egg in it if it's payday?

    At least in France and Spain they have kept their male bastion equivalents. Gerard and Francois still knock back the Pernod and vin rouge untroubled by their wives and offspring. Maybe we'll adopt this European model and us men of a certain age will sit with our bieres putting the world to rights again in Le Chien et Le Canard. Salut!!

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  • 8. At 2:00pm on 31 Jul 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    More statistics and more drivel.
    Numbers do not rule our lives, people and our social networking is what should rule our (social) lives.

    My partner and I used to go out 3 or 4 nights per week to meet friends who we only really saw in the pub, and it was part of our social scene. Since smoking was banned, we hardly went out at all, but this Easter I decided to start trying to rebuild my social life again, after my partner and I broke up - likely due to our lack of socialising.

    I went back to my old local, and it was a different pub. Previously, Friday night used to be a party atmosphere, rammed from door to pool table, and it was a great place to go. Saturday night was so busy, you had to be in before 10pm otherwise the doorman would just refuse you because it had reached the fire limit.

    Now Monday is closed, Tuesday may as well be (2 or 4 customers), Wednesday maybe a bit better with 10 - 15 customers, Thursday might make 30 customers, and Friday / Saturday / Sunday are all so quiet by comparison it's hardly worth going.

    When I spoke to the manager, he said it had been like this and gradually getting worse since January 2008. The smoking ban came in mid 2007 and it took time, I guess, but by the time winter had come, the usual January Blues (that part after New Year and before most peoples first salary) was never recovered from. Less people go out, some hard-liners carry on, eventually you see less and less of your friends, so you stop going, and then that's it.

    I found out, last night, that they're closing in mid-August to be re-opened after a refit as a Griddle Bar.

    Wonderful - I can't socialise with people I know any more in the way we used to, but I can get a steak.

    Pubs are dying. Restaurants sell booze, supermarkets sell booze, even your local burger van can sell booze if he's got a license, but pubs no longer hold any attraction. Where is the social life?

    I'm going to open a bar in my house - I have my personal license from years ago, and so long as I don't sell alcohol (you can bring your own though) and you'll be able to smoke too, and I can even offer a bed to the weary drinker after closing (if we ever close), there will be no law that can stop me - apart from the neighbours calling the police about the noise on a school night. I have some music, so that's ok (as long as you don't dance because I don't have a license for that).

    Is that an Inn or a Tavern?

    Statistics are rubbish, I'm still listed as a licensee because of my personal license, but I don't trade anymore - and there will be many more like me.

    Yes there has been an upsurge in licenses - for supermarkets, garages, corner shops, burger / kebab vans, cafes, restaurants - even those for summer festivals (IOW, Chelmsford, Glastonbury, Reading) all the other outdoor places you can buy booze.

    Pubs are not evolving, they're being killed and replaced.

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  • 9. At 2:03pm on 31 Jul 2009, delminister wrote:

    sadly they are evolving into yuppy bars that have no community spirit.
    the reduction of the older style public houses is a massive blow to the english way of life.
    even though these bups are evolving their concept of staff is still a joke and insulting.
    pubs should employ a method of training equal to aprentiships where trainees spend time learning all areas of alcohol not just serving.

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  • 10. At 2:13pm on 31 Jul 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    7. At 1:54pm on 31 Jul 2009, LippyLippo wrote:
    "...Maybe we'll adopt this European model and us men of a certain age will sit with our bieres putting the world to rights again in Le Chien et Le Canard. Salut!!."

    Ha Ha - spot on.
    La tête du roi or my favourite - la grenouille et le crapaud

    We may have disagreed on some subjects, Lippy, but I'm glad to see that there is something in life we can agree on.

    As for getting away from the wife and kids - I know blokes like that too, and wonder what they must be doing now, particulary if they're smokers. I wonder if there is any corresponding statistics that show a rise in psychological disfunction in relation to the fall in public houses. I wonder if the local mental health authority are becoming overwhelmed with men of a certain age having mental breakdowns or mid-life crises a few years early.

    Personally, I used to enjoy going to the pub with my other half, we'd have a giggle and that was what it was about. How are we supposed to do that in Tesco booze aisle or while waiting for our Rack of Ribs at a table for two.

    I'm not against change if it's for the good, but man, I'm sick of the pace of change in this country, and it all seems to me to be in one direction - down

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  • 11. At 2:22pm on 31 Jul 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    9. At 2:03pm on 31 Jul 2009, delminister wrote:
    "...pubs should employ a method of training equal to aprentiships where trainees spend time learning all areas of alcohol not just serving..."

    Delminister, as an ex publican and licensee I can do nothing but agree with you. I used to take part in a program used by Courage Breweries, whom I worked for, called the 'Craft Trainer Award Scheme', and it consisted of various training modules from 'care and maintanence of cask ales' to 'kitchen skills and hygeine' and so on. All staff were encouraged to take part, and a certain pride was instilled to do a good job. Now, with the exception of some good barstaff that I still know, many would be better placed in a well known high street McBurger restaurant.

    I remember the day it all went wrong. I was with Courage Breweries, at the time, I was assistant manager at a Courage Managed House near Oxford, and the law changed. Breweries no longer had any managed houses, and big retail conglomerates moved in. Grand Metropolitan took over the retail side, and we all became a Burger King franchise.

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  • 12. At 2:40pm on 31 Jul 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    A side issue I know but if all of the local pubs are closing down and being replaced with town and city centre pubs what effect will this have on drink driving ?

    I know many people who used to come home from work, put the car on the drive and then walk round to the pub for a few drinks. If you now have to go to the town or city centre then are these people driving there and back, walking or using taxi's ?

    Are residential suburban area's likely to see a rise in the country pub & drive phenomenon where the local pub is too far to walk and too expensive to get a taxi to a few times a week so people end up just having a few and then driving back home ?


    I've also noticed several of my friends have started drinking more often since they stopped going to the pub regularly, most of them only drank a few times a week when we went to the pub or to a club but now they've started having a drink and smoke at home they've got into the habit and now drink almost every single night.

    It'll take a few years for the statistics to come out but I wouldn't be surprised if drink driving and alcohol related illnesses were becoming more common because of this.

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  • 13. At 2:45pm on 31 Jul 2009, Ian P wrote:

    I certainly fail to see any "evolving" around us. It could easily be said that there were too many pubs in the area to start with (they were everywhere) but even as a non-drinking, non-smoking, rather anti-social type it's very depressing to see six of the ten pubs within easy walking distance of our house, plus many more in the area, which are boarded up with large signs announcing "ALL PROPERTY OF VALUE HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THIS BUILDING".

    Doesn't look much like evolution to me. Looks a lot more like closure. Two more are up for sale, with signs practically begging someone to come and take them over "for the community".

    It does seem to have increased the numbers smoking outside those that remain, though!

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  • 14. At 3:00pm on 31 Jul 2009, Isenhorn wrote:

    Secratariat,

    'I know many people who used to come home from work, put the car on the drive and then walk round to the pub for a few drinks. If you now have to go to the town or city centre then are these people driving there and back, walking or using taxi's ?'

    Shouldn't those people be staying home with their wifes/partners and kids after work, instead of going to the pub and having a few beers? And worrying about the breakdown of familiy and society?
    ;-)

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  • 15. At 3:02pm on 31 Jul 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    delminister & SHLA2UK

    Good point.
    When I was a bartender I was lucky enough to work for a company that sent staff on training courses with the UK Bartenders Guild.
    They taught me all about the history of alcohol, the different ways you can serve & present drinks as well as the legal requirements surrounding the sale of alcohol and much, much more. They also used to enter us into bar tending competitions.

    I ended up as a fully trained flair cocktail waiter & silver service bartender, as a result of this I got to work at some very swanky events and met many famous people during my time as a bartender.

    I know not all bar staff need to be trained to this level but there should be a minimum legal requirement for all bar staff as the level of service & knowledge shown by most McPub bar staff is terrible.

    The Americans see bar tending as a career and tend to put a lot more effort into training their staff, as a result they produce some amazingly talented bar staff who are worth paying to see pour a drink.

    I've also met some very knowledgeable bar staff who can tell you all sorts of brilliant stories about traditional ales, wine, spirits and such like. Without exception they all worked for independent or traditional pubs and I've yet to meet a McBartender in a chain pub who even came close to this level of knowledge or service.


    For anyone who is interested the UK Bartenders Guild can be found at:
    http://www.ukbg.co.uk/news.html

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  • 16. At 3:14pm on 31 Jul 2009, David wrote:

    Pubs aren't closing, they're evolving. Genius. Banks weren't in trouble, they were evolving. My company is evolving 50 staff to be differently employed.

    So local pubs, that are part of the fabric of small villages, shutting down and "restraunts" selling overpriced microwave meals replacing them is something to be lauded ?

    Don't mistake the ability to make a fast buck with an evolution in customer needs/wants.

    I used to work in the analysis department for a very large pubco - as soon as the assett (pub) didn't perform to x% EBITDA, it was offloaded; the land value being the driver. So a perfectly good pub (ie serving a community, no drugs, no problems with the police) would be closed because - at that precise moment - its estimated profitability was a few points below the return of selling it to developers.

    To assume that the functionality of a pub is expressed solely in the value of its bottom line is incorrect. Its the sort of argument that leads to us having Tesco's and the ilk taking over - "if people wanted to shop in smaller stores, there'd be no need for a supermarket". Forgetting that the bigger organisations are prepared to take a short hit to kill the competition.

    Sad, sad days.

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  • 17. At 3:45pm on 31 Jul 2009, HardWorkingHobbes wrote:

    This story reminds me of a Daily Mail article just before the smoking ban was introduced.
    In the same paragraph it said that hundreds of pubs would close because the landlords would refuse to open at all hours and people wouldn't go there and that hundreds of pubs would open to deal with the demand for longer drinking.

    Personnally one of the reasons I stopped going out to the pub is because the chance of violence has increased, you just need to look at somone and for them to think you're 'eyeing them up' for them to start a fight.

    When friends asked why I wasn't going out my reply was always:
    "the men drinking in Guildford are only out for a fight or a [f word profanity], and I don't want to engage them in either"

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  • 18. At 3:48pm on 31 Jul 2009, gibbon_plinth wrote:

    If the pubs were that wonderful in the first place, the smoking ban wouldn't have made that much difference to them.

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  • 19. At 3:57pm on 31 Jul 2009, Lee Griffin wrote:

    So the usual suspects crop up, those that can never accept the smoking ban, those that obviously love it, and those that are a little more sensible and see that the underlying roots of the pub industry woes are, as they have always been, big business squeezing the little guy.

    If the city is doing well it is because they are able to adapt quicker to market trends and in a way that doesn't affect their narrow margins given how much they have to shell out to the pub companies and breweries.

    If the rural pub isn't doing well it's still because those margins have forced prices higher.

    Cheap pubs don't die, large community pubs rarely die, but small pubs that simply don't have the breathing room for small changes in their income will easily die, whether the smoking ban took away a few customers or natural causes...if there was a business model that allowed them much more slack to actually run a profitable business then they'd find it easier to survive.

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  • 20. At 4:02pm on 31 Jul 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    So, the picture is very different depending on exactly which set of statistics you choose. No great surprises there: that's generally how statistics work.

    What I'd be interested to know is this: how much of the publicity surrounding the statistics suggesting that pubs are closing in droves since the smoking ban came into effect has been paid for by the tobacco companies?

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  • 21. At 4:18pm on 31 Jul 2009, David wrote:

    Just noticed - the table you use showing a net increase in pub is most amusing.

    Also moderately useless, since there is no way of knowing value of the increase. Overall, 17% said they go the pub "more often" than they used to. However 25% current smokers go less. Since we don't know how many times either actually visits the pub, or what the spend is, then its value in backing your argument/points is fairly limited. Oh wait, it was compiled by the ONS and had a massive 4,300 respondants - in that case think there is a disclaimer somewhere stating that you can use any of the tables to back up any particular argument you feel like.

    Fantastic.

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  • 22. At 4:27pm on 31 Jul 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    Not so much to do with the smoking ban, more to do with big business taking over pubs over the last 30 years and ripping off the punters. £2.50 to £3.50 for a pint of mass produced coloured water which cost about 10p to make, that's a good enough reason for staying out of pubs.

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  • 23. At 4:41pm on 31 Jul 2009, JM wrote:

    In my home village, one of our six pubs closed down and has now opened up as an (non-chain) Italian restaurant/wine bar. Admittedly, perhaps we are a minority, but I think it's been really good for the village as now we have somewhere to go for a good quality meal or bottle of wine, in addition to having somewhere for a game of pool and a pint.

    Another local pub has recently started up its own micro-brewery and now makes really good, local beer. Unsurprisingly, it's always busy, young and old alike.

    So, in short, I believe rural pubs can and are evolving, but the "old-man" pub isn't extinct either. It's also up to us to support the ones we like.

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  • 24. At 4:46pm on 31 Jul 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    18. At 3:48pm on 31 Jul 2009, gibbon_plinth wrote:
    "...If the pubs were that wonderful in the first place, the smoking ban wouldn't have made that much difference to them..."

    That's a very broad and probably mis-understood response. It is not necessarily the 'pub' that was wonderful, but the concept, and the smoking ban had a huge effect on that. I don't want to smoke in Tesco, and I don't want to drink in Tesco, I want to do both in my local with everyone else that wants to do the same. There could equally be other pubs that didn't allow smoking, but the proof would be in the takings.

    No smoking in pubs means that the smoking population will just stay at home. The non-smoking population (and I'm generalising against my better judgement) tend to stay at home anyway, so the pub is dying because there are no takings. They can hardly afford to meet running costs, let alone any profit.

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  • 25. At 4:50pm on 31 Jul 2009, freejames wrote:

    I can see that the smoking ban hasn't helped but try a pub quiz:
    1) Is your pub clean and cared for?
    2) Is it open when it says it is?
    3) Is your drink served in a cool, clean, glass?
    4) Is your drink served untainted, untampered, and at the correct temperature?
    5) Are you selling what customers want to buy, or what the bosses want to sell?
    6) Are the staff serving customers or talking to their mates?
    7) Are the management or landlord/lady doing their job?
    8) Is your pub cocaine free?

    I know of no pubs that can truthfully give the correct answers, unless I go to the expense of a very, very, long taxi fare.(and I have not started on the food).
    Now why are pubs failing?

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  • 26. At 5:10pm on 31 Jul 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    Oh, just a little random thought on pubs evolving, or failing to evolve:

    A couple of weeks ago I thought it would be nice to go to my local pub for a pint and an evening meal. I phoned to check whether they were serving food.

    They had been serving food, apparently, but stopped doing so at 7.30 pm (it was about 7.45 at the time I phoned).

    I suspect they'll evolve a little bit faster once they've figured out that food is more popular if served at meal times.

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  • 27. At 6:06pm on 31 Jul 2009, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    DisgustedOfMitcham2

    Consider yourself lucky, I went to our only remaining local pub the other week and we thought we'd give the food a try, it was possibly the worst meal I've ever been served.

    This seems to be a theme for many pubs, they're trying to serve food to get in more customers but the quality of food is so bad you're better of having some Pork Scratchings.

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  • 28. At 6:16pm on 31 Jul 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    I don't really know anything about the English pub scene but honestly
    restaurants that survive this downturn have a stable,committed clientele. With any business, no matter how good, you should always be striving to improve it. I think one draw might be a very kid friendly pub that has a secure area where children can play games, paint,color. If done well and you make the kids happy, they'll be bugging their parents to return. Parents want a little respite from their children where they can have a drink and talk to an adult. Providing a dual atmosphere may be one way to draw people back.

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  • 29. At 7:53pm on 31 Jul 2009, EBGB wrote:

    I live in middle of nowhere, & so I can't mind driving to a pub if I'm meeting friends. But what I do mind is, once inside, being charged more for a soft drink than an alcoholic one. So another potentially regular customer is lost due to the offer not being right; profit now over returning in future. Where's the sense in that?

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  • 30. At 8:51pm on 31 Jul 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    Sorry, but this is classic news-speak. If, for example, one looked at snooker as a sport then we know it was born from British Army officer billiard players in India.

    Yet it is not called billards any more.

    The pubs referred to as thriving are not pubs, they are places-to-eat that sell alcohol.

    Pubs, traditionally, sold drink and maybe pies, later on crisps and toasties as well.

    Thus is the pub is not evolving, it is metamorphising and thus, is no longer a pub.
    cheers

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  • 31. At 9:05pm on 31 Jul 2009, Monjo wrote:

    The decline of the pub started with the closure of industry. Has been continuted with the gradual rise in cost of alcohol and the ban on tobacco smoking. However, in any community of a reasonable size there will always be enough demand for a pub - but small towns and villages may find themselves without; whereas; there used to be villages of 400-500 with 3, 4, or 5 pubs! Now they'll do well to have one.

    I would not take alcohol licensing seriously for determining pubs, aren't Starbucks opening alcohol bars now... presumably serving Irish coffees.

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  • 32. At 10:57pm on 31 Jul 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Mark,
    You should invite all of your bloggers to a pub somewhere in London. Then let the rest of us who can't attend hear the discussion and see their faces. I hope its hilarious. Wouldn't you be interested to see the eclectic collection of bloggers like Newspaceman1, Community Criminal, SHLA2UK etc?

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  • 33. At 11:56pm on 31 Jul 2009, U14074320 wrote:

    I don't see much point in going to old traditional pubs with just men.
    I would rather go where the girls go or get booze to drink at home.

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  • 34. At 00:00am on 01 Aug 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 00:26am on 01 Aug 2009, Rick S wrote:

    Great. The pubs that are surviving are "evolving" and turning into eateries that sell drinks. So what happens to the real restaurants? Oh yes, that's right, they're closing down now, because everyone's eating cheaper food down what used to be the pub.
    Variety and character have gone out of the window. 75% of my favourite local restaurants (two Chinese and a Thai) have gone in the last two or three years, leaving only the Indian. At the same time, what used to be one of my favourite local pubs now stinks of tomato ketchup and vinegar and I feel weird because I'm the only person in there not stuffing my face with unappetising stodge.
    Everything is utterly impersonal now - the evenings of the past, where you'd have a few beers and a few cigarettes in the pub before settling down to a warm welcome and a cosy atmosphere in a nearby restaurant seem to be consigned to history. Instead you stick a numbered wooden spoon in a vase in the "pub" and someone who couldn't care less brings a big plate of chips to your table. Oh well, that's progress, I suppose.

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  • 36. At 02:04am on 01 Aug 2009, shredaholic wrote:

    Perhaps its due to the rise of the 'plub' - half pub, half club? Take away most of the seating arrangements, turn up the music so you have to shout to hear each other, and fill it with underage drinkers and there you have what is now a plub!

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  • 37. At 02:19am on 01 Aug 2009, RadioRogerL wrote:

    NuLab cobblers, nice bit of spin to hide the truth.

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  • 38. At 07:44am on 01 Aug 2009, U14074320 wrote:

    I presumed the government had scored another own goal by introducing the smoking ban which killed off the smoking/drinking pub man but the statistics never lie do they? Guess I got to go out more

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  • 39. At 08:20am on 01 Aug 2009, englishcharlie wrote:

    Since the smoking ban the majority of smokers are going out less to restaurants and pubs. Pubs have started selling meals to attract people who like a meal and now restaurants are getting alcohol licences in an effort to keep their customers. Pubs and restaurants are fighting one an other for the few that are still going out.

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  • 40. At 09:37am on 01 Aug 2009, grumpynotoldman wrote:

    Another good choice for some analysis Mark, but unfortunately the ONS "survey" compared with lobbyists invested assertions are hardly free from disingenuity.

    Licenses are increasing and that increased availability has led to an increase in the harms to a very large number of individuals.(alcohol related harm figures)

    Local authorities, police and public health are in a cleft stick.
    Grow the "nightime economy" or protect and serve their damaged communities.

    The evolution you refer to is a result of the unintended consequences of unrelated social control measures which have been lobbyed out of their usefullness by the vested interests. Unit labelling, loss-leading promotion bans, banning drink as much as you can for £5, unit costs, raising the purchase age, advertising bans.

    It's no surprise to me that the effects are a surprise to everyone else.
    How can you predict the outcome of so many different measures all enacted to attempt to shift peoples' "perceptions".
    This is what the government now uses to measure the effects of their interventions as the numbers don't tell them what they want to know.
    HHMMM!

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  • 41. At 09:49am on 01 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    While i feel sorry for the landlords I don't feel sorry for anyone else as pubs close. I don't use alcohol except on special occasions so hay ho of they go.
    I could say that as a cannabis user I'm glad to see these blights on society go after all they are part of a social problem and should all be closed.

    but i also understand that communitys both social and working are built in such places for this part its sad but that's it its sad. If i want to find a good plumber by word of mouth I can always go see my dealer he knows everyone :)

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  • 42. At 10:08am on 01 Aug 2009, Chris_X wrote:

    There is a pub near here that closed apparently (according to the owners) "due to the smoking ban" - it even made the national news shortly after the ban was introduced. The pub was bought by a new owner, re-fitted, and has been popular ever since. The fact is that the original owner ran a dive - if he had looked at the two nearest pubs (his competition) he would've seen that they were both very popular, very nice pubs serving good quality real ales. This is what the market wanted in this particular area, but he refused to admit it and went bust. Good riddance.

    Now there is another nearby pub that has been on the slide for years - another dark and dingy dive that somehow became popular with goths till they moved on, multiple owners, the "pub to rent/sell" sign outside for months on end, etc. It now has new owners, is selling the largest range of on-tap quality beers in the city, and has a proper chef actually making quality food rather than microwaving frozen meals like they used to. During the days they do a better trade in coffee and food than beer. Suddenly, like a miracle, the pub is really popular again! Except it's no miracle, just a simple rule - good pubs will always be in demand, bad pubs won't. If the pub is a nice place to spend time, and has good beer, good food, good coffee, a place to sit, and reasonable prices, then it will be a success. It's just not about the cheap beer and fags anymore (and, to be fair, the recession would've hit that kind of consumer harder anyway, so the smoking ban is hardly the only factor in the demise of the "crap pub").

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  • 43. At 10:13am on 01 Aug 2009, hack-round wrote:

    It is market forces in a free market doing what they do pubs, restaurants come and go trends change and the world moves on.

    It is only when we start to interfere or use none comparative statistics to make cases that the market becomes upset and while some short-term benefit may be gained by one faction the long term is a disaster a la the banking market.

    Once upon a time we had a pub on every corner of every street then we had country pups in every barn which townies drove out to.

    Now its restaurants with rubbish process food tomorrow who knows but it will be free public choice like it or not and for those who dont like it there is always the club for like minded people, from golf to reform.

    Cheers!

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  • 44. At 10:55am on 01 Aug 2009, thtone wrote:

    Pub,parish church,chapels of one sort or the other were the hubs of community whether in rural village or industrial city and its suburbs.
    In cities some 'pubs' had been 'commercial hotels, but they still served the same community purposes.Most pubs were owned by Breweries and 'tenanted' by Landlords who were publicaly accountable for the lawfulness of his or her pub.Their names were posted over the main entrance.
    Most people drank traditional beer not high alcohol lagers and spirits.
    Pubs were male dominated.
    The decline of the pub,parish church and chapel and all the other community activities have to be indicators of something happening to the Nation.
    Is the Nation evolving positively or is there something more sinister to get to grips with? Surveys are retrospective so when statements are made about change then changes have already happened. Many statements are made about community decline. What is going on?

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  • 45. At 11:36am on 01 Aug 2009, Rick S wrote:

    "Pubs and restaurants are fighting one an other for the few that are still going out."
    Exactly, EnglishCharlie - a number of people are saying that the solution for pubs is to "diversify" (i.e. serve food), but there aren't (and there never were) enough people around who want to, or can afford to, eat out all the time to keep every venue going.
    As a result we're now in a situation where there's less and less choice as to how to spend an evening out. Add the fact that you can't smoke anywhere, and it's no wonder that people would rather eat and drink at home.
    This isn't evolution - it's mutation.

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  • 46. At 11:42am on 01 Aug 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:

    The author of this particular piece must be a product of a "try before you buy" education system. He should have got his money back.

    It would be very convenient to imagine that everything in life evolves as rapidly as entrepreneurs would like to have it. After all, it wasn't that long ago that pubs had an off license counter, and you'd get a return on the bottles you collected. Now you are lucky to find anywhere that resembles an old style pub and recycling is a massive problem. Like most things now "pubs" are driven to make money fast from those with disposal incomes, people who generally have little taste and even less social value apart from the money they spend on having a "good" time. A "good" time was once a drink, smoke and chat in a friendly tavern; now it is a race to see how much alcohol (and heaven knows what else) you can consume before the clubs open or a door supervisor helps you on your way. But, hey, it is healthy not having all that nasty smoke around isn't it?

    Of course the reality, as always with those driven by political agendas, is secondary to the statistics. I am sure, Mr Easton, that deep within that vacuous mass of cut and paste statistics is a grey cell waiting to be discovered. Better luck in finding it next time, Sir, and be a good fellow and check the credentials of that course you did.

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  • 47. At 11:51am on 01 Aug 2009, archoptimist wrote:

    If British pubs are evolving, I, for one hope that many will revert back to the congenial social places affectionately known as the "local" where people could meet to chew the fat, put the world right, enjoy a few drinks, have a snack, take part in a good natured team quiz and then depart in safety to stroll home. No juke boxes,Kareokes, foul mouthed "comedians", teens - 20 somethings puking in the car park or picking fights. Hopefully the dreadful "Slug and Lettuce" type pubs taken over by big companies will go back to being The George and Dragon, The Royal Oak, The Bulls Head, The Wheatsheaf etc with their traditional environment that has been destroyed by the dreadful uniformity of huge alien chains of outlets that are not pubs at all.

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  • 48. At 12:09pm on 01 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    I agree with you Mark - of course the figures are massaged, people are still going out and drinking

    But it was never actually the point of identifying pub closures to show that there were still plenty of places to drink - it was to preserve the old style of pub with its vertical drinking, nothing more

    The people behind the pub lobby merely want to preserve their own culture - tying in arguments about the smoking ban, but in reality the culture is dying out regardless - pubs are as you say, the haunts of the old, they are just engaging in protectionism

    The only issue here is 'is the pub dying?' - if you take it to mean the traditional 'old man' pub then yes it is, drinking culture is evolving - whether you want to define the new culture as the 'modern pub' is a personal choice

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  • 49. At 12:14pm on 01 Aug 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    Poor Makeovers, that's what killed the pubs.Ten's of thousands of pounds spent on ''baby changing facilities'',''digital jukeboxes'' and lurid colour schemes.

    Pubs for daft people who would pay £3+ for a pint.'Pass the vinegar' has become 'pass the nappy'.

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  • 50. At 12:34pm on 01 Aug 2009, CComment wrote:

    #47 has got it right.
    It seems that the money men who constantly try and rip us off and the Nanny Staters who constantly try to socially engineer us have forgotten that "pub" stands for "public house". A place where people of all backgrounds,ages,occupations and opinions can go. Caledonian Comment

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  • 51. At 12:59pm on 01 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    LOL ty joan but why would anyone want to meet an eclectic collection of bloggers like Newspaceman1, Community Criminal, SHLA2UK etc? were just ordinary folks.

    I wonder if tokyo beer will make pubs better. A big pub by us is closing because of the antisocial behavoiur but then thats what they get for changing from a pub to a plub, packing them in to standing room only bound to cause fights with drinks being knocked everywere.

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  • 52. At 2:00pm on 01 Aug 2009, Nik Macve wrote:

    There is this weird belief that all non-smokers don't want to go out anywhere at all. Where does it come from? I've never smoked. I don't want to go in a place where the air makes my throat and lungs sore, eyes water and hair and clothes stink. I don't want to be out all night, every night anyway, but I do enjoy a beer, company and live music. This does not equate to me *wanting* to stay at home all the time. Yes, when I still lived in the UK, I went to pubs less often as time passed, and restaurants a little more. I just seemed to find I enjoyed it more that way, probably I'm getting old, and before the smoking ban, eventually, I stopped going to most pubs at all because I'd just had enough of the smoke. My local had a huge area where you couldn't smoke and I went there often. There were several potentially good pubs, with great music, a few miles away, but even the ones that served alcohol-free beer so I could drive there were just disgustingly smoky and I hated them.

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  • 53. At 8:29pm on 01 Aug 2009, englishcharlie wrote:

    So the only solution to keep everybody happy is to have smoking and non-smoking pubs or separate areas in pubs with good ventilation.

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  • 54. At 00:20am on 02 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Community Criminal,
    Meeting all of you would be great fun. I'd really like to see the men behind the masks so to speak. Normal? Do you really think you're all normal? LOL

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  • 55. At 00:34am on 02 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Here's a local pub saving idea. Between the hours of 3-5pm local school kids can go to get free academic tutoring from pub patrons. I'm sure there must be a mathmetician, history, geography, science and english savant among the patrons. Patron tutors could get 1 pound beers and students could get the help they need. There it's a win-win and you'd be helping your community too.

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  • 56. At 01:25am on 02 Aug 2009, well_spoken wrote:

    "If you can stand at the bar and drink a pint, it is still a pub!" Yes Mr Collins, it's still a pub - but one with inconsiderate idiots standing at the bar obstructing others and preventing them from getting served!

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  • 57. At 03:01am on 02 Aug 2009, merrymarco999 wrote:

    The reality is quite simple:
    1) Big city pubs with standing clientele will always be in business as they have a large catchment area.
    2) Suburban and country pubs need to diversify to glorified burger joints selling watered down Australian lager due to dwindling numbers of punters. This is because the previous local 'regulars' are generally smokers who keep the pub running from Monday through to Thursdays. Without these people the pubs cannot survive. It is all very well complaining about the smokey atmospheres of the 'good ole day' pubs, but if you only go to your local once every 3 weeks on a Saturday night for example, then you are not supporting your local to exist in the first place! This is why they are closing.
    Pass us the ketchup!

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  • 58. At 09:00am on 02 Aug 2009, andie99uk wrote:

    Village pubs are now more food led than wet led these days. As a former publican (I left the job for health reasons, not falling sales) I can see with my own eyes that a lot of pubs were not just evolving, but actually being pulled down or converted to living accomodation.
    Where I now live we have had 3 pubs close in the last 2 years, all but one has been demolished. One to make way for a car park for a well known supermarket and one is in the process of being rebuilt as a block of 20 apartments and shops. The other is sitting there with metal over the windows.

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  • 59. At 12:34pm on 02 Aug 2009, M5J30Exeter wrote:

    Most of the people who come up with this argument are non-smokers ( as I am ) who try too take the blame away from the fact that the good old British boozer demise is due too the banning of smoking.

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  • 60. At 5:24pm on 02 Aug 2009, U14074320 wrote:

    Ques: What are drinking?
    Anser: Buy Out The Bar

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  • 61. At 5:52pm on 02 Aug 2009, Brianofthecam wrote:

    When I first started drinking alcohol over forty years ago, many pubs catered for all. There was a room for everyone, public bar - basic, hard chairs or benches tables and a dart board, skittles and shove 'apenny. This bar was mainly used by workers, where overalls were welcome and card-playing was a nightly event. A smoke room, tap room, a saloon bar which was comfortably furnished (with carpet!) where the "posh" clientel took their WAGS. The provision of food was not high on the agenda, but filled rolls were made available. Coupled with the fact that children were not allowed in any part of the pub, this was a good thing, as it meant people could actually enjoy a quiet drink in the company of their friends. Just imagine how it was; these days it's screaming kids running around during a meal as most of them never sit at table at home to eat and their parents couldn't care less. And almost every pub had a "Bottle & Jug" for a take-home drink. Drunkeness was rare and rowdy patrons were dealt with by real policemen who regularly called in to check for under-age drinkers. The smell of hops and malt has been replaced by that of burgers, onions and chips. For that alone, pubs deserve to close.

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  • 62. At 6:11pm on 02 Aug 2009, Vincent wrote:

    There are several local pubs where I live. To prove a point, if only one were given the choice of allowing and serving smokers and non-smokers together, that pub would take receive most customers.

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  • 63. At 6:17pm on 02 Aug 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    Joan 54, no I don't. I would hate to be normal. To accept going to a public house where one cannot have a cigarette is not normal as far as I am concerned.

    I used to be normal, now I am an outsider, a deviant, no less.

    Although, as stated previously, there are no pubs any more, only places to eat and drink (small quantities of) alcohol.

    THESE ARE NOT PUBS.

    Pubs are where you used to go with your mates to smoke and drink your life away. Now we are stuck at home, corresponding with overseas know-it-alls, who, unfortunately, know very little, yet think they do.

    You ever been to a proper Scottish pub Joan ?

    cheers

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  • 64. At 6:34pm on 02 Aug 2009, BritinLALAland wrote:

    The great British pub is indeed evolving. From a friendly local where everyone knew everyone, where you'd pop in most nights for a couple of pints, few cigs, packet of pork scratchings and a cheeky grin from the barmaid, to what most pubs are becoming now: Family friendly(screaming children careening around while their parents yell at them), food-led(microwaved, over-priced pre-made "meals"), smoke-free(the characters that made the pub great before all stay at home now) Desperately trying to be different("We ain't got no cheese and onion crisps, leek and badger ok?") or chain-owned( laminated menus, acne-riddled stroppy teenagers exhaling pointedly when asked if they could being over more ketchup)soul-less(sky sports on big-screen TV everyone is watching nobody talking)government-regulated(no smoking, wine glasses must be certain size, salt amount in pork pies coming soon)places to go when already bored and want to complete the process. Or, they all closed. Not much of an evolution is it?

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  • 65. At 6:37pm on 02 Aug 2009, U14074320 wrote:

    How about a winner takes all
    fight for equal smoking rights
    Smokers Vs Non-Smokers
    My money is on the firemen
    They've got nothing to lose
    You can call them beserkers

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  • 66. At 6:56pm on 02 Aug 2009, U14074320 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 67. At 7:05pm on 02 Aug 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    55, Joan; again.

    I am a savant on deluded clowns and it wont take me many two hour sessions in the pubroom to teach the pupils how to spot one.

    cheers

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  • 68. At 10:51pm on 02 Aug 2009, Rick S wrote:

    "But it was never actually the point of identifying pub closures to show that there were still plenty of places to drink - it was to preserve the old style of pub with its vertical drinking, nothing more
    The people behind the pub lobby merely want to preserve their own culture - tying in arguments about the smoking ban, but in reality the culture is dying out regardless - pubs are as you say, the haunts of the old, they are just engaging in protectionism"
    I don't quite follow the logic here. If the main feature of traditional pubs is "vertical drinking", how come they are "the haunts of the old"? Senior citizens quite like sitting down to have a drink, particularly if they're on the frail side - and that's why they don't like having to go outside for a cigarette. It was noticeable in my local pub that, shortly after the smoking ban came in, a large number of the older clientele disappeared, never to return.
    "Vertical drinking" is very much a habit of the young, not the old, and is well catered for by the identikit town centre chain bar. What older people want is the comfort of the traditional pub, which is quite the opposite.
    "Engaging in protectionism" is an extraordinary way of describing people wanting to keep the things they like (it's clearly quite disgraceful behaviour for "the old" to dislike the march towards homogenous gastropubs and town centre shouteries). As for the comment "in reality the culture is dying out regardless" - no it isn't. It's being killed - killed by the smoking ban and by the corporate idiots who think that all their pubs should be "modernised" to appeal to twenty- and thirty-somethings who see pubs as cheap places to eat and nothing more (hang your heads in shame, Young & Co).

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  • 69. At 01:18am on 03 Aug 2009, RadioRogerL wrote:

    What a load of cobblers. Just the inevitable consequence of a government determined to wipe out any sense of culture, or belonging, in their desire to exercise "control". Fortunately it will not be long before they are history, but the damage will remain.

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  • 70. At 02:28am on 03 Aug 2009, forgottenukcitizen wrote:

    Well the smoking ban hasnt helped thats for sure, but the real reasons are a bit more in depth.

    It would help if the breweries actually had a vested interest in keeping the pubs open, but they dont any more.
    They see their real market now as selling cheap (often subsidised) beer to the supermarkets.

    Ironically, because of the pub tie, it costs my land lord more money to purchase his stock from the brewery company than to go & purchase it from the local super market (which he cant do).

    Pubs might be closing, but the quantity of alcohol being sold is rising along with alcohol related diseases.
    Where as pubs provide some sort of controlled environment to drink, nobodies around to police home drinking.
    Not that the Government care as long as they get their tax take.

    It never ceases to amaze me how anti social the British are becoming compared with other countries.
    My town has become a commuter town & people often have to travel many miles to & from work.
    When they get back, they dont have the energy any more to go to pubs, where as a few years ago, many worked locally & would like to pop out for a couple of drinks to unwind.

    My own belief it that the Government, over the last 20 years, has done everything it can to break up communities of any description, so the pub decline is favourable to them.
    Thats why they hate the lack of control they have over the internet.

    Sorry Mark, but I think you have been taken in by more Labour spin if you believe these figures.
    I believe what I see, & thats pubs closing all the time.

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  • 71. At 02:43am on 03 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Newspaceman1
    Oh how you make me laugh Newspaceman1. You're so funny and you don't even know it. A deluded clown in the circus of your deviant mind. Beautiful!

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  • 72. At 03:35am on 03 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    MMMMMMMMMMM! Let me see. Scottish pubs with Scottish clowns. No can't say I've ever been to one. But I've certainly spoken to one.

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  • 73. At 06:36am on 03 Aug 2009, Theodore-H-Biscuit wrote:

    A quick point. In your article you opined that:

    "You may disagree with the new licensing laws, the taxes on alcohol and the smoking ban. You may mourn the demise of old-fashioned tobacco-stained drinking dens. But you could equally argue that the legislation is doing exactly what it was intended to do."

    Surely the smoking ban was introduced to protect bar workers from the risks of passive smoking.

    Of course, none of us actually believed this in the first place.

    Now that the ban has been passed, it seems that the gloves are off and the real reason behind the ban is being more openly admitted. Underhand, vile and undemocratic. (Undemocratic because the public servants that we appoint have lied to us.)

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  • 74. At 07:22am on 03 Aug 2009, Swiss_Jo wrote:

    I've lived outside of the UK for over 20 years, and have read with interest this blog about the decline of the great English pub tradition. The smoking debate is a valid one, but the question of law vs. choice seems to me to be more important. Smoking is not (yet) illegal, but the law now no longer allows adults free will to choose the type of enviornment in which they socialise.

    But I shouldn't be surprised. You have a PM you didn't vote for, a realtionship with the EU that even the most "visionary" of voters in 1973 couldn't have imagined and more cameras spying on you than the rest of Europe put together.

    Democracy? Choices? Look in the mirror folks...

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  • 75. At 09:25am on 03 Aug 2009, englishcharlie wrote:

    Since whem was a pub a health centre?

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  • 76. At 11:45am on 03 Aug 2009, Isenhorn wrote:

    Swiss-Jo,

    The problem with G. Brown not being voted for only became a problem when the economic crisis reared its ugly head. I wonder why this was not a problem when the PM took office or whether it would have become a problem at all, if the boom years had continued?

    As to the cameras- I hope they would instal one in front of my house. Then I will be able to see who people are who allow their dogs to foul my front garden.
    :-)

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  • 77. At 12:52pm on 03 Aug 2009, Red Lenin wrote:

    I was in the pub trade for over 10 years until recently. The local pub is invariably a tenancy as opposed to a managed house.

    Two things have destroyed the 'local' - both deliberate and both entirely avoidable.

    1. The 'Tie' and the Beer Order. Breweries should not under any circumstances be allowed to own pubs. It is a conflict of interests and the customer is given a raw deal as a result. Pub Companies (PubCo's) should not be allowed to tie tenants into supply contracts nor should they be allowed to dictate what brands a tenant can or cannot sell. All a PubCo should be allowed to do is basically be a commercial property landlord and that's it.

    2. Smoking. An appalingly thought-out ban. The obvious answer was to give pubs a choice - food or fags but not both. That in turn gives customers the choice. Want to go to a pub that's non-smoking? Go to one that serves meals. Doesn't matter if it's outside meal times, if it serves meals even for 5 minutes a day then smoking is never allowed. If it doesn't serve meals then smoking is allowed. For those worried about passive smoking by staff, forced air systems are available and were being used in a lot of places anyway, that direct smoke away from the bar area.

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  • 78. At 2:00pm on 03 Aug 2009, cping500 wrote:

    Last night I went to a pub. Yes it does serve food.... yes it does have cask beers (but the cricket viewers had drunk almost all of it).and lagers too. Yes there were a fair number of men over 30 chatting and I exchanged some banter. There was a small group of a two couples in their twenties and friend.... AND it had an outdoor smoking area built out over the stream, not used last night, (though it was heated!) but on a previous occasion well filled. Of course its a summer sort of thing the provision is not unique.

    Up the road in a more traditional area there are still three 'near' wet pubs of various degrees of respectability within 50 yards of each other all of which serve some sort of food and the patrons seem to know each other even if they sit down. The talk recalled early 'Coronation Street' so it was a good laugh.

    These pubs of course remind me that these locals' old function used to be getting men out of the (poor) housing into a more comfortable male world while their women struggled to keep life and the children together at home.

    It's life that has evolved not pubs.

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  • 79. At 3:32pm on 03 Aug 2009, gibbon_plinth wrote:

    24. At 4:46pm on 31 Jul 2009, SHLA2UK wrote:

    "It is not necessarily the 'pub' that was wonderful, but the concept, and the smoking ban had a huge effect on that."

    A pub is a 'concept'?

    "No smoking in pubs means that the smoking population will just stay at home."

    I'll say it again, if the 'concept' and the company in the pub was that fantastic, your nicotine addiction would not make that much of a difference.

    "The non-smoking population (and I'm generalising against my better judgement) tend to stay at home anyway,"

    You admit this is a generalisation and then use it as the basis of your argument.

    If, as you say, the pubs really are funded purely by nicotine addiction, I'd say it's better for that they do close.

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  • 80. At 3:59pm on 03 Aug 2009, darthjohnson wrote:

    Sir, your comments are nothing more than government-sponsored spin.

    The traditional British pub is dying out. The fact that the number of places licensed to sell alcohol is increasing (as you claim, after significant data manipulation) has nothing to do with pubs.

    The only thing I have seen pubs in my area "evolve" into is either empty buildings, or Mosques.

    The pub used to be the hub of the community, where people could go and discuss the local (and national) goings-on, and decide what (if anything) they wanted to do about it. It seems that this tradition is what is actually under attack, not places licenced to sell booze.

    There are plenty of "establishments" in my town that play deafeningly-loud music. These places have suffered no restrictions apart from the smoking ban. They are allowed to open much later than most other places.

    At the other end of the town, the more traditional pubs where loud music is not played, not only have to suffer the smoking ban, but are limited by the local Labour council to the number of customers that are allowed to congregate outside the pub. They have to close much earlier than the noisy pubs, and are constantly being threatened by the local Labour council about "undesirable" actions (not "crimes", or the police would be involved).

    So don't give me any of your old trap about pubs not being under threat. You are nothing more than the foul mouth of Labour.

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  • 81. At 4:28pm on 03 Aug 2009, 46and2 wrote:

    The fact that there are no properly published statistics on this issue suggests to me that there are people on both sides of the debate who don't want the results known. For more than ten years, the pub industry has been on a slow decline and they have been trying all kinds of things (such as crappy food) to encourage more patrons. Pubs closed, pubs opened, both before and after the smoking ban. Three of my local pubs closed a solid year before the ban came in - everyone knows a pub that has closed and it is blind ignorance that blames this event while they ignore those that closed before and those that opened after.

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  • 82. At 5:50pm on 03 Aug 2009, Its_an_Outrage wrote:

    The 'traditional pub' died years ago. I still go to the pub, but not nearly as often as I used to. The reason? The deafening volume of other people's choice of music makes conversation impossible. I'm not a prude, Like most people, I swear. But the inconsiderate behaviour and constant stream of foul language from the drunks at the bar simply makes for an unpleasant experience. And I don't like children running around and making a noise while I'm having a drink.
    The 'traditional pub', long gone, was not like that.
    If you're wondering why 50-60 year olds don't go to the pub as often, that's the reason. But no doubt it's easier to run a noisy dump than to run a decent pub.

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  • 83. At 11:19pm on 03 Aug 2009, Frederick Walters wrote:

    There used to be three pubs within walking distance of my house. One of them has been demolished and flats built, one of them is boarded up (flats pending), and the third is now a Chinese wine bar. That's evolution?

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  • 84. At 11:32pm on 03 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    Rick S

    "If the main feature of traditional pubs is "vertical drinking", how come they are "the haunts of the old"? Senior citizens quite like sitting down to have a drink, particularly if they're on the frail side - and that's why they don't like having to go outside for a cigarette. It was noticeable in my local pub that, shortly after the smoking ban came in, a large number of the older clientele disappeared, never to return.
    "Vertical drinking" is very much a habit of the young, not the old, and is well catered for by the identikit town centre chain bar. What older people want is the comfort of the traditional pub, which is quite the opposite."

    I think you take the vertical drinking line a bit too far, I should have said wet-led - there are usually plenty of bar stools and seats to sit on, although most of the 50-something brigade like to stand around in front of the bar in my local, the vertical drinking aspect is not the point - food just has to be limited to overpriced crisps

    "Engaging in protectionism" is an extraordinary way of describing people wanting to keep the things they like (it's clearly quite disgraceful behaviour for "the old" to dislike the march towards homogenous gastropubs and town centre shouteries). As for the comment "in reality the culture is dying out regardless" - no it isn't. It's being killed - killed by the smoking ban and by the corporate idiots who think that all their pubs should be "modernised" to appeal to twenty- and thirty-somethings who see pubs as cheap places to eat and nothing more (hang your heads in shame, Young & Co).

    Sounds like protectionism to me, but I never meant to imply that was a bad thing - wanting to 'keep things they like', a theme repeated time and time again in this thread, is quite clearly protecting a culture because they don't want to lose it - it's protecting the status quo, I happen to like some old man pubs, and some do very good business but it doesn't mean I can't see change - I never said it was disgraceful, it's merely an observation of the situation, you are the one who is judging 'homogeneous gastropubs'

    Place the shoe on the other foot, if younger generations prefer a different style of drinking then that's their choice - they may well be manipulated by mass marketing and corporate propaganda but welcome to modern life, they have chosen the chain pubs - market forces and all that - there is no wrong or right way to do it, of course people should feel free to defend their pubs, but condemning new drinking establishments is just subjective opinion and evidence of a dislike of change

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  • 85. At 00:55am on 04 Aug 2009, olegrumpy2009 wrote:

    statistics is a fascinating field.... particularly when you take it to bits

    what is the sample size on which you give your opinion?

    you give a reference yet do not reference the number of people who were asked the question "how often did you visit pubs before the smoking restrictions? " stc was it 10? 100? 1000? 50000? is it a statistically significant number? or simply an anti-smoking journalist's excitement at new statistics that they clearly do not understand?

    eg You don't include the number of former smokers who are now non-smokers in those statistics that you quote, yet you assume that all smokers are now still smokers, however alternative statistics have shown that the number of smokers have declined.

    i suggest....just off the top of my head that you will find that the number of people who appear to have ceased going to the pub is roughly equal to the number of ex-smokers who have given up and still go to the pub

    and also, as you so rightly pointed out peoples definition of a pub is different, so what is the definition of a pub in the statistics that you quoted from "how often did you visit pubs before the smoking restrictions? "

    a pub is different from a restaurant, a bar, a cafe, a cafe-bar, and a nightclub. These things have seperate definitions, use them! A pub as in a public house - may or may not serve food, no point splitting hairs. however the number of public houses is in decline in this country, the number of licenced premises may well be on the increase but surely that is not the same thing!

    next time check your stats a bit closer and stop following the company (government) line!!

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  • 86. At 04:12am on 04 Aug 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:

    Shortly before the parliamentary vote on the anti-smoking bill I wrote to my MP expressing my distaste for the proposal not to offer smokers establishments that could be clearly identified as "smoking pubs". She agreed and said that she would be voting against the Government proposals.

    Following the vote I wrote again to check why she had not spoken during the debate. She advised me that there had been pressure on her not to vote against the Government. She abstained as did around fifty other MPs.

    So this was not a popular bill even amongst our MPs. Recently, in discussion on a related topic, my MP declared that she was very concerned about the number of pub closures in her constituency and the detrimental effect it was having on community life. Clearly she now regrets her abstention.

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  • 87. At 08:20am on 04 Aug 2009, smudgerdangrade wrote:

    It is true the British Pub is evolving ,But what into?

    The local pub where old and young mixed is dissappearing to be replaced with through the night drinking places in town centres.
    There is no influence on the younger ends drinking habits by the older sensible peer groups in this enviroment as they don't go.

    This means that the younger end can get as drunk as they like with no controls in place to look after them.

    We are then suprised when we hear reports on a Saturday morning of Stabbing and gun crime as a result of uncontrolled drinking ,encouraged might i add by the unsrupulous bar owners that get cheap booze from the criminal fraternity .

    A good example of this is Huddersfield town centre in West Yorkshire.

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  • 88. At 09:18am on 04 Aug 2009, gibbon_plinth wrote:

    @87:
    "This means that the younger end can get as drunk as they like with no controls in place to look after them."

    That's not supposed to be the case, though, is it? Alcohol is not supposed to be served to anyone who is already drunk. If pubs were behaving as they should, this would be controlled.

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  • 89. At 12:36pm on 04 Aug 2009, DeniseCullum222 wrote:

    When I was a child Liverpool had a pub on each corner shops locally post officers and the city centre was were went sometimes to get something special now we have empty city centre, pubs closing all over the place few post offices they are evolving into nothing. We have the Duke of Westminster shopping mall with everything in it it is like any other place a shopping experiance for depression. We have few local shops soon to have a huge Tescos which will have the post office in it so we can get pensions and benefits and spend it on the way out as they will put the PO at the back of the store. We are being socially controlled and drinking at home is becoming the norm as no pub can compete with cheap booze supermarket and all you need is mindless television watch the news it in mind numbing on all stations or the internet were you can make pretend friends while hobby bobby's control the crime, welcome to dumb Britian.

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  • 90. At 2:16pm on 04 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    58. At 09:00am on 02 Aug 2009, andie99uk wrote:
    "...I can see with my own eyes that a lot of pubs were not just evolving, but actually being pulled down or converted to living accomodation...all but one has been demolished...to make way for a car park...a block of 20 apartments and shops..."

    and where I live, I can think of 3 pubs, good old community pubs, large, with gardens, and kids areas, 2 of those were restaurant pubs, and now all three are McBurger restaurants - now there's progress

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  • 91. At 2:23pm on 04 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    54. At 00:20am on 02 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:
    "...Meeting all of you would be great fun. I'd really like to see the men behind the masks so to speak. Normal? Do you really think you're all normal? LOL..."

    Joan, what a great idea.
    It would be great to get everyone here together, in a bar / pub / plub / club / tavern / inn / restaurant / McBurger bar and put the world to rights. We could enjoy a drink, face to face, pop outside (unless the law changes) for a ciggy, maybe even order a burger and onion rings or bufallo wings with dips. Yes, seeing everyone face to face would be great and we could have a proper discussion.

    Oh, hang on, is that not what we're saying is missing. Maybe we could start a new craze - go to the pub, and talk to people.

    Wow, what a concept. If you find a venue, Joan, be sure to invite me :)

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  • 92. At 3:02pm on 04 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    79. At 3:32pm on 03 Aug 2009, gibbon_plinth wrote:
    "...A pub is a 'concept'?.."

    Yes.
    The idea of a pub - public house - is a place where people of all walks of life (public) can meet in a place (house) where they can drink a beer or other beverage, and talk together, socialise and pass the time. To me, that is a concept. I don't understand how you can dispute that.

    "...I'll say it again, if the 'concept' and the company in the pub was that fantastic, your nicotine addiction would not make that much of a difference..."

    You're not allowing for choice. My nicotine addition is not in question. My choice is. The pub lost a lot of its' custom due to not being able to smoke any longer. I hear that from many - more than half - of the ex-customers I meet and question. They simply stay at home. The knock-on effect is that, from those customers who remain, many do in fact smoke, but during the summer, are bearing the situation out, and smoking outside, but the atmosphere, with less people there, is not so good. The 'concept' of a pub is where people meet and chat. The pub has been killed, and less people go there, so the atmosphere is rubbish most of the time.

    "...You admit this is a generalisation and then use it as the basis of your argument..."

    Yes, a bad argument, I admit - but I admitted it when I wrote it. The point I was trying to make, and was a little too over generalisitic with my words, was that the majority of people, in my experience, who I met in pubs, were smokers. Now, I meet no-one, because the pubs (apart from the Fri / Sat night theme bars) are mostly empty. I can only assume, from that, that the pub is losing favour, and not even the non-smokers are there, so where are you all.

    You aren't in the pub. You aren't supporting the pub. You seem to expect it just to be there every once in a blue moon that you do go.

    "If, as you say, the pubs really are funded purely by nicotine addiction, I'd say it's better for that they do close..."

    Please show me where I said, and I quote, 'pubs really are funded purely by nicotine addiction'. What I suggested (not stated, but suggested) was that pubs have been traditionally a place to drink and smoke. No smoking in pubs might have made them nicer places for non-smokers to be, but to the detriment of the smoker, and the pub. Many smokers now seem to be staying at home and the pubs are empty, so where are the non-smokers - they aren't in the pub.

    And one final question to everyone. Whether the pub is dying or evolving or metamorphosing, where does a single guy go to meet like minded people if we're all to stay at home now. I lost my partner, a few years ago, to cancer (that is a fact, not a smoking related statistic, so do not quote it back to me as such - I lost my partner - died - not a subject to be discussed), but the point is, how do I meet people, as friends, or possibly more, in a restaurant (table for 1 sir?) or a library, or a cafe, or Tesco. Come on people. Give us back our free choice.


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  • 93. At 3:55pm on 04 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear SHLA2UK
    That's the point exactly dear man. Maybe the problem is that younger people relate in a different way than older people (Me late 1950's). When they go to a pub/bar they're out to get laid whereas older people enjoy communicating, discussing the world. The styles are very different. Young people quickly assess who they're talking to and if deemed innapropriate, they quickly move on whereas older people seem a bit more inclusive than that. I think bars /pubs need to cast a wider net because young people's lives are different these days. Maybe pubs are dying because communication is changing?

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  • 94. At 4:27pm on 04 Aug 2009, BornCynic wrote:

    Before the smoking ban, the usual suspects moaned on about why they never went to to the pub, and decrying everyone else that supported it. OK so you got your way. Where are you now? Certainly not in the pub, that's for sure. Had you been true to your words, the pubs have still flourished, but no, you've probably gone on to whinge about some other unimportant factor that needs nannying.

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  • 95. At 4:40pm on 04 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    93. At 3:55pm on 04 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:
    "...That's the point exactly dear man. Maybe the problem is that younger people relate in a different way than older people (Me late 1950's). When they go to a pub/bar they're out to get laid whereas older people enjoy communicating, discussing the world..."

    True, but hasn't that always been the way. In the 80s, when I was in my 20s, I used to go to lively pubs. Now, in my 40s, I still enjoy the lively atmosphere, but I also enjoy places where we can talk.

    We need choice.

    I admit that maybe my views are biased due to the fact that I'm recently single again, and pubs closing, evolving or metamorphosing into something else, isn't going to help my plight!!! I ain't going to find that new person in my life while sitting in a restaurant alone or doing my weekly shop.

    "...The styles are very different..."
    Yep, and they always were, and always will be. Again, that is the reason for the need of choice.

    "...Young people quickly assess who they're talking to and if deemed innapropriate, they quickly move on whereas older people seem a bit more inclusive than that...I think bars /pubs need to cast a wider net because young people's lives are different these days. Maybe pubs are dying because communication is changing?.."

    Again, always has been the way, but the pub, the way it was, was a great leveller. Everyone was equal - to a point - in a pub. Yes, communication is evolving and that is a whole new subject. Will the human evolve to be an anti-social, non-verbal communicating, plugged into the internet, solitary bore?

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  • 96. At 7:46pm on 04 Aug 2009, thtone wrote:

    Try Micobrewery Pubs for a bit of interesting comment.

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  • 97. At 9:53pm on 04 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear SHLA2UK,
    Does your name stand for Shanghai, Los Angeles 2 U.K.?
    I think the whole meeting someone is difficult, pub or not. And being the great equalizer, I'm not sure because I think people, especially men scope out the person they'd like to talk to in a bar beforehand because I think it has to do with their pee wee. Pubs and alcohol just make the initial contact easier. Why men and women can't form easier connections is worrisome. No one really knows anyone or the family anymore because the village no longer exists. Pubs are very discriminatory places especially to outsiders. Can't sit there that's so and so's seat! People claim their territory even in public places. I don't know. Maybe society needs a new ,better model not based on cigarettes and drunkeness. Like eveything else why wouldn't pubs evolve?

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  • 98. At 10:30pm on 04 Aug 2009, Mike Stanford-Eyre wrote:

    I suspect the number of licences may be rising due mr brown insiting that every premises/ scout hut/ village cricket pavillion etc had to get a full licence as a money grabbing exercise even if they only used them part of the year or once a year in the village fete etc I m sure I read of an outcry about this so I am suspicious of any government research
    I blame the WMD misinformation Or do you still believe them on this??? and the lies over Eurpoean referrendums it was in their manifesto unlike all the stealth taxes.

    so can never believe any of this hopeless governments attempts to spin.


    I know there is something wrong with your stats

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  • 99. At 10:26am on 05 Aug 2009, JackSh1t wrote:

    Smoker's aren't evolving.. they're dying.

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  • 100. At 10:59am on 05 Aug 2009, Air-Hair-Lair wrote:

    The analysis is incorrect, based on an erroneous premise. A pub is not about an alcohol or entertainment licence, it is about a community facility. And "the great British pub (GBP)" in the past has always been the centre of community life (viz: Rover's Return, Woolpack, Queen Vic, et al), that is why they feature in books, films and soap operas.

    The GBP has not evolved. A comparison might be that the red squirrels have not "evolved" into grey squirrels, they are being wiped out by the grey interloper. The GBP has been driven out of existence by the hardy predator which takes over its feeding ground, and then changes it irrevocably.

    The new licences are not for GBP's - they are to create an environment hostile to the GBP, hostile to communities. Where once a suburban pub was a centre for the residents, creating commuity contact for all adult age groups, it is now a disco/club for the wider surrounding area, and for a single demographic group, often bringing in party-goers who would never behave in the "modern" way on their own doorsteps - thus the locals are first driven out, and then flagrantly confronted with something over which they have no say or choice.

    Thus, the community serving GBP is gone - the nasty, community busting "club" has wiped it out.

    And who is to blame?

    A Government for making an obtuse controlling law, and Local Authorities for implementing the Licensing Law in a way that took no account of community needs.

    Thus lies Communism.

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  • 101. At 11:29am on 05 Aug 2009, chottomattekudasai wrote:

    As Churchill said, there are "Lies, damn lies and statistics."
    Here's a snapshot from on the ground around here:
    The Load of Hay. Demolished.
    The Prince of Wales. Demolished.
    Manning's Lounge. Closed for six months. Who knows what's happening?
    The White Bear. Now a pizza hut.
    The Prince Albert. Demolished.
    The Horse and Groom. Indian Restaurant with flats above.
    The Coach and Horses. Closed. Private dwelling.
    Jack Straw's Castle. Closed. Private dwelling.
    The King of Prussia. Closed. Posh frock shop.
    The Cruel Sea. Closed. Estate Agents.
    The Horseshoes. Gastro-pub.
    The Wells. Gastro pub.
    The Bird in Hand. Closed. Now Cafe Rouge.
    And so it goes on....

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  • 102. At 12:00pm on 05 Aug 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    You mean evolving in to extinction. What a typical london centric atittude.

    Go to any pub in the UK and you will find a far larger majority of people there are smokers than in the general population. In fact i'd say it was well over 50%.

    As these people have been unfairly discriminated against, so much so in fact it is a strange situation when EU law contradicts its own human rights legislation, that they no lnoger go to the pub.

    Whats the point? Pubs serve to purpose anymore. So they are dying and will never come back.

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  • 103. At 12:33pm on 05 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    97. At 9:53pm on 04 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:
    "...Does your name stand for Shanghai, Los Angeles 2 U.K.?.."

    Ah-ha - you're not far from the mark, but I've never been to Shanghai so that bit's wrong. The SH is my initials, LA is the place, 2 (going to) the UK - it's a long story, suffice to say, many years ago, I was stuck in LA waiting for a flight that had gone tech on the inbound and was surfing the interwebnet - I needed a nickname and there was I, in LA, waiting to go to the UK, and so SHLA2UK was born.

    Anyway, that was a little off-topic - apologies mods, but to get back on track, yes, you're right, a meeting other than in this e-world of BBC blogs is unlikely - I think you are in the US, correct?

    However, I don't agree with your analogy of the pub being simply a pick-up joint - that's not the case in my experience. There are bars like that but in general, that is not what a local is about.

    It's also about community, friends, a place for social meeting. More often, it is these community bars that are suffering the most. It is those bars that need to evolve, but evolution should be gradual, not so sudden that it is seen as drastic change.

    I think this might be close the core of this subject - pubs aren't dying, they're evolving - but I have to disagree with the way that they are evolving. That sudden evolution is resulting in the death of the GBP (thanks to Air-Hair-Lair for the acronym).

    In reality, there is no longer such a thing as the GBP - our pubs are very diverse. There has been an explosion in themed bars, gastro-pubs, venue-style entertainment bars, music and music-less pubs, traditional ale houses and wine-bars, going back to the 80s I suppose. Is it then, true to say, that this explosion has been too fast? Too much diversity too quickly?

    Evolution should be natural, and at natures pace. In hindsight, it seems that we have been trying to force an issue with our pubs for 20+ years, and this is the result - we've killed off the GBP.

    I'm not going back on my earlier arguments - the smoking law has played its part in that demise, but it would appear also that there are other factors, not least the most recent 'credit crunch'.

    "...Why men and women can't form easier connections is worrisome. No one really knows anyone or the family anymore because the village no longer exists..."

    So true - people don't meet people any more - we brush past them on the street, we might be forced onto the train / tube / metro / subway with them or have to queue / stand in line for our groceries with them, but we don't meet them, except in pubs.

    The traditional bar IS a universal leveller. I've travelled the world in my job, and personally, and when I arrive in a new place, I check out the local bars, and inevitabley meet local people, some of whom I'm still friends with today, from all over the world. I don't find them all so closed to outsiders - many are welcoming and friendly - that is their purpose after all. You make it sound like that scene from American Werewolf in London - where the guys walk into that pub on the moors, and everyone stops, the pool balls stop clattering, the darts stop in mid flight, and the bar falls silent because a new piece of meat has walked in. Do you find bars so predatory? Maybe you're using the wrong bars!

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  • 104. At 1:16pm on 05 Aug 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    SHLA2UK

    Check out the Dipsomania Societies website, you may like it:
    http://www.dipsomaniasociety.com/

    They also have a Facebook group if you're on there, just type Dipsomania Society into the search bar.

    For those who don't already know, Dipsomania is an intense persistent desire to drink alcoholic beverages to excess.

    This is a group some of my friends started up when we were at Sixth Form College, the idea was to try out all of the pubs & bars in our local area (Merseyside) and then to share our opinions of them with the group, a bit like the Michelin Guide but for the sort of places Michelin would never go near.

    Since many of us went to University it also grew to include the various places we'd gone to study and there are now members from all over the country.

    The group now organises regular trips around the country where the members try out as many of the pubs as they can find, there's also been a few trips over to Germany for the Oktoberfest and other such events. Some of my favourites have been the visits to some of our Breweries; even though I don't drink alcohol any more I love finding out the different techniques breweries use to make their drinks.
    It's only a bit of fun but there's some good information on there, as well as a few quizzes and games.

    It's very tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken seriously, we used to have a lecturer at college who used to spend most lessons telling us all about the dangers of alcohol and she labelled a few of my friends Dipsomaniacs because they used to go for a pint and a game of pool most days at lunch-time so it was a bit of a teenage rebellion thing but has now become a way for many of us to keep in touch now we're all grown up with jobs & other responsibilities.
    It's all a bit studentesque but as you're ex-forces and an ex-copper I doubt you're likely to be offended by any of the dark humour.

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  • 105. At 2:09pm on 05 Aug 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    Evolution in the caveman's pub ?? Shouldn't pubs then,have evolved a pint of Smoker's Tobacco Brew by now,...... and a pint of Smoker's TobaccoLite Brew ??

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  • 106. At 2:42pm on 05 Aug 2009, Eviscera wrote:

    I go to a pub because I appreciate a nice fresh bitter in comfortable surroundings with my friends. Unfortunately pubs have evolved to serve cheap beer that tastes bad so it is hard to find anywhere to go.

    I don't understand why smokers don't go out any more. Many of my friends smoke and they manage to socialise without smoking inside. Is this a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face for some smokers?

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  • 107. At 4:23pm on 05 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    104. At 1:16pm on 05 Aug 2009, Secratariat wrote:
    "...Check out the Dipsomania Societies website, you may like it:..."

    I have and I do
    Not so sure about why you might think I'd be interested in Dipsomania though - do I give that impression? :)

    It's ok - I see the funny side - it's one of those words that seems to suit what it means. Another one I like, in the same vein, is alabandical.

    I go out on Friday nights intending to get totally alabandic (not really - just using the word in context)

    The brewery visits are fun - I like a good brewery trip, and like you say, you don't need to partake to get some enjoyment from it. I've done a few brewery tours - (in my other ex-job - publican) and in my opinion, I believe that the day the breweries were forced to give up their ownership was the day things began going wrong, and the rest of the demise was fueled by the same woodpile burning as far as I'm concerned.

    Pubs aren't evolving, they're just changing. Evolution is based on the 'survivalist' instinct of nature. We are not forcing evolution, but are simply changing pubs. A time will come when there will be no more community pubs, no more social outlets for people, but we'll have a restaurant or brasserie on every corner.

    My local closes on Monday 10th August, reopening later as a Grill / Restaurant in the middle of a housing estate. The last night will be Sunday and everyone is planning a night to remember. There are memories being destroyed, happy times, couples met there, friends will disperse likely to never meet again. Sad times. Very sad times.

    The owners say that the pub isn't making money. Simple maths - outgoings are exceeding income on a regular basis and business has become unsustainable. But, as I see it, it is partly their fault. They're never there. They don't take an interest in the customers. They don't drive the business, but seem to expect it to be self-sustaining. They deserve to lose their business, but we don't deserve to lose our community pub.

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  • 108. At 4:49pm on 05 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear SHLA2UK,
    The process of evolution doesn't take into consideration people's wishes and desires. It can happen fast when populations are stressed or slow. Maybe what your really feeling is the change in demographics. Maybe foreigners don't drink the same way as the Brits therefore you would see a decline in two ways. The first as the coal mining, ship building, factory workers generation slowly dies off and second, opening up of the European Union period began, coupled with a healthier lifestyles approach. I think this problem could have more to do with changing demographics than anti smoking policies.
    Perhaps you're pining for how England used to be from your childhood not how its evolved.
    P.S. I was born without wisdom teeth. That's evolutionary.
    P.S.S. Squirrels climb vertically up my wall where I live. Is that an adaptation to the walnuts I leave out for them to feed on? Will their descendents be vertical wall climbers too?

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  • 109. At 6:24pm on 05 Aug 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    SHLA2UK wrote:
    Not so sure about why you might think I'd be interested in Dipsomania though - do I give that impression? :)


    You know what they say, great minds think alike, or is it fools seldom differ ?
    Either way you sound like the kind of guy who would like the Dipso's.

    Sorry to hear about your local, at least you're getting a bar & grill to replace it, my two favourite locals are now apartments.


    The brewery tours are always fun. When I was a bartender I was lucky to get invited to do a tour of some of the small Scottish distilleries with my boss, we did 12 of them over 9 days and got to experience the delights of some of the best whiskeys the world has ever seen.
    I was still drinking back then and I love single malt Scotch so it was my idea of a perfect holiday. I was amazed to find that some of them have one Master Distiller who has two or three assistants working with him and that is pretty much the whole operation as far as making the whiskey goes.
    One we visited had the same Master Distiller who had been distilling for them for over 40 years and he was able to give us some whiskey to try that he had helped make when he was a trainee in the 1950s, I bet you don't get that sort of thing in the mass-market production facilities.

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  • 110. At 9:01pm on 05 Aug 2009, thereisntamembername wrote:

    Its simple really - the good old fashioned British pub is seen to be typically full of men (to be exact 'White, British'), and as such it is only a matter of time before it is closed as an unacceptable place that doesn't give equal opportunity to all.

    Ms. Harman will realise this, as soon as she is done with all her other quests; the place once branded as a 'pub' must ensure that there is an equal mix of customers from each gender, sexuality, race and whatever other variant you can think of, before it can open.

    Once it does; the equal mix of bar-staff must take it in turns to serve, to prevent a situation arising where female bar-staff appear to be working harder than male bar-staff, or male bar-staff are given a greater opportunity to earn tips by serving more people.

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  • 111. At 00:19am on 06 Aug 2009, stnylan wrote:

    Mark, perhaps when you have finished venerating at the alter of St Tony and kissing the chalice of Gordon Brown, you might ask yourself a simple question: why, if what you say is true, is the rural pub rapidly either turning into a restaurant, or being made extinct.

    I suppose you care not a jot for the rural communities dying up and downt he country. After all, BBC man that you are, what care you for what goes on outside the home counties.

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  • 112. At 00:57am on 06 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    102 bigsammyb

    You mean evolving in to extinction. What a typical london centric atittude.

    Go to any pub in the UK and you will find a far larger majority of people there are smokers than in the general population. In fact i'd say it was well over 50%.

    ----

    'Any' pub - oh dear

    you need some proof, or at least some statistics - it is perhaps highly probable but to say every single pub will have this amount is just asking for trouble

    All I need to do is point to a local pub that banned smoking several years ago (long before the ban) when the new owners didn't feel like coughing all day - your point is just conjecture

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  • 113. At 03:27am on 06 Aug 2009, mike wrote:

    The decline in pubs isn't a one issue cause i.e. the ban on smoking. The decline has been happening for many years. People are more mobile than 20-30 years ago and thus more adventurous in their tastes.
    Another factor is the decline in profitability and increased costs associated with running a pub. Thirty years ago my father looked at owning a pub, the costs were relatively low. Nowadays it is at least 100K to buy most pubs. Banks won't lend you that kind of money unless you can prove business acumen and experience.
    Pub management is a time-consuming business-you don't get holidays and you work unsociable hours for very little reward. It is comparable to owning and work a corner shop. This I believe is a huge factor! Owning a pub involves investing a lot of capital with an unpredictable turnover. As an accountant/financial advisor I have always advised friends and clients that the returns from owning a pub are not worth the risk.
    Working in a warehouse at 40 hours a week, gives you a better living and life-style than owning a pub.

    The changes in pubs and bars are pretty much evident in the US. The pub is discouraged, whereas the family friendly restaurant bar is encouraged via local licensing laws.
    People want something new. Most pubs are dated and unwelcoming-smoke screen windows. Regulars are one thing, but replacing the regulars is a major problem. A pub that has had the same clients for 30 years will struggle as the clients slowly shuffle away.
    The point is pubs and places to drink are evolving to reflect consumers tastes-it is the consumer that is causing the change. I can testify that pubs were closing 20 years ago and accelerated further in the nineties. A pub is an expensive business and not as desirable as years ago. Hence why most new pubs are owned by chains who can exercise economies of scale to make profit!

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  • 114. At 04:05am on 06 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Thank You Tigermilkboy for solving the riddle of pub closures. I feel like DUH! it makes perfect sense. Why didn't I think of that?

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  • 115. At 10:14am on 06 Aug 2009, expatinnetherlands wrote:

    Some may call it "progress", I call it a sad loss to the British heritage and the local communities that they served.

    The freedom to enjoy a pint and a smoke in the friendly public bar at the Seven Stars, Royal Oak or the Beehive has been taken away from me.

    What type of sterile, pseudo-safe lifestyle have we let them impose on us?

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  • 116. At 10:17am on 06 Aug 2009, sid wrote:

    What rubbish. Pubs and restaurants are 2 completely different things, even if they do both sell alcohol and thus both get tracked by the licensing authority.

    This is like saying "if there's less trees and more bracken in the woods than last year, the trees must be evolving into bracken". After all both trees and bracken are presumably looked after by the forestry commission.

    Pubs are closing. Restaurants are opening. There is no underlying consumer trend driving it. People haven't changed their preferences. They just don't have the choice to go to the pub for a drink, which they would prefer, so they end up going for a meal instead.

    Why does the BBC insist on spending our license fee in producing such ridiculous articles, unsuccessfully defending the government's outlandish attacks on our way of life?

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  • 117. At 11:01am on 06 Aug 2009, Hotjam69 wrote:

    The complainants on this page need to come into the 21st century. My local pub was a dingy dive full of old men and smoke. Now it is transformed and at last I can have a decent cup of freshly brewed coffee with a selection of vegetarian food. I can use my laptop as they now have Wifi, and we often share a decent bottle of wine for a tenner. No lager louts, no juke boxes or pool tables to attract the yobs, and no smoke!!
    I, for one, am glad that the puffing brigade have been banished from the pub, and look forward to a world wide implementation of smoking bans.
    For those that lament the passing of so-called traditional pubs, most of us prefer not to live in the past.

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  • 118. At 2:17pm on 06 Aug 2009, Stevie D wrote:

    Hotjam69, I couldn't agree more! The passing of "spit-and-sawdust" pubs, the dark and dangerous drinking dens of the past, is something to celebrate!

    Pubs that encouraged people to get drunk, especially those that were almost entirely male-dominated, are right to be consigned to history. They bred violence and misogyny, they were festeringly unhealthy and caused no end of health problems for the people who went there and the people they hit afterwards...

    Pubs that serve a variety of customers are great! The best pubs are those that have areas where men (and women!) can stand around drinking and socialising, that serve everything from real ale to rum&coke, cappuccino to cocktails, tea to tia maria, and areas where couples, groups and families can enjoy a meal out. And there are plenty of them still around - long may they continue!

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  • 119. At 2:33pm on 06 Aug 2009, kenromford wrote:

    #117. Vegetarian food, coffee and LAPTOPS!!? You sound like a rip-roaring drinking buddy. You don't want a pub at all; you want Starbucks.

    A good local, like mine, is a place for convivial chat by a loose network of people known as "the regulars". And yes, tigermilkboy, the regulars shuffle off, but in our one there are loads of new young regulars replacing them. A trendy city-centre bar that appeals to 18-25s has to renew its entire clientele every 7 years. That is why they are always having refurbs and being renamed. A good local can keep its customers for 20, 30 or more years if it continues to be well run.

    And, expat in Netherlands, isn't there a smoking ban there as well? (As indeed there is in France, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, parts of Germany, etc. etc.)

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  • 120. At 2:43pm on 06 Aug 2009, expatinnetherlands wrote:

    Re: 117 Hotjam69

    I have been working in IT and ICT for many years, so I would not consider myself techno-phobic, or living in the past.

    However, in what I refer to as a "traditional pub", a relaxing and down-to-earth atmosphere is based upon ordinary men and women socialising while free to enjoy a drink and a smoke.

    If people want to use their laptops in a location that bans smoking while "going out and relaxing", that's fine by me, just don't remove freedoms from those who wish to socialise in the traditional way down the pub!

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  • 121. At 3:08pm on 06 Aug 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    Joan 71 & 72 refer. You wrote:

    " Let me see. Scottish pubs with Scottish clowns. No can't say I've ever been to one. But I've certainly spoken to one."

    Firstly, you haved twisted a few different comments into an obscure pattern in your own mind, and the above quote is the outcome. Utter drivel.

    You have never been here, indeed never drunk in a "old school" pub, yet you somehow think you are qualified to comment on the subject. You lack any first hand knowledge I am afraid, whilst I am a veteran of the old fashioned, spit and sawdust, pub.

    As regards this, from your 108 post:

    P.S. I was born without wisdom teeth. That's evolutionary.
    P.S.S. Squirrels climb vertically up my wall where I live. Is that an adaptation to the walnuts I leave out for them to feed on? Will their descendents be vertical wall climbers too?


    You live on a wall alongside squirrels which have "adapted" to vertically climb walls instead of vertical trees ?

    cheers

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  • 122. At 3:48pm on 06 Aug 2009, expatinnetherlands wrote:

    Re:119 kenromford

    Indeed you are correct, four million (population approx 16 million) residents of the Netherlands have also had their relaxing freedoms curtailed since July last year.

    This removal of choice was not greeted with universal enthusiasm. There are increasing calls for extra choice (e.g. pubs/cafes where smoking is allowed).

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  • 123. At 4:46pm on 06 Aug 2009, kenromford wrote:

    Re 122 expatinNL (and previous comment at 115). You and I both like traditional locals. I don't like smoke or smoking; you do. I can stand at the bar and have a pint in the traditional manner; it's not 'sterile or pseudo-safe'; the only difference is my eyes don't sting and my hair and clothes don't end up reeking of smoke anymore.

    And of course my smoking friends have to toddle off every now and then into the (nicely done-up) yard/garden to have a fag now. But they come back inside in a bit and all is well, and we put the world to rights the way we always did.

    I do however agree with whoever said upthread that not one of the whingeing non-smokers who used "they're too smoky" as an excuse for not going to pubs has become a regular; they are just (generally middle-class) people who simply don't like proper pubs and would prefer to be drinking their soy lattes or overpriced bottled lager and tapping away at their laptop in some chain-owned lifestyle-bar or coffee shop. I've got a brand new laptop with 3G dongle - I'm not technophobic at all - but I don't take it down the pub with me!

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  • 124. At 5:01pm on 06 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Thank you Newspaceman1,
    You're so smart. Now that you've jogged my memory, I have actually been to a Scottish pub near a town called Doune I think it was. I've also been to a British pub too. I disagree that people can't comment on subjects they don't have first hand knowledge of because BBC viewers like yourself do it all the time. Have you joined the blogger police?
    Some people enjoy verbal sparring. I like Mark Easton's blog because he has a wide range of interests like me. Like most women, we like to talk and be heard. Women enjoy sharing, not sparring. What is it that you need to tell me other than what I say is pure drivel and that my thoughts are invalid?

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  • 125. At 5:06pm on 06 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    118. At 2:17pm on 06 Aug 2009, stevieinselby wrote:
    "...The passing of "spit-and-sawdust" pubs, the dark and dangerous drinking dens of the past, is something to celebrate!.."
    Where were you drinking? An old sailor haunt down by the docks? As an ex-publican, from 1989 thru 1994, and as someone who has grown up in the trade (my parents were licensees too) from 1972 until 1995, I cannot remember the last dark, dangerous, spit and sawdust drinking den that I was ever in.

    "...Pubs that encouraged people to get drunk..."
    What, in the same way that libraries encourage people to read?

    "...they were festeringly unhealthy and caused no end of health problems for the people who went there and the people they hit afterwards..."
    You really were drinking (or not) in the most lavish of surroundings weren't you? Where the heck do you live? Head for Hades and drop a left at Tartarus?

    "...Pubs that serve a variety of customers are great!.."
    So now they're great - make your mind up

    "...The best pubs are those that have areas where men (and women!) can stand around drinking and socialising, that serve everything from real ale to rum&coke, cappuccino to cocktails, tea to tia maria, and areas where couples, groups and families can enjoy a meal out. And there are plenty of them still around - long may they continue!.."
    So what is different from what you describe here above to what all the proponents of the Great British Pub have been asking for. It would appear that your experience of 'pubs' is far removed from reality, or you have been very very very unlucky with the offerings in your area.

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  • 126. At 5:14pm on 06 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    117. At 11:01am on 06 Aug 2009, Hotjam69 wrote:
    "My local pub was a dingy dive full of old men and smoke..."
    OK, I agree that it is nicer without the smoke, but why include old men in that statement. I hope you find life keeps you young, and you never need to venture out for a beer once you get old (however old that may be to you)

    "...Now it is transformed and at last I can have a decent cup of freshly brewed coffee with a selection of vegetarian food..."
    My local cafe does that - that is NOT a pub

    "...No lager louts, no juke boxes or pool tables to attract the yobs, and no smoke!!."
    What about a dart board - is that allowed in your world? Conversation - that's like Facebook, but in real time, and with voices!

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  • 127. At 5:36pm on 06 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    124. At 5:01pm on 06 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:
    "...Women enjoy sharing, not sparring. What is it that you need to tell me other than what I say is pure drivel and that my thoughts are invalid?.."

    In other words you enjoy joining the debate. That's what it's about Joan, the debate. Unfortunately, some posters here don't see it that way, and just post what falls from the back-most brain cell into their mouths, and spout it out into a blog.

    If we didn't differ in our opinions, it would be a very quiet world eh? Ah, bliss, silence.

    BRING ON THE DEBATE

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  • 128. At 7:03pm on 06 Aug 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    SHLA2UK, If one is to debate, then surely one should have first hand experiece of what one is talking about. A quick visit to Doune, stored in the recess of the "back most brain cell", is hardly knowledge.

    My stand here is that an "evolved pub", in the tradional sense of pub, is no longer such, indeed is a different entity completely. Ask any old man.

    Just for the record, it was not me who initially negan the snide comments, although I am happy to spar when required.

    ps Joan, no need to get humpty, but your squirrels have not evolved, they have adapted in respect of humans.

    cheers

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  • 129. At 02:43am on 07 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    115 expatinnetherlands wrote:

    Some may call it "progress", I call it a sad loss to the British heritage and the local communities that they served.

    The freedom to enjoy a pint and a smoke in the friendly public bar at the Seven Stars, Royal Oak or the Beehive has been taken away from me.

    What type of sterile, pseudo-safe lifestyle have we let them impose on us?

    ---

    A loss perhaps, but whether it has been 'imposed' on us is still open to debate

    Many factors have changed over the past few decades, we are more mobile, technology has changed our needs, drinking culture has changed etc

    All industries die out as they are no longer suitable to modern life - there was a time before the traditional (to us, anyway) pub, and there'll be a time after it

    I find it hard to believe any change is solely down to government actions - social change rarely is

    And besides, there's still plenty of pubs out there, just because they're declining doesn't mean they'll all go bust - they may reach a sustainable point in the market

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  • 130. At 08:10am on 07 Aug 2009, EArthurBlair wrote:

    Wow! I knew the BBC had become a propaganda arm of the Labour party, but I hadn't guessed it was as bad as this.

    Just because figures have been massaged to allow you to sleep at night doesn't mean that we've all become stupid and blind overnight.

    I can see with my own eyes that supermarkets are being given preference when applying for planning permission, I can see pubs closing all around me, I see more cafe's etc... selling alcohol.

    Pubs ARE dying, and this is exactly what this government want. If they don't, then they are seriously going about things the wrong way.

    Just have a look at what happened to the share price of Greene King and Wetherspoons after the smoking ban was introduced. Watch what continues to happen to the share price after every budget in which they raise the revenue taken from a pint of beer.

    If this isn't a direct attack on the British pub, then I don't know what is.

    I am not a publican, I am a citizen that cannot abide by the deliberate destroying of one of the few industries we have left - and by our own government too.

    The BBC attempting to back this up with dubious reporting is disgusting.

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  • 131. At 09:37am on 07 Aug 2009, Mattimandu wrote:

    Smoking areas should be re-introduced in pubs that want it back in order to stay open - simple as that. The people that fought so hard to introduce this anti-smoking legislation were somewhat obsessed by it and determined to get their way no matter what. Many of the MPs who voted on a ban for England and Wales were from Scotland. All the surveys, which were produced to show overwhelming support for a total ban on tobacco in public places, were highly misleading to say the least. Give it ten years and if these same people get what they really want they will succeed in banning beer, and other such drinks they so disapprove of, in all public places. The Great British is pub is dying.

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  • 132. At 09:56am on 07 Aug 2009, drfox2009 wrote:

    i agree with Matt.The same people who wanted a ban on smoking will be the same people that demonise alchol and have that banned and the same people who cheered and supported this bill so they could drink in clean non-smelly premises will regret that decision. Dont get me wrong, i have nothing against their opinions and feel that everyone should have a choice to drink in a smoke free enviroment or not but at least give people a CHOICE. Do not just enforce a rule upon everyone. Let people vote or choose. Thats what a democracy is for.

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  • 133. At 1:09pm on 07 Aug 2009, negativebert wrote:

    I take it you don't frequent pubs. Which is like the majority of people now we can't smoke there.
    That is the coffin nail in every single pub in the UK (apart from the posh ones in London).

    I wonder how many of the people who decided to introduce the smoking ban were smokers??

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  • 134. At 3:02pm on 07 Aug 2009, EddieBenton wrote:

    The warped logic smokers spew in order to justify their filthy habit is just incredible. Reviving the "old English pub" is hardly worth subjecting others around you to the toxic and carcinogenic effects of second hand smoke, the smoking ban was the right call and is here to stay. Nobody should have the right to inflict injury on another.

    As for pubs evolving, different types of pub will come and go as people want. Market forces will determine what is popular according to where people want to spend their hard earned, that's life. If the public don't want a musty old "traditional pub" with smeared glasses and smoke everywhere, the nostalgia of a few will not revive them.

    Regarding pub grub, In Belfast there are quite a few nice pubs to get restaurant quality food, not everywhere serves stodge.

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  • 135. At 3:08pm on 07 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Thank You ShLA2UK,
    Does the spit and sawdust bar Newspaceman1 speaks of actually even exist today? Is this just drivel?

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  • 136. At 3:39pm on 07 Aug 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    EddieBenton

    So not only do you want to decide how and where you spend your free time, you also want to decide how and where everyone else spends their free time too.

    Have you never heard of choice ?

    What exactly is wrong with having a smoking room or even a smoking pub for those that smoke ?
    You can have your smoke free pubs if you don't want to be around smokers and smokers would have their pub.

    Everyone is then catered for and you anti-smoking fascists can all stop complaining about smokers standing in doorways or taking up the outdoor seating when the weather is nice.

    Why do you have to impose your choice on to everyone else ?


    You also seem to have some warped logic of your own, smokers have not stopped going to pubs because they don't want to go the pub, they've stopped going because they don't want to be treated like second class citizens when they go to the pub.

    This is not market forces, it is the thin end of the fascists wedge !

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  • 137. At 4:15pm on 07 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    128. At 7:03pm on 06 Aug 2009, newspaceman1 wrote:
    "...SHLA2UK, If one is to debate, then surely one should have first hand experiece of what one is talking about...A quick visit to Doune, stored in the recess of the "back most brain cell", is hardly knowledge..."

    I don't see the connection. I was simply referring to the fact that Joan was engaging in the debate to be shot down for her opinion. I wasn't aiming anything at you, and I think you may have misread what I was saying. I followed up by saying "If we didn't differ in our opinions, it would be a very quiet world eh?"

    Otherwise, I agree with you. An 'evolved' pub, particularly one that has 'evolved' from a pub to a restaurant, is no longer a pub, so the evolution argument is invalid.

    Pubs are all things to all people - in other words, we all expect them to be something different from the next (wo)man. Admittedly, we are moving away, I hope, from the dank dark 'spit n sawdust' bars, but in all honesty, I've not seen one in many years. I'm sure they do exist in places, but they're not so common. Most pubs now are clean, modern (even if the building is decrepit) and serve a good variety of ales, lagers, bottles and wine / spirits but they're still not attracting people.

    Why?

    I'm no longer a practising licensee, but I still mix with people in the trade, and the most common opinion I come across is that the downturn in trade has been adversely affected by the smoking laws. That is an opinion held by many (not all) licensees, whether they are in favour of the ban or not. There are other factors too, such as recession, local economics, competition and so on.

    As for the squirrels - I wasn't really sure what that was about. I mean, they climb, whether it be a tree or a wall - it's still climbing. Animals adapt, it seems humans cannot (and I point that last remark most squarely at myself - ha)

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  • 138. At 4:38pm on 07 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    134. At 3:02pm on 07 Aug 2009, EddieBenton wrote:

    "...The warped logic smokers spew in order to justify their filthy habit is just incredible..."
    Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.
    Smokers are not warped - what gave you that idea. I might be an addict to the nicotine but I am not warped. Please!!!! Neither do I spew - unless I've had a few too many drinks, but that is unlikely as there are so few places to go now. And there are varying degrees of dirt before you arrive at filthy. OK, I'll give you that - but then what is being asked for, and if you read all 138 posts on this blog you will surely find this out, is that us 'filthy' 'warped' 'spewing' smokers be allowed to warp our filthy spew together, in a civilised, albeit filthy warped manner.

    You don't have to join us. You might not be invited. Your opinion, however, counts, so rather than just 'spew' your single-minded, everyone-tow-the-line attitude on normal upstanding members of society just because their views so daringly differ from yours, why not join in with constructive debate and we might all learn something.

    "...Market forces will determine what is popular according to where people want to spend their hard earned, that's life..."
    Unfortunately, many family run or independently owned businesses are not able to wait. With somewhere in the region of 60 pubs, every week, closing in the UK, the industry is losing, the public is losing, the business is dying. You are correct, in that market forces determine survival, but the market today is cosmetic - man-made (not to say pubs are naturally occurring) - those forces are being driven and so the evolution argument is marred.

    "...If the public don't want a musty old "traditional pub" with smeared glasses and smoke everywhere..."
    Man, get over it - even clinically clean pubs are closing. Traditional is not necessarily musty and old, but some of the best pubs are those with history. There's a place close to me, a 17th Century coaching inn, full of history which makes it an interesting place to meet your mates. Just because the building is a few 100 years old, doesn't mean it has to die. There is room for modern and traditional, so long as they're clean. The fact is, with 60 a week closing, how many will be left once things do settle down?

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  • 139. At 7:22pm on 07 Aug 2009, John Coyle wrote:

    If 'evolving' is your euphemism for dying out, then pubs are definitely evolving; just as most regional and some national newspapers are quickly 'evolving' into extinction.
    Drinking at home is the equivalent to getting your news on line.
    The social consequences are not to be welcomed.
    John C.

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  • 140. At 8:54pm on 07 Aug 2009, Spiny Norman wrote:

    Remember all the non-smokers who said they'd come back to the pubs if smoking was banned?

    Have you met any who did? Thought not...

    Oh, and I'm a non-smoker who got very tetchy when people smoked in a restaurant. What was needed was a common sense attitude to smoking in pubs, but that seems to in short supply these days.

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  • 141. At 01:49am on 08 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    I've just read all 140 posts and I must say this is great entertainment.... just like being down the pub...whose round is it? ;)

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  • 142. At 01:49am on 08 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    mine's a vodka & lime thanks

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  • 143. At 03:17am on 08 Aug 2009, magicSeanie wrote:

    Mark,

    Why don't you try and apply your questionable statistical analysis to the rapid demise of bingo halls in the UK since the introduction of the smoking ban? Not the same as traditional pubs maybe, but very definitely equally important as community social centres - that also serve drinks.

    UK bingo halls, once vibrant places for all manner of people enjoying one another's company have evolved into....nothing. They have closed.

    Tempting to put it down to recession woes, but the majority of bingo-goers were never full-time workers anyway.

    The non-smoking campaigners have gotten exactly whey wanted: a sterile, souless vacuum in which they can all live forever, together.

    Me? I am off down to my local Irish pub to have a pint and a fag with my tolerant, open-minded friends. People here live longer than anyone else in the world but smoke like chimneys and drink like fish. Bars here are smokey, noisy and fun - the way they used to be at home.

    Sean. (Osaka, Japan)

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  • 144. At 08:04am on 08 Aug 2009, EArthurBlair wrote:

    EddieBenton wrote:

    Nobody should have the right to inflict injury on another.

    --

    Indeed, however no-body should have the ability to impose draconion measures on others based on, what is now discredited, government funded reports.

    The effects of second-hand smoke as you call it, are extremely low. In fact, in one of the two WHO reports it shows that children of smoking parents have 27% chance LESS of contracting a 'smoking related disease'.

    Don't believe all you are told, Eddie - research a little and you may just find that you are being lied to.

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  • 145. At 08:53am on 09 Aug 2009, Soul News wrote:

    If this is true then it is a REALLY GOOD THING.

    Having lived in several other countries it is amazing the difference between british "vertical, pack'em in and carry 'em out" pubs and the rest of the world's attitude to drinking.

    Everywhere else "going out for a drink" means sitting down, eating, talking and some drinking. It seems to be only the UK where it means standing at a bar and downing drinks.

    My only worry is that recently it's seemed to me that there have been MORE of these kind of standing Bars. Hopefully it's true that the shift has been from Pubs to restaurants/cafes/gastro pubs, and not from Pubs to Bars.

    The UK is finally civilising?

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  • 146. At 09:06am on 09 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear SHLA2UK
    Mark's blog is about pubs evolving. Then you state that pubs and wannabe pubs are in a different evolutionary line and can't be compared.
    The blog is about the evolution and extinction of pubs whether they be restaurant pubs, spit and sawdust pubs or any other kind of pub. Evolution is the result of many factors but TigerMilkBoy's explanation seeme to make the most sense to me because its based on simple economics. I don't think you and Newspaceman1 should change the meaning of evolving to suit your argument.

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  • 147. At 3:37pm on 09 Aug 2009, Panama Boab wrote:

    My local pub has just "evolved" into a mini-mart. It still sells alcohol, the only difference being that you are no longer able to drink it on the premises. You just have to take it home with the rest of your groceries.

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  • 148. At 6:03pm on 09 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Robert,
    Right! Just like TigerMilkBoy states. It's due purely to economics. Mini marts probably make more money in your area and taking home your own alcohol is cheaper than having to hire a bartender, barwaitress, bathroom janitor, manager and bouncer. Evolution at work.

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  • 149. At 11:21am on 10 Aug 2009, EddieBenton wrote:

    "Don't believe all you are told, Eddie - research a little and you may just find that you are being lied to." EArthurBlair

    I must reread 1984, haven't read it in a while.

    Jokes aside however, you can't seriously expect the worldwide scientific consensus on the effects of smoking to be some kind of conspiracy or fabrication? Where would the benefit lie in this? You have cited an isolated study which may have methodological issues, the overall consensus is still that smoking harms. Even if we are not 100% certain that it does (certainty is a rare thing) if there is even a chance it will impart health problems, to force it upon others is unacceptable.

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  • 150. At 3:18pm on 10 Aug 2009, Isenhorn wrote:

    #144,
    EArthurBlair,

    'The effects of second-hand smoke as you call it, are extremely low. In fact, in one of the two WHO reports it shows that children of smoking parents have 27% chance LESS of contracting a 'smoking related disease'

    That is a really surprising assertion! I would like to read the report which shows that- can you give a link to it?
    Even if the effects of passive smoking are small, their eradication is still beneficial. Combined with the other positive results of the public smoking ban- e.g. smokers no longer stink-up the place with their smoke, some of the smokers might decide to quit when having to go outside all the time- the net result is a definite benefit.

    #133
    negativebert,

    'I wonder how many of the people who decided to introduce the smoking ban were smokers??'

    I think I see your point. But why stop there? Why do not apply the same logic to other issues? For example: 'I wonder how many of the people who decided to introduce the law against rape were rapists themselves?'

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  • 151. At 3:39pm on 10 Aug 2009, Naughty Tricks wrote:

    "I don't think you and Newspaceman1 should change the meaning of evolving to suit your argument."

    Well lets just hijack the meaning of the word "pub" instead then. I mean that's ok if it's going to suit your argument isn't it.
    _________________________________________

    My got what a load of outrageous twaddle this article is.

    "Ah!" says the Newspeak magician, "this is not 52 pub closures a week you're talking about. You're mistaken. You're thinking of those 'wet-led vertical pubs'. Not to worry, these mistakes could happen to anyone"

    Yes you're right.

    Silly me, idiotically using the notion of the word "pub" that has been around for centuries. I don't know what has come over me.

    How could I not have known (As the magnificent Easton remarks) that "branded pubs and café style bars are actually opening at a rate of two a week"? Golly, golly gosh! This is almost insurmountable evidence that the pub is evolving. How idiotic to even attempt to refute it.

    I mean clearly when we subtract the two pubs and cafe's opening a week from the fifty-two that are supposedly closing we somehow must be reaching a positive number.

    I was never very good at mathematics so I'll leave that calculation for others.

    Nonetheless, this is not the only nail in the naysayers coffin! Even if we controvertially conclude that subtracting fifty-two from two leaves us with a negative number we must still contend with all these "Tapas bars, pancake houses [and] burger joints." I mean when you take into account all the pancake pubs and indian restaurant-pubs, the takeaway inns and the Kebab bars we might even get somewhere near a positive figure.

    It is clear, the great British Tapas bar has survived. Those who disagree should just look at the facts. The only thing we have to accept is that a pub is not what we think it is but rather whatever those in power wish to define it as. As long as that's the case, well then, everything is just hunky dory.

    Is that so difficult?

    ABSOLUTELY, 100% and YES INDEED.

    GET YOUR TWISTING HANDS OFF OUR LANGUAGE!!!

    You don't get to change words used by the common people for centuries into some esoteric pseudo-language designed for whatever justifies the figures.

    Who do you think you are?

    My local has 'evolved' into a derelict boarded up hovel. The one in the next village has 'evolved' into a Bistro that opened up in Skipton 35 miles away. You can't quite see the candlelit tables through the broken windows but the knowledge that her pub has grown into someone elses restaurant warms the ex-landlady's heart.

    NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

    A clever man once said that "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."

    It seems to me rather alarming to find that 60 years after this was written Winston finally asks;

    "How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."

    Well

    "Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."


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  • 152. At 6:08pm on 10 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Spandex_Mahatma or are you really Newspaceman1 undercover?
    If not, he has a clone.

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  • 153. At 6:55pm on 10 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Spandex Mahatma or Newspaceman1, whoever you are,
    Did you know that women make fun of men who ride around the city wearing tight spandex bicycle shorts?
    What definition of pub are you referring too? Pubs/Alehouses of the 16th century probably didn't allow women. Now they do. So I 'm not sure what your definition of pub is?
    Furthermore, I also didn't know the British had cornered the market on the English language. When did that occur? Like the word pub, english has evolved too. Especially when the patriots threw your tea into Boston Harbour, which George Banks (Mary Poppins) stated, "Was unsuitable, even for the Americans!"

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  • 154. At 7:23pm on 10 Aug 2009, U14098439 wrote:

    British pubs are dying. In live in Japan and had been out of the country for a few years. Came back last year to find loads of pubs gone. Large ones on big roads had been turned into Mcdonalds and others into gastro pubs with only 2 or 3 patrons at a time.
    Couldn't believe it. Only when i wnet to central London were some pubs still full of life with real people, real characters who can looking for a chat and a laugh not a twenty quid dinner.
    I went back after all those years to a lovely pub i went to for years in Barnsbury near Kings Cross. Closed, because so many regulars left after the smoking ban. I don't smoke myself, but if there is an area with adequate ventilation why shouldn't smoking be permitted.

    I don't want to adapt to some tofee nosed 3 Pound a pint a quid a packet of crisps pub thank you very much. Society is dying and part of that is the demise of real pubs.

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  • 155. At 10:12am on 11 Aug 2009, EddieBenton wrote:

    SHLA2UK - I guess my phrasing was a little emotive. My basic point was not one of general insult however, but just that smokers can be somewhat irrational in defense of their addiction. (As can anyone addicted to something). The prevailing consensus amongst smokers on this board seems to be that smoking in pubs should be brought back. I find the notion of taking such action, in order to save a few pubs (while the cost is infliction of illness on others) as being somewhat far fetched.

    You're right, there is room for the traditional, however I don't believe there is room for everyone. The "pub" is neither dying out or evolving, there are just too many to support. I'm sure if people want traditional pubs some will remain open while money gets spent there. Hopefully we'll have a nice even (albeit smaller) cross-section to choose from.

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  • 156. At 10:51am on 11 Aug 2009, Alan-Fresco wrote:

    Sung to the tune of Early one Morning. A song from a folk singer (Wedlock)which I heard enough times to remember it about 30 years ago. It still resonates

    Early one evening just as the pubs were opening
    A traveler came walking down the cold and lonely street
    He saw the door ajar, entered the public bar
    Said landlord I should like a beer and something nice to eat

    I fancy some crusty bread and roast beef of Old England
    Butter from the churn and tangy home made pickle too
    And Barman if you could, draw some bitter from the wood
    Ill be most content to quaff a foaming pint or two.

    I’ll sit down by your open fire and contemplate infinity
    The quiet of your hostel would creep into my heart
    And should a regular, chance to come into the bar
    Maybe I’ll engage him in a contest of the darts

    Come in said the Landlord I’ve got pre-packed fish paste sandwiches
    And Soya sausage substitute I purchase by the ton
    And if you fancy it, I could defrost a bit
    And plaster it with ketchup on this supermarket bun

    I’ll sling you a plastic pot of Super Sparkle Ready Brew
    As advertised on telly by a famous Rugby scrum
    No filthy barrels here, we serve hygienic beer
    Safely paralyzed in side this Aluminum drum

    So sit down by the fire squire I’ll switch the logs on right away
    Or maybe you’ll prefer to play my latest fruit machine
    Three cherries in a row, that should set your heart aglow
    Or how about my jukebox that will really set the scene

    The traveler sat down beside the polystyrene inglenook
    The plastic beams vibrated to the electronic sound
    Took a bite began to chew, downed his pint of Ready Brew
    Gave a ghastly gurgle and fell dead upon the ground

    Oh dear said the Landlord as he switched his colour telly on
    Another fatal accident the third this week I fear
    If they can’t hold their own, why don’t they stay at home
    My God we don’t half get some funny customers in here.

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  • 157. At 11:35am on 11 Aug 2009, StrangelyPerfect wrote:

    Look.
    Most of the whingeing seems to emanate from people reminiscing about some lost golden age of stinky one-sex haunts. They stayed in business because of lack of competition - Quite frankly, apart from cinema, there was nothing else to do. Also, hardly anywhere else sold alcohol.

    Now there are heaps of things to do and alcohol is available in garages even!

    If these places were anywhere near decent, people would still go in numbers and spend their cash. Don't whinge if they are so awful and there are so many other distractions that people won't go. The blame lies closer to home, and not with any political meddling....

    In fact, perhaps, as former customers of these closed-down establishments, it was the very presence of these whingers that put people off from going! If that's the case, then the whingers have only themselves to blame.

    As for 'traditional' village pub closures - if the people of the village don't support their pub then again, they've no-one to blame but themselves.

    Like the canals, steam engines, dried eggs and knife-grinders, the alcohol consuming business must make it in the harsh world of competition. The stats prove that just because YOU can't see the alcohol being consumed, doesn't mean it isn't! It's just moved to where it'll get the best return on investment.

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  • 158. At 12:09pm on 11 Aug 2009, nhu_bao wrote:

    145. At 08:53am on 09 Aug 2009, soulgrind wrote:

    Having lived in several other countries it is amazing the difference between british "vertical, pack'em in and carry 'em out" pubs and the rest of the world's attitude to drinking.

    Everywhere else "going out for a drink" means sitting down, eating, talking and some drinking. It seems to be only the UK where it means standing at a bar and downing drinks.

    How true...I stopped going to pubs, not because of smoking, even though I'm a non smoker byt because landlords seemed to think I needed loud music. The art of conversation died with the increase. Stay at home became fashionable. However, I look around and even in my small patch where I live in the UK, I see loads of pubs shutting down, most since the smoking ban.

    Yes, they might need to evolve to survive but smoking outside on a cold winters day, just isn't going to cut it or work. It might well work where I'm currently now - in Viet Nam, where it's 30c and doesn't drop below 25c. However, the art of a good service has declined in the UK too.

    Here I go into any coffee shop, bar etc, As soon as I am seated, I am given a refreshing glass of green tea plus access to the internet. Its not asked for and I'm not charged for either....it is done to make you feel welcomed by your host. I drink/eat whatever I orderd, I don't have anyone chasing me for a repeat order. Eventually I pay the bill. The cost.... 25000 dong - less than £1. Even one ltr of beer will set you back about £2. And it is served to you at a table, not you having to hang around at a bar fighting to get noticed - although those days are numbered in the UK I fear. Its a very civilised way of living, entertaining and the conversation flows as well as the companionship. Smoking doesn't really bother people either. No wonder, everyone eats out on a regular basis. Cheap, well cooked food and well run establishments.

    Trying it in England, alas, I fear we have lost something with all our petty regulations of what we can and cannot do. And the government must be laughing as we the public no longer get together to discuss what the ill of our society truely are and how they can be corrected. Instead we all stay at home, glued to our boxes.

    Yes, the pub is evolving...into a dodo!

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  • 159. At 2:47pm on 11 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    There seems to be some confusion among some about what it is to be a 'pub'. The pub, itself, is an evolution from the Anglo Saxon Inns and Taverns that were born from the Alehouses. They are, specifically, community centres where ales and later, beers, could be purchased.

    Wine and Spirits were introduced much later and those that offered accommodation (traditionally, the monasteries did this, but did not serve alcohol) were called Inns. A tavern, on the other hand, is the same as an Inn, but without accommodation. All of these, fall to the 'public house' category.

    Full service restaurants, however, are NOT pubs. They are restaurants, or a restaurant-pub at best. Most of these places are set up to accommodate eating guests only - they don't cater for drinkers unless you want to sit at a table for 4, laid with cutlery and condiments with your pint. Drinking at the bar is discouraged - if you arrive alone, you must sit at a table, alone, and likely, leave, alone.

    I can even get a beer at my local cafe, but it is NOT a pub, it is a licensed cafe.

    The pub is NOT evolving, it is either closing completely, or being changed into something that is NOT a pub.

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  • 160. At 3:55pm on 11 Aug 2009, Steve - Iver wrote:

    146. At 09:06am on 09 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:
    "...Then you state that pubs and wannabe pubs are in a different evolutionary line and can't be compared..."

    Hi Joan. Just back after a long weekend - my local closed on Sunday night so we had a send-off for it - lots of emotion, lots of tears. Many of the barstaff that had ever worked there came back and it was an emotional affair, but everyone enjoyed the evening, albeit with a sense of sorrow. A lot of mobile / cell numbers were swapped, so the cellphone has effectively replaced the community of the pub.

    Anyway, about what I said. Did I say that? I can't find that post.
    But, I would say that there ARE different evolutionary lines, yes. A cafe that has a license has not evolved into a pub, but a licensed cafe. Likewise, a restaurant that serves alcohol is a licensed restaurant. Pubs that serve food are still pubs, but some have tried too hard to be restaurants, and so the restaurant-pub was born. From here, the lines blur and it becomes increasingly difficult to draw comparisons.

    I've no objections to a pub selling food, just as I have no objections to a cafe selling alcohol, but I'm sure we don't all want to have licensed cafes replacing pubs. It's not just about the alcohol (or the smoking for that matter).

    It is about community. Few people likely care if the city-centre 'Moon under Water' or 'Tap & Spile' closes because just like the great British bus, there'll be another one along in a minute or two. Local pubs, though, are a different matter altogether.

    Someone above posted that if the local villagers don't support the local pub then it's no-one other than their fault if the pub closes. True. The question is 'why?'.

    Why are so many pubs closing? Is it doubtless a commercial matter - economics, but why? Why was it a supported way of life for centuries only to so dramatically die out in only a few years? What changed? These questions have been the basis for my comments.

    Attitudes have changed for one thing. Pubs DID evolve during the 70s, and the 80s moreso. The 'smoke-screen' windows were replaced with clear windows. The reason that frosted glass was used in pubs was to offer an air of privacy from the street. It protected kids, particularly, from the drinking going on inside. Now, many pubs have opened their doors to family and kids (but to do so, they MUST serve food) and so it's possible that the attitude for open windows and family bars has contributed to the demise of the great British pub (the great British bus isn't doing so well, either).

    Interestingly, by making alcohol more available, by making the experience a more family oriented event, in a restaurant-pub for instance, has contributed, if not led, to the demise of the pub.

    Apply the same logic to drugs - see other blogs for details, and you can see how many of us are arguing for the legalisation and regulation of drugs to control the environment more sensibly. Apply that to pubs, and you have a damn good positive result as a comparison to how the drug trade would 'evolve' if treated the same way.

    "...Evolution is the result of many factors but TigerMilkBoy's explanation seeme to make the most sense to me because its based on simple economics..."
    I agree with TigerMilkBoys assessment, but in the way he has stated, it is not a simple matter of 'purely' economics. There are many factors that have contributed to the demise of the pub. If demise is evolution, then so be it, but it is not evolution of the pub if the pub is dying. That would be an evolution of society. Once they are all gone, will we say that they have evolved or disappeared?

    I use evolution in the broad sense, not the biological sense.

    If pubs are empty, and the owners cannot afford to keep them running, then they will die, but we still don't know why. Is it economics, it is attitude, smoking, prices or is it something else, or a combination of these things?

    Earlier, you mentioned something about the changing ways that society interacts - I can't remember the exact words - but you asked me if what I was experiencing was the way society interacts with each other rather than the demise of the pub, per se. I've been thinking about that, and have begun thinking you may have a point there.

    Facebook and Twitter, for example, are the electronic communities nowadays, just as mobile phones and email have replaced public call-boxes and letters. Do we really want Facebook and its ilk replacing our community pubs.

    We've complained that kids hanging around on street corners 'need somewhere to go' and we have community centres and organisations to provide that to them. Now we're closing pubs at such a rate, we'll have gangs of men and women (in my world, women use pubs too) walking the street, bored, with no-where to go. Or we'll all be addicted to Facebook!

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  • 161. At 6:11pm on 11 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear SHLA2UK
    Dying is a part of evolution. If you can't adapt you die and either a heartier version replaces the existing one or it dies out altogether.
    The reason I mentioned alehouses of the 16th century was say that pub/alehouses have evolved. Once it may have been the sole domain of men and now it is a place for both men and women. I agree that there are many factors that may have sped up the near extinction of pubs but its a natural process due to changing circumstance. I'm sorry you had to see your pub go but you raise another good point about facebook and communication in general. If texting and facebook is the way young people communicate now. it would affect the social population of pub patrons.

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  • 162. At 6:12pm on 11 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Thank You Alan-Fresco,
    Very Funny Indeed! as the Brits would say.

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  • 163. At 00:49am on 13 Aug 2009, amysocial wrote:

    Pubs are still an integral part of social life. The only threat I have in recent years to their business is coffee shops. With coffee lounges becoming more and more popular, they must be taking some business away from pubs. Also, the bad economy might also be contributing to lower sales which may lead to a few pubs closing down. However, pubs have been in existence for too long and they are not going away anytime soon.

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