By Jason Moore
WHAT is the key element of Britain's two leading soap operas? The pub. Everything that is going to happen in either Coronation Street or Eastenders usually starts or ends in the pub. While both programmes are screened before the water-shed they both include relatively heavy drinking. The pub in Britain is far more important than it is on mainland Europe. Spanish soap operas do not revolve around bars, while they still play a key role in Spanish society they are not vital. You can't make British pubs more continental because they are nothing like what you find on mainland Europe. In other words the drinking culture is very different. The majority of Spaniards go home when they finish work...they don't go down the pub. British pubs and Spanish bars are like chalk and cheese even though they both offer alcohol. 24-hour drinking in Spain is possible because there is a far different drinking culture. This is why I believe that it is absolute madness to allow pubs to open 24 hours a day. My childhood experiences of pubs in Britain was waiting outside in the car or in the beer garden sipping a Coca Cola and eating a packet of crisps. Actually going into a pub when I was 14, was a real milestone. Last orders at 2p.m. on a Sunday was quite an event. If Britain is serious about trying to control drinking then it should re-establish the drinking laws of the early 1980s, when binge-drinking was unheard of. Plenty is said about continental style drinking habits so why is it that British and Irish style pubs are so popular with the continentals; because they offer something that bars don't have.

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