The ‘Today’ programme has ‘Thought for the day’ at about 07:45 every day. This God-slot is rather contraversial, just for being there, let alone the subject matters.

This morning, the woman (denomination forgotten) was going on about Public House (pub) closures, and how, instead of giving up alcohol for Lent (next week), people should start visiting the pub again, generally increasing social contact, and incidentally helping the struggling pub trade.

What rubbish. Pubs are not closing down due to lack of social contract, but as an unintended consequence of government meddling. Huge estates of pubs are now owned by so-called ‘Pubco’s (as opposed to the Brewers themselves). Pubcos get the gullible in as new landlords, and ruin them over the ‘tie’ – they have to purchase all their drink from the same Pubco they rent the Public House (their business and indeed home) from, at prices that are hugely inflated over supermarket prices for the same items.

As a result, the pubs are not profitable concerns, and the current ‘Mine Host’ goes bust.

Not surprisingly, the high prices in a pub means people buy beer or wine in the supermarket and stay at home.

When I was a student, I would regularly go into a pub as part of an evening out. I cannot remember the last time I was in a pub. I spent five minutes after I wrote that, and still cannot remember when – it has become so infrequent and so rare. Probably, it was with the choir I sing in, and the reason I stopped going there was due to the barn of a place they choose to go, empty of atmosphere, as well as the pressure of work. Oh, I’ve just remembered, I even put it in this blog – the day of Aunt’s funeral, we went to the pub she frequented (for food) for our lunch after the service. More than two years ago, and not for alcohol.

The consequence of this is that pubs are closing down, there are not so many gullible people left, so they remain empty. Then, sadly, they are demolished, or converted into housing or other commerical property. I say sadly, but a Pubco is in fact a huge estate management company, and a pub a loss-making enterprise, whereas developing the building (or the site) for housing or supermarkets or whatever is far more profitable short and long term. There is just the small difficulty of change of use to get around, and if the building can no longer function as a pub, who will complain about a change of use?

Or am I just a cynic?

Let’s look at some evidence. I do not mention the town for these pubs, but most are within a five mile radius of one point, the first is beyond that point, but relivent.

The ‘Duke of Wellington’, is having a week-end closing party, this weekend. I know this because I drove past it this afternoon. And the signs don’t suggest the end of tenure of Mine Host (what is normally considered the Landlord, but I have not used that term due to confusion over leases, freehold, etc), but the ‘last ever’ party. As if the fate of the building is already sealed (but I have no information on this).

(added later) The now closed and boarded-up 'Duke of Wellington'. Who knows what will happen to this building now.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the road to the 'Duke', this pub has been closed and boarded up for some time - perhaps over a year now?

The ‘Green Man’. Recently demolished in favour of a Supermarket ‘Tiny’ branch, after a couple of failed attempts to keep it going. To modern eyes, there are still far too many pubs in this ‘village’, often within a stone’s throw of each-other (the Cherry Tree, within a stone’s throw, currently survives). There is also ‘Green Dragon’, ‘Stag’, and perhaps one other still in that village.

‘The Bell’, is up for lease; meanwhile there is a plethera of pubs around the eponimus Green of the nearby village may survive on townies going out for an evening.

The ‘George V’, the ‘Golden Fleece’, and countless others – signs up looking for people wanting to run a pub (aka ‘Mugs’), now being the time, the signs suggest to sink [your] redundancy pay into this sucessful enterprise (sic).

'George V' is still trading, but Mine Host clearly wants out...

The ‘Halfway House’, within a stone’s throw of ‘George V’, now demolished and redeveloped as a block of flats. In a last ditch attempt to survive, they had ‘exotic’ dancers all day. It gets as desperate as that.

I could go on, it gets so depressing. But what am I doing, writing this on a Saturday Night. Well, of course, no attraction to go to any of the surviving local pubs (awful places), which, in any case are quite a walk away (not sure why the nearest is so far away, I’m not aware of this being Quaker land, or other reason for a conventant that prevented pubs in this area).

(Mote added March 5th). Photos taken in the past few days as I have passed the buildings. There are plenty of other examples, it may be that it was not convenient to take a photo, or…

Some Public Houses survive by becoming restaurants, only open weekends, high days and holidays. Generally these are in the country, with no local population around them, so must survive on either the ‘passing trade’ or those who drive out specifially for such a visit.

It is already happening, but I forsee far fewer ‘Public Houses’ in future, and those that do survive will be unrecognisable to anyone sprited from (say) the 1970s to now. One change I am grateful for, though, is the smoking ban.

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Modern technology failing

February 5, 2012

I know I’m not a regular blogger, but was hampered by one of the two events of the week that has caused me a lot of trouble. My computer kept crashing.

This is my ‘new’ computer, which has been in use for less than a year, although I have had it for somewhat longer. This was because due to the computer’s own firmware, I was unable to install linux on it for some time (until a later version of linux had code to overcome the issue).

The ‘new’ computer had started to crash with frequency but irregularity, for no obvious reason, other than possibly the use of a lot of memory at that moment. But nothing obvious I could use as a clue.

The result of this – the forth commissioning of the ‘old’ computer. The first recommissioning (the second commissioning) was done to this, already old and second-hand computer in 2002, when it became the ‘remote’ company computer at parents house when I was looking after my late Father while my Mother was in hospital. My Father had early-stage Alzheimer’s at the time, which is why someone had to be with him all the time, and it fell to me as the unmarried child.

The next commissioning was when the main SCSI computer’s main hard disk died, in about 2008. By that time, SCSI technology and been and gone, so there was nothing available to replace the dud disk, so the by this time already aged computer had another commissioning. It was supposely retired for the third time in March last year.

But it’s been brought back into service due to the failure of the ‘new’ computer (also referred to as the atomic doorstop, which is effectively what it has been for much of its life), and while no data has been lost, the age of this venerable computer means that installing all the relivent back-ups has taken a lot of time (and is still continuing – not ‘on-going’).

The next thing to go was my ‘new’ mobile phone – 15 months old. It has a touch screen, which I found useful for one purpose only – the qwerty keyboard it could produce for writing text messages. Without the working touch-screen, as I found out, the only thing that one could do with the phone was receive a call – and not even pick up voicemail.

So, can you guess, I recommissioned my ‘old’ – previous – mobile phone. This one had died once, prompting the emergency purchase of the ‘new’ one, but with a subsequent firmware upgrade via the internet, it sprang back into life, and was kept mainly as a camera, as its camera had flash. I have discovered that flash is rather a rarity on mobile phones, yet the things I want the camera on the phone for all so often require flash.

I even have an older mobile phone than that – the one I refer to must be at least ten years old now, which I keep in the car. Its great virtue is that it can be operated from standard ‘AA’ batteries, so I keep those in the car as
well. It’s just a pain that a brilliant (in more than on sense of the word) LED torch, that is worn on the forehead, and has already been used for one car repair in the dark – what a godsend it proved – uses ‘AAA’ batteries!

I’ve tagged this entry with ‘dumbing-down’ really on the basis of things not being made now as good as they used to be. This, more generally, has been a major bug-bear of late, but will be the topic of another entry – as will the consequences of this year’s snowbound South of England, which will also be tagged similarly!