Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

An ode to the Great British pub

Think back to what an average Friday night looked like for lots of students four months ago. You’ve just put your favourite outfit on after getting ready with your mates and are at the bar buying your favourite drink – a pint of Amstel, San Miguel, an IPA or maybe a pink gin and lemonade if you’re looking to push the boat out. The lights are dim, and the usual hustle and bustle of your local pub set a good atmosphere. ‘I Want it That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys is playing (again), but you don’t really pay attention to it since you’re deep in conversation. There’s a sticky bar, the tables are wet, but it all comes to form a cultural institution, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Right now, it seems a world away. 

Since March 20th, none of us have been able to take a trip down to the local and nothing has been quite the same ever since. The pub was first brought to Britain by the Romans in the form of taverns. These were pop-up’s that were intended to serve passing travellers. In the 17th century, we had the Public House. Later, in the Georgian era, the term ‘pub’ became commonplace.

‘Pub culture’ has become ingrained into our lives

In the modern-day, the pub means a lot more to people than just booze as, for many, a pub is a place of happy memories and new acquaintances. Whether you drink alcohol or not, it’s a place to gather and have a laugh or a well-needed catch-up. Sometimes, it proves to be a comforting setting for a deserved break at the end of a long week. If you’ve had a bad day or haven’t seen someone in a while, the pub is the perfect medium between a house, which can be too personal, and a restaurant, which sometimes feels a little too formal.

In other words, we all have our own personal relationship with the pub. Whether it be the beginnings of a new romance or a light-hearted tradition among friends, ‘pub culture’ has become ingrained into our lives. 

There was one description of the pub which stood out to me as particularly amusing. In an article for The Telegraph, one writer described the pub as “a Tardis full of booze”. The décor of the contemporary pub transcends reality, taking you from the modern-day and any worries that you might have to a time before they began. The old-fashioned embellishments, like the low-hanging beams and old paintings within such historical buildings, transport you to another realm. I’m sure this resonates with many people, especially in the current climate.

It is hard to contemplate British life without our incredible local pubs

However, ‘pub culture’ has much broader implications than just our personal lives and experiences. In 2010, accessories designer Anya Hindmarch opened ‘The Bag and Bottle’ for a week to launch her new collection of handbags. The Mulberry Autumn/Winter 2019 collection also used trips down to the local as a muse.

J.K. Rowling looked to the British pub as a stimulus for many of her settings in the Harry Potter series. Though, when a Devon pub which supposedly influenced the creation of the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ sold for £4 million, Rowling revealed that she had never visited that particular pub.

In reflecting on my own wonderful experiences of pub life, it is hard to contemplate British life without our incredible local pubs. Under the government’s lockdown measures, over 60,000 pubs have been unable to function. Staff have been furloughed and lots of stock has been wasted. Great British pubs are struggling. 

My favourite local pub has been selling necessities

In some areas, they continue to be the centre of daily life. Some pubs have transformed into local convenience stores and have been providing the public with essential items. For example, my favourite local pub has been selling necessities such as cream tea as well as fish and chips. It would be a travesty to go without these staples of British culture. Others have been selling flour, hand sanitiser, and milk amongst many other things.

While a plan to revive the Great British pub is yet to be revealed through an exit strategy, I shall make a personal vow to help support a valued institution when they reopen, by buying a round (or four) for me and my friends to celebrate and come together. 

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