Over here, Gaw talks about the march of time and the fading of shared experiences. I was thinking about something on a similar theme only this week, as I stood in an excellent pub with my father as he held court with his cronies.
We all know pubs are dying, thats a given, and people of my generation seem to be as upset about it as everyone else. But it's a fact that people of my age group simply don't use the pub as older people do. For men of my father's age, the pub is an automatic destination. Staying the night in a strange town? Sniff out a welcoming looking hostelry and chat with some locals at the bar. This is so instinctively done that I honestly think if you asked him he would say that it's not something he would think about, it's just something you do.
For people of my age group who are uninterested in the binge-drinking townie barns that have infected the nation, pubs seem to have lost their pull. None of my contemporaries would go regularly to a pub on week nights, as they think this would affect their work performance - something that would never occur to a man like my father. They might go on a friday night for a few, but only with friends and never alone, and I can't imagine many of them striking up a conversation at the bar.
We've become so much more insular. We feel no compulsion to reach out to others, no draw in the shared camraderie of some blokes having some pints, playing spoof and setting the world to rights. I feel no special affinity to drinking culture particularly, but I do feel that we are losing a valuable part of a cohesive society, the ability to connect if only for a short period of time, and have to engage in conversation with someone who may be from an entirely different background to yourself. Being able to do this is a valuable tool in life, and it's a shame that our youth may never learn the joy to be had in briefly becoming concious of other lives and cultures, and the exitement of being in a place where the path of the evening becomes random and uncertain, a place where friends can be made, and adventures can happen.