It has often seemed to me that pubs and churches have much in common. They perform many of the same functions and have many common characteristics.
Both are semi-public places of social interaction, where people go to feel a sense of community, to see and be seen. They are places where stories are told and news shared, where music and songs are played, where communal bonds are forged.
Both are places where the mundane routine of the week is broken, where personal and social rites of passage are marked.
Both have their own little rituals, their own subtle rules of social propriety.
Both offer temporary escape from reality of life and from the loneliness of the self.
Both, in moderation, can be pleasant, integrating, uplifting experiences – but both, if taken to excess, will drain all your money and time, leave you brain dead, and make you obnoxious and potentially violent towards your fellow-man.
Both are splendidly medieval, yet still vital, in their complementary ways, to life of a settled and balanced community.
Both, like nettles and doc-leaves, seem to spring up side-by-side, and often in the boggy ditches of life.
Both are better when they provide food to weary travellers on the road.
Both are utterly ruined by halfwitted attempts to make them ‘trendy’.
And, last but not least, both are much better if you just enjoy the general ambience, and ignore the opinionated loudmouth who stands up every week and tries to convince you of his slightly-fascist and quite deluded views of the world.