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27-01-2016, 16:58
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There’s been a lot of publicity this week about the benefits of having a good local pub (http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Popping-local-pint-good-study-reveals/story-28594620-detail/story.html). The value of companionship and belonging in pubs is something I’ve often referred to, and so I will wholeheartedly agree. As Dr Johnson famously said, “There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
But I have to question whether this represents a sentimental idea of pubs viewed through rose-tinted spectacles. How many people really have a “local” that produces that warm, inclusive feeling? I have a local pub, which I’ve written about extensively on here, that in many respects is very good. But, at many times, it isn’t welcoming to me because of part being reserved for diners and the rest dominated by TV football. You can’t go in and just have a chat with other customers.
For many people in Stockport, their “local” is the Crown, Magnet or Railway, even though they’re far from the closest to their houses. The pubs where I feel most at home are ones I have to travel some distance to reach. And the Rover’s Return, while it may have been vaguely realistic in 1960, would simply not exist in an inner-city location today.
Yes, pubs can be great, and people will tend to seek out pubs and become regular customers where they feel welcome and which suit their tastes. But I suspect few of us can genuinely claim that we have that cosy, friendly, supportive, mythical “local”.

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