The Lost Pub Project lists pubs in England that have closed and up until the 18 December 2012 the site had 21,917.entries. Let’s take a guess at each of those pubs being the place where around 500 different topics of conversations took place each day. That’s around 11 millions lost conversations (10,958,500).
The topics could be jokes, anecdotes, political debates, disagreements, celebrations, commiserations, flirting, mundane, weather, sport, local schools…anything.
All these stories lost forever.
Stories in the media like this are shocking: Is this the end of the British boozer? 18 pubs close every week in UK.
A pub is not just about alcohol. A pub is about conversations and people sharing stories. The thought of those conversations not happening and the impact on a town is quite depressing.
Everyone is equal in a pub. You walk in, get out some money and buy a drink. You can say a quick hello, start a chat or just smile and nod at anyone. And it’s that anyone that is so important. Where else can you do that?
In the summer I was in a pub and in around 20 minutes I spoke to four people: an off-duty police officer, a man who has done a stretch in prison for assault, a boss who earns over £100,000 a year and an unemployed man. Communities where people from different backgrounds live and mix are important. A pub is the ideal place for this to happen.
Sports clubs often base themselves in a pub. Where will teams go for an after match chat?
My father-in-law moved from Essex to south Wales a couple of years ago. His new local pub in Cwmbran was a short bus ride away quickly gave him new friends. That pub has now closed. Where else would he have got to know local people in a short space of time?
An elderly man used to walk passed my house most days of the week in the early morning and walk back with a newspaper under his arm. If I was off work I would see him in the early afternoon do the same walk but this time his walk back would take a bit longer. I once popped in the local pub and my father-in-law was chatting to this man and introduced me to him. Now this pub has closed I don’t see this guy doing his second walk of the day. I wonder what he is doing now? Sat at home on his own watching telly?
Meeting people, talking and sharing a joke is a great way to avoid being lonely and the health problems that can be linked. Will fewer pubs mean greater pressure on NHS mental health services?
Jobs are picked up in pubs. Over a beer my father-in-law found a landscape gardener who tides up his weeds every couple of months.
Politicians are using social media to debate issues with constituents In my area there are two thriving Facebook pages that are popular with local councillors, Torfaen Matters and Torfaen Today.
I do wonder whether local councillors would be more effective speaking to local voters in a pub instead of commenting on Facebook posts. Face to face is surely a much better way to win over voters in a debate on local issues?
On Christmas Eve I picked up a horse tip while stood at the bar of a pub. It lost but still I thought I was sitting on some secret information when I placed my £2 bet.. On Christmas Day I took my 6yo daughter at lunchtime to a pub where we met a gang of our neighbours for a chat. She loved seeing them and showing off her presents. The place was packed and I bet the number of stories shared over those midday drinks would have been in the thousands.
One pub in my town is setting up a savings club in January (I’ll blog about it on Cwmbran Life soon) where people can meet on a Saturday and pay a few quid into an account ready for next Christmas. The couple running this pub are trying to be different and you’ve got to applaud that.
I’ve written this in the last hour but plan to come back to the importance of pubs for another post at a later date.