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Jeremy Corbyn attracted a lot of flak last week for his suggestion that the practice of after-work drinks discriminated against mothers in the work place. On the one hand, it came across as an anti-fun and Puritanical pronouncement from a well-known teetotaller, while on the other it seemed to demonstrate an old-fashioned and sexist view of women’s role in society. And you have to ask where that leaves the bar staff who are working through from teatime to closing time.
It’s also the case that after-work drinking has greatly reduced in recent years, which has made a significant contribution to the overall decline of pubs. It’s one of the major aspects of the decline of casual drinking recently discussed by Boak & Bailey. Outside of major city centres, it’s largely a thing of the past now.
A distinction needs to be drawn between employees voluntarily getting together of their own accord, and quasi-official “bonding” sessions encouraged by employers. I have to say I’ve always found the latter somewhat objectionable, which may have proved over the years to be something of a career-limiting factor. You have to work with these people – the last thing you want is to have to socialise with them as well! Work should be a source of income, not the be-all and end-all of your life.
I’ve also written in the past how I’ve never remotely seen the appeal. On the occasions when I’ve had a pint or two after work, it’s always completely thrown me off my stride for the rest of the evening. Maybe you eventually get used to it, but I’ve always preferred to hold off until after I’ve had my tea.
So, while I’m certainly not going to undergo an overnight conversion to Corbynism, there may be a bit of a point lurking in there somewhere.