The word pub (or public house, or tavern, or inn) has a long history and can be traced to the ancient root words puggaree (to gambol) and tabernacle (tent). The earliest references refer to places where travellers would spend the night. Today, a pub is generally considered to be a cosy place where people gather to drink beer and talk.
Pubs are often the heart of a community. They are a place where locals gather for comedy or tragedy, to share their triumphs and sorrows, and to encounter the warmth of strangers. The best ones are not always the most historic or beautiful, but those which have the spirit of their locals. The stickiness of the tabletops, landlords’ tales and suspicious stains on the floor are the marks of a good pub. They are classless, where no-one sneers or feels excluded. They are a symbol of whatever community they serve, and are often sentimentalised by the inhabitants – but if you go back far enough you’ll find that they were once just as ordinary as any other public house.
But sadly, it seems as though the traditional British pub is dwindling. Many of them are now loud and garish, with nonstop Sky Sports and St George’s flags on the carpet. Those that survive have a sense of nostalgia and try to recreate the idealised pubs of old – where there was ‘gentle hubbub of animated conversation’ and ‘no fights, no slurs’.