Inspired by an interesting post at Tandleman Towers (which was itself kicked off by this one over at Garrard’s gaff) I just rang my Mum and Dad and asked them: “Why don’t working class people go to the pub so much these days?”
Now, I should explain that, although I am now terribly middle class (I nearly bought a cheese dome in Peter Jones the other day) my folks are and always have been working class.
I live in London; they live in a small industrial town in Somerset. So, we have very different experiences of and feelings about going to the pub these days.
Here’s my perspective: I don’t bat an eyelid at paying £3.40 for a pint. I’m very blase about pub closures (“The ones that are shutting are probably horrible anyway, so who cares?”). I’m spoiled for choice, with loads of great pubs within an hour of my house on London’s excellent public transport system.
And here are the reasons my folks gave for their gradual abandonment of pubs in the last few years:
1. It costs too much — a pint should cost less than £2, surely?
2. The traditional pubs in town are cold, unfriendly and have a poor range of beer. Sometimes, says Dad, “it’s like walking into a hostile Wild West saloon”.
3. The newer pubs are almost like nightclubs, with DJs, dancefloors and offers on alcopops. To note: young working class people are going to those in some numbers, because they can get drugs and pull there, unlike at the distinctly unerotic Rose and Crown or Bunch of Grapes.
3. The nice pubs in the area are out of town, in the surrounding villages. Drink driving’s now taboo and there’s no public transport to speak of. Cabs are too expensive.
4. Working class homes are nicer now than they were in the 60s and 70s; it’s easier to get quality beer and spirits these days; and it’s relatively cheaper than it used to be. So, staying at home isn’t necessarily a compromise — it’s quite nice!
5. As it happens, they are going to the pub for the first time in a while tonight, and the draw is free live music from a local blues band. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother.
Interestingly, they didn’t think the smoking ban was an issue, although my Dad smokes and my Mum used to, and actually thought it had improved some of the local pubs.
Food for thought. I need to digest it.