A Cornish Pasty, yesterday. Better than real ale. Not as good as pubs.
A new survey of 7,000 people conducted by Holiday Inn asked people in the UK what they loved most about Britain. And despite relentless bad publicity, misinformation, the smoking ban, soaring beer duty and cheaper-than-water beer in supermarkets, "old-fashioned British pubs" came in at NUMBER THREE, behind Her Maj in second place, and fish and chips in pole position. This means that the great British pub is officially cooler than:
- The Beatles
- Manchester United (yeah, I know - we hardly needed telling that)
- James Bond
- Steven Fry
- Er... the NHS
So why is the pub struggling so much? Well, there's a clue in the way this story was reported in The Express, which refers to the pub as a "nostalgic symbol of a bygone Britain". Pubs are fine when seen in the same light as red telephone boxes and cream teas, it's just the modern pub we don't like.
Except we do.
Fashions in the on-trade are cyclical, and the very best pubs today are redicovering the joys of the traditional English pub - its decor, its menu, its range of cask ales - and presenting them in a way that's appealing and contemporary rather than retro. This survey is proof that people respond to that.
Incidentally, real ale made the list at number 40. Not as cool as Routemaster buses, Glastonbury or Cornish pasties. But way more loved than Pimms, David Bowie, the E-type Jag, Prince Harry, and - oh, sweet joy - the bride of Satan herself, Margaret Thatcher.
Erm, Morris Dancers just sneak in at number 50.