Carmen: The British pub is said to be “the heart of England”. There are around fifty thousand public houses, or pubs, in the UK.
This is the Crown, a pub in the village of Charlton on Otmore in Oxfordshire.
Pub names like “The Crown” and “The Prince of Wales” are very popular and celebrate the royal family.
The pub is a place to meet friends. But they are very different from a café as pubs serve alcohol.
At one point everyone drank beer. The water wasn’t very good so it was safer to drink beer than water. People often called this “small beer”.
Barmaid: Can I get you anything?
Carmen: No small, or large beer for me thanks.
In the past, the local pub was the centre of the community. Gossip and business deals happened right here in the pub.
The Crown is more than a hundred years old. The landlord, Mark Franklin, grew up in the village.
Carmen: Can I give you a hand with the polishing?
Mark: Yes you can.
Carmen: So Mark tell me how important is the pub for the community?
Mark: The pub is very important to the community because it’s the main meeting point for the village.
Carmen: So who comes here?
Mark: People come here from all walks of life, old and young. They meet here for darts nights and quiz nights.
Carmen: Great, so how has the pub changed over the years?
Mark: The pub has changed in the way we do food here now and we show satellite TV.
Carmen: Well many pubs like this in rural areas have closed. Do you think the Crown will stay open?
Mark: I hope the pub will stay open because I feel it’s the heart of the village. Would you like a drink?
Carmen: Oh yes please. This is thirsty work.
But there’s is a big difference between the rural village pub and pubs in towns and cities. There are many different types of pubs.
There are traditional pubs, famous for games like darts. And gastro pubs. These are pubs that serve expensive food.
There are also pubs that are owned by large companies. These pubs, wherever you are in the UK, all look very similar.
And then there are bars that look a bit like pubs. Like this one.
They seem to be having a good time. But drinking too much has become a problem in the UK.
When people drink a lot and get very drunk very quickly, this is called binge drinking. Binge drinking is increasing in young people.
There are several organisations that try to help young people with their drink problems. Glenda Lee works for Turning Point.
Carmen: So Glenda, tell me, do you see many young people with alcohol problems?
Glenda: We do, Carmen, we see more young people coming to us for help.
Carmen: So what kind of problems does drinking too much alcohol create?
Glenda: Drinking too much alcohol can lead to violence, accidents, to unprotected sex, to addiction and the possibility of death.
Carmen: Is it getting worse?
Glenda: Yes, the problem is getting worse. We’ve seen an increase in the past four years of young people and young adult drinking and especially binge drinking.
Carmen: So what are you doing about it?
Glenda: One thing that Turning Point is doing about it is a product called a binge pack. Inside is information about drinking, about how much is too much. We have a condom to encourage safe sex – and that’s a binge pack.
Carmen: Going to the pub is an important part of British culture. And drinking too much has become a problem. But going to the pub doesn’t mean you have to drink alcohol… I’m going to have a nice cup of tea!