I've just listened to this radio programme presented by the journalist Quentin Letts.
Letts has being doing a series called What's the Point of..? This week he looked at pubs. I know it's supposed to be light-hearted but I was slightly irritated by his assumption that British pubs are in decline, it's because of the smoking ban and drink-driving laws and the only answer is to target families and serve food, an assumption belied by the successful new pubs he visited, including wet-led ones.
I have no idea what pubs the Italian academic Letts interviewed has been drinking in but his paean to the classlessness of British pubs ("the banker and the shop assistant drinking together") is nonsense. Although Karl Marx is supposed to have joked that a revolution wouldn't start in Cologne because the bosses drank in the same pubs as their workers, British pubs have always been divided by class, both different types of pub (posh pubs, estate pubs) and inside the pub itself with the lounge/vault distinction. I used to work opposite two pubs: one was known and understood as the management pub where only supervisors and those aspiring to become one drank and the other as the workers' pub where you could go and talk about mangement without it getting back to them.