Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Traditional English Pub

Andrew Cusack decries the total invasion of public houses around the English-speaking world by the dreaded television screen. Of the 60,000 pubs in the UK alone, how many of these can now claim to offer an undistractingly traditional setting? Methinks the man has a point:

There is no greater killer of good conversation than the massive influx of television screens into the pubs. Just the other evening I was down in our regular in Bronxville and from my vantage point alone I could see three television screens. The bright technicolor projection of baseball, soccer, football, and rugby into an otherwise dark space is too great a distraction for the eye. Bad enough sitting in a booth, it is even worse having dinner at the bar when you do not at least have the advantage of sitting opposite your drinking companion. How much more of a good time it would be without those dazzling displays, and without the obnoxiously loud music, either piped in from the jukebox or else some third-rate band singing third-rate cover songs of third-rate rock groups. Bleccch! It is those moments when one yearns to be ensconced by the fire in the Russell on the Scores in St Andrews, either accompanied solely by a book and a solid pint, or engaged in the usual joviality with the after-Rosary crowd.

Read: 'We've Lost More Than We'll Ever Know'. In Three Corners of the Commonwealth, Popular Musicians Demonstrate Rejection of Modernity.


Anonymous said...

Hillaire Belloc: "When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England!"

Never a truer word, etc. I know of fewer than half a dozen real pubs left in London (the Queen's Arms off Queen's Gate, the Bricklayers on Rathbone Place, the White Bear in Hampstead etc), and only a couple of dozen even in rural Shropshire. They've all been bought out by chain pubs which sell the same beer, show the same football matches on big screens every Saturday, and have oh-so-amusing names like the Poorly Parrot or the Feisty Goat, replacing the totally-last-week old names like the Bush, the Cockpit and the Red Lion.

Although I was pleased a few months ago to see a chain pub round the corner from me in Bloomsbury being taken back into private ownership and its old name, The Cornwallis, restored. Actually I was particularly amused to see some American students with a guidebook standing outside it saying, "Hey, the Corn-wallis... sounds cool," and happily toddling inside for a drink. I'm quite sure they'd have gone into a pub called The Banastre Tarleton, too...


Mark said...

In my home town every pub is without TV. Unfortunately one of the nicest has loud, blathering, self-consciously trendy music.

At Oxford I don't remember any of our locals having TV.

But the dread music - killer of conversation, silencer of the folksy sound of clinking glass and laughter - abounded quite often.

Give me a fireplace, old wooden chairs, a pint of creamy bitter, a packet of pork scratchings, and a good friend or newspaper.

Aunt Vanessa said...

I'm in the U.S. and not only do we have televisions in ALL of our bars (pubs) but also in pratically all of our restaurants. It's awful. Gone is the enjoyment of conversation.

Scott said...

An irony here is that Wetherspoon's - owners of the pub pictured - are one of the grottiest, sourest possible pub chains in the whole country (having banned all smoking yonks ago, stocking their bars full of cheap and fluorescent liquors, playing loud music, and filling every corner with garish carpet, cheap furniture, and tacky quiz machines).

Living in vacations by Blackdown, along the Surrey/Sussex/Hampshire borders, I am however very luckily close to many great old pubs, tucked away at country cross-roads, standing there from the time of Chaucer, full of thunderous fires, jolly barkeepers (albeit in polo sport denim shirts these days), fine ale, and delicious tucker.

Neil Welton said...

Hang on, hang on.

What is all the fuss about?

Television in pubs is the free market at work! :-)

Younghusband said...

Neil, come to the freest market on earth- here in China. I used to frequent a pub here in Beijing called the Edinburgh. Beautiful, dark, quiet, atmospheric with some guy singing his heart out on his guitar on a little stage; unlike any other bar in town. Then last year the TV situation went nuts. Every angle you turned was a TV, each showing the same bloody thing. This being China, it would usually be about some woman talking about how long her hair was.
Tvs everywhere here- in the lift, on the bus, in the taxi. It's absolutely madness. I urge patrons to fight to prevent this insidious invasion from taking root back in the civilised world.

Neil Welton said...

Are you suggesting that China is not a relatively free market where you can not sell goods and services to the people?
I must tell my friends in business and in the City!

Television in pubs is there because the majority want it. They demand it and they need it. As I have been so reliably informed on this blog we must have unremitting market forces in all aspects of our lives - even if some people suffer harshly as a result. You therefore will not blame me if I now decide to "walk on by" and demand all pubs have televisions - in the name of free choice.

Now please stop complaining about televisions in pubs because you are in a minority in the free market. :-)

Scott said...

Stop being childish.

The so-called free market force of television demand is hardly being obviously or purely satisfied: I think you'll find that lots of people, tolerant and meek as the Britannic tend to be, put up with it to a very great extent, even as it wastes the whole experience to nothing.

Neil Welton said...

Hee! Hee!

I have made my point.

"Always be careful what you wish for."