Friday, January 14, 2005

Last Call, Last Call.

I heard it on the radio. Just another one of those "passing of time" stories that make you wonder about the permanance of modern culture and the making of custom.

Apparently, the pubs in Britain are up for a change. That change, as outlined in this Business Week article, may see the end of the 11:00 closing time, a mainstay since the time of World War I. As with many issues, I can see positives and negatives:
  1. PRO - I am a firm believer in the right of people to do as they wish as long as the rights of others are not compromised. You wanna drink all day and night? Fine. Just be prepared for a searing hangover and a possible loss of job/money/clothes/whatever. The provisions would even allow some 24-hour licences for pubs. These places serve their function, but they are rarely the most pleasant of places. They are like a car lube place: gets the job done, but not much to look at. This would also be more responsive to people's variable schedules, especially in urban areas. Lastly, these laws, instituted in 1914, were designed with outmoded social conscience in mind. The powers-that-be wanted factory workers (working class, poor, Catholic, Irish and such) to be sober and ready to serve the war industries and keep the empire humming along. Well, the empire has been wiped out since 1945, so why not let loose a bit?
  2. CON - When I was in Great Britain in 1997, the closing time was an interesting challenge in planning for a "drinking gent" such as myself. Had to hit the "off-license" during the day to stock up for when the bar closes. Also, 11:00PM is a good dividing line for "punters" or people who are in for the long haul. Lastly (directed at the British), preserve your culture. With the growing role of Europe and homoginization in the West, hold on to what you can that makes you special. Winston Churchill said that "Britain is in Europe, but not of Europe." Britain has its own drinking culture; don't let it become continental. Stay strong and loaded before 11:00PM!

Raise a glass. We may never pass this way again.

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