Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

Cheshire Life - - Front Page -

Ahead of us stretches Oc­to­ber - the month of ab­sti­nence. It’s not just Stop­to­ber, urg­ing the dwin­dling por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion ad­dicted to to­bacco to stub it out - but also Go Sober for Oc­to­ber, which en­cour­ages an al­co­hol-free month to raise money for Macmil­lan Cancer Sup­port.

Be­fore you know it, Dry Jan­uary will be upon us. Is this the wrong time, then, for us to be fea­tur­ing ten cosy coun­try pubs? Quite the op­po­site. The more I see of pubs, the more I re­alise they are a pow­er­ful force for good, a so­cial glue at a time of dis­con­nected lives, un­less, of course, you count so­cial me­dia as con­nect­ing with peo­ple, but I have my reser­va­tions about that.

Delve back in his­tory and the pub was a den of in­iq­uity. Take the Ge­orge and Dragon in Great Bud­worth. A nicer pub you could not hope to find, and the vil­lagers are very lucky to have it. But in a by­gone age, wives would wait out­side the pub on Fri­day af­ter­noons to stop their salt worker hus­bands spend­ing their wage pack­ets over the bar. A relic of those days is the in­scrip­tion in the pub’s porch, en­treat­ing us to ‘slay that dragon drunk­en­ness’.

Let’s not for­get that pub open­ing hours were first brought in to stop mu­ni­tion work­ers tak­ing long liq­uid lunches dur­ing the First World War. Lloyd Ge­orge said: ‘Drink is do­ing us more dam­age in the war than all the Ger­man sub­marines put to­gether.’ Steady on Lloyd!

A cen­tury on, cheap su­per­mar­ket booze is the big prob­lem, and pubs ac­tu­ally tend to be up­hold­ers of re­spon­si­ble drink­ing. In many smaller com­mu­ni­ties, where church con­gre­ga­tions have dwin­dled and shops and post of­fices have closed, pubs tend to be the only place where peo­ple gather un­der the same roof.

A pub closed - and they are still clos­ing at a rate of 18 a week across Bri­tain - is a com­mu­nity as­set lost. So we’re par­tic­u­larly glad to be also re­port­ing this month on a pub given a new lease of life: the Yew Tree Inn in Bun­bury, thriv­ing un­der new own­er­ship af­ter a few months out of com­mis­sion at the start of this year. May the Yew Tree bloom and grow!

“Wives would wait out­side the pub on a Fri­day to stop their salt worker hus­bands spend­ing their wage pack­ets over the bar”

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