I have written before about how I changed from a regular pub-goer to a rather infrequent one and, following a recent post by Curmudgeon, I’m prompted to write again. Curmudgeon suggests that going to the pub for a drink has become much less socially acceptable over the years. I disagree, as to claim that pub going it is becoming more sociably unacceptable is to suggest that it is an activity that is frowned upon, or is even something which society as a whole does not approve of.
Whilst the latter point may well be the case amongst a small minority of rabid teetotallers I think it is less true than it was 40 years ago when I first started drinking. It was not, for example, an activity which my mother approved, and I would say it is something she still doesn’t much approve of today. Back in my schooldays, I can even remember one teacher, a Methodist lay-preacher no less, describing public houses as “dens of iniquity and inebriation”. Marvellous stuff, and like a throw-back to the height of the Temperance movement in Victorian times!
However, leaving questions of maternal and scholarly approval to one side, I would argue that people have stopped visiting pubs as frequently as they once did, not because it’s socially unacceptable, BUT because it’s either too expensive, or they have other, more important or interesting things to do with their time and their money.
Taking the financial argument, I am convinced that the price of a pint represents a far larger proportion of average take home pay than it did say 20 or 30 years ago. For example, back in the early 1980’s, I always seemed to have money for a pint whenever I felt like one, whereas now, despite my wages having probably quadrupled, an evening in the pub is an occasional treat rather than an everyday occurrence. Incredible, really; I earn far more than I’ve ever done before and yet I can’t afford to go to the pub with anything like the frequency I once used to. Something is definitely wrong somewhere!
Of course there are other factors to take into consideration. For a start my mortgage is considerably larger than it was 30 years ago, and there have been other large, inflation-busting increases in things like council tax, gas, water and electricity bills I run a car now, instead of relying on public transport to get around. I am also fortunate to be able to take more holidays, and these of course have to be paid for. All these factors add up to there being less money available for going to the pub.
It seems that whilst living standards have generally risen the price of a pint has risen much higher, and is now proportionally far higher than it has ever been. This is the MAIN reason why so many people, myself included, have stopped going to the pub on a regular basis. In short, WE JUST CAN’T AFFORD IT!