Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Disappearing Local

Here’s a thought, and not a very happy one at that. This is the first week of the school summer holidays – now there IS a happy thought – and every summer I find myself toying with the idea of the week long quiz marathon, trying to play a quiz each night of the week. This would have to be next week , you understand, being as it’s already Tuesday and I didn’t go out last night. Still, albeit that I already have Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday planned, this still left the other three days, and so I found myself googling to see what, if any, quizzes that I don’t know about might be happening within a reasonable distance from home.

To say that there’s not a lot being advertised is a bit of an understatement. We have what I believe is technically called an ongoing Old Mother Hubbard situation. Yet that’s not the saddest thing, sad though it certainly is. No, the worst thing is when I started looking fairly close to home I kept coming across pubs in which I’ve either played social quizzes, or league quizzes at some time in the last twenty years which have closed down, some of which have been converted into flats, and some of which have even been pulled down completely. Maybe it’s a sign of the times, or maybe it’s always been like this – I don’t know. But it is a shame

Now, before you start to draw your own conclusions from the mournful tone of this post, I want to stress now that my sadness for the passing of these pubs has nothing to do with the consumption of alcohol. I’m certainly not a hard drinker ( hard drinker ? No sir, I find it very easy . . . boom boom – Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show c.1976 )In fact virtually teetotal. But it is a shame to see a pub where you played in some good old ding dong league matches, or where they held a fun and well attended social quiz, all shut down , boarded up and forlorn, or heaven forbid, gone completely. When you think about it there aren’t that many essentials for a pub quiz. You need the questions and the answers, people to play and a question master. And you need a pub. Yes, I’m sure that we’ve all played in places like village halls and leisure centres, and these are worthy ventures, capable of hosting a good quiz. But they’re not the same.

Not that I’m suggesting for one minute that the local pub will disappear completely. But it does lead me to worry for the small place that has its own question master who prepares an individual quiz just for that place , and those players every week. In the words of Joni Mitchell, don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got till it's gone. (Mind you she also wrote that they paved paradise, so how much attention should you pay to her ?)


DanielFullard said...

I too have the fear that normal locals will be submerged into chains...Weatherspoons, Yates and loads of other chains are moving in massively now

Londinius said...

Hi Daniel

Yes, you are right. I didn't go into this in the post , since I didn't want to start knocking the chains, but they do produce a very uniform, homoegnous, and ultimately rather bland experience. Which admittedly is still better than no experience at all.

Paul Steeples said...

I think it's unlikely that locals will be taken over by chains. A friend of mine told me that Wetherspoons, for one, will hardly ever take over a failed pub, since they figure that it probably failed because of its location. If people drink in pubs at all these days, they tend to drink near where they work rather than where they live, which is why shops and banks in town centres become pubs and pubs in residential areas close. Way of the world, I'm afraid.

DanielFullard said...

Well, there are a lot of stealth chains moving in at the minute. We all know about Yates and Whetherspoons etc but there are at least half a dozen other "chains" who are acquiring pubs and changing them to "thier way". Sometimes its not very noticeable buts its scary how much it is happening.

Paul I know of Whetherspoons in this part of the world who do take over failed pubs and turn them into something better. In fact I think all 3 in Sunderland were acquired on the back of previous owners going bust....the attraction of the cheap prices can turn a bad pub into a good one simply with the chain on the door