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    Entries in Andy W (1)

    Friday
    May062011

    I know it sounds like a rubbish lifestyle supplement question, but – is Facebook killing off the British pub?

    Flickr: ollesvensson
    Last year I left the pub trade after 20 years as a landlord in a market town in Yorkshire. I think I was fairly good at the job, as my pubs were busy and I generally managed an ok profit, but I was glad to get out in the end. This was mainly because I got sick of working weekends and breaking up fights, but also because it did feel towards the end as if pubs were in a decline that wasn’t going to turn round. Since I left the job, people often mention this to me – and then offer the opinion that supermarkets are to blame. 
     
    I’m not sure about this though. It’s true that supermarkets have undercut pub prices, with the result that lots of landlords buy their booze at Tesco now because the discounted stuff is cheaper than wholesale. It’s also true that annoyed punters now have a new ritual of looking at their change and asking if you’ve short-changed them, in order to register their annoyance. But having listened to people at the bar over the last few years, my impression is that the decline is due to a bigger change in people’s lives. 
     
    When I started, people in the town came into the pub mainly to see their mates. It was a question of staying-in-touch with each other. At the end, I used to hear them coming in and discussing what each other had said on Facebook or a text message, or Twitter or whatever. Sometimes it was as if the pub was becoming secondary, or a place for special occasions. It certainly wasn’t the main axis of communication as it used to be. Where would you be most likely to pick up a rumour now, pub or online?
     
    It’s not really as simple as saying Facebook killed off the pub. But it was definitely in the area when the crime was committed.