A British public house, known as a pub, can be a wonderful place. It can be the hub of local life, the village or neighbourhood. It can be where the newcomer meets local people, where he can found out how to find the best plumber, free range eggs or fresh wild rabbit for the pot. It might serve good food from local ingredients; it should always have quality real ales on draught and an appropriately priced wine list. On cold winter days a good pub has a log fire alight from opening to closing. The publican, his wife and staff are friendly and efficient. The stereotype of a buxom barmaid in a low cut dress who flirts with the male drinkers is an asset to the publican.
The pub can also be a dismal place only frequented by those living very close by. Aging wall paper and pictures, and a depressed publican who longs to retire or for the owners, a brewery perhaps, to close it down. Market forces are diminishing the latter and promoting the former it seems and so they should.
A pub has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I first remember a pub as somewhere my father used to go at around nine in the evening on many days. In those days the “local” as it is often called was about ten minutes walk away from home and slightly uphill so he was able to claim that the walk there and back was good for him. It probably was; he lived until he was 82.