[Image: Alert Kid, 2010, JA Van Devender]
Is 29:13 (NASB)
Because this people draw near with their words
And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
From today's NYT: Saving an....
Changing economics and shifting tastes have claimed roughly one out of every five pubs during the last two decades in Britain, and things are growing worse. Since the 2008 financial crisis, 7,000 have shut, leaving some small communities confronting unthinkable: life without a “local,” as pubs are known.
This kid struck such a classic pose that I couldn't resist recasting it as a painting. Secure in his footing, alert in his stance, there was little going on about him (her?) that went unnoticed by those sharp eyes. Life was changing all about him. He was part of a flock of about 10 magnificent animals that showed very little concern about the gathering crowd of tourists and their persistent cameras. They stood in regal stance and surveyed us with a seemingly cynical disdain. The kid, well he was just curious.
I suppose the photo has some connection with the article from the NYT. I could stretch a point and say that we should be alert as he to the changes going on around us but that would be so contrived as to be embarrassing. So... I'll just leave him on his ledge and bewail the decline of the last bastion of British traditionalism still persisting in the barren and banal "now-ism" that is choking the life of living.
Can you imagine Britain without pubs? Not I. They gave up their bowler hats years ago. The aristocrats have been bludgeoned out of their estates and "Upstairs/Downstairs", or even "Downton Abbey", styles of living are as archaic as flintstone knives. The Brits, as a race, were in years past, one of the most irritating and fascinating of people. No one did arrogance as well as they. No race produced such classics of literature in Western literature. There was something in their "it's just not done" attitude that was probably more celebrated in the exception than the observance, but it stabilized the world for a couple of centuries. At the heart of their culture was the "common sense" and community that bred generations dedicated to the stubborn preservation of civilized behavior and values.
I will never forget their description of the hordes of rough Americans who descended upon them during "The War." They said the Americans were "Over paid, over sexed and over here!" I am pretty sure the last observation was the most damning in their sight. Traditional American disregard of convention was... well... rude. Such was the genial sniff that was expressed in many a common pub, as the hard-pressed older generation, left to run the economy as the young were sent off to die in Flanders Fields, mumbled to each other over their pints of bitters in their home pub.
The decline of pubs in Britain is pretty much a parallel to the extinction of "community" in the US. Urban, suburban or rural, the commonality of life with geographic neighbors is pretty much a thing of the past. It snuck up on us here as mobility made commuting an individual rather than a group event. When you ride a trolley or a city bus or tractor every day with your neighbors, going off to work together at the local mill or field, the shared experience and conversation built something intangible into life. In my romantic vision, the local pub was where the British honed this experience to a fine art.
I have spent some extraordinarly pleasant hours in those establishments. The infectous good humor even extended to joining in the songs.... something I cannot image doing in the US. And the idea of Karioke sends shivers down my spine.
So, .... I hope something can be done to preserve a few of those grand old establishments without having to kill them with modern chrome, stainless steel and bright lights. They represent more than warm beer and ruddy faces.... there's value in continuity of little traditions as well as big ones, at least where civilization is at stake.