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iPads In Pubs: Grrrr

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Maybe it's because I'm a bit of an old curmudgeon. Or at least getting that way. If you ever go into a pub in the middle of the afternoon and see several men, sitting on their own, reading and sinking a couple of pints before wandering home to watch the 6 o'clock news and eat something involving meat and two veg, that's me.

Actually, I'm very partial to a curry, but you get the picture. Old geezers, often on the real ale rather than the lager, contemplating the meaning of life, or their wife, or just staring into space. You get groups of them too, discussing the war, or Cheryl Cole's legs.

You rarely see single women in pubs. I did recently, actually, and it looked odd. For men, it's a bit like the shed - somewhere to escape to, and to read: Autocar magazine, in my case. If my local Wetherspoons has a decent guest ale on, and the mag has reviewed a new Ferrari, then I'm in heaven. Almost. It's about simple pleasures; they're often the best.

You can take your computer everywhere these days. Smart phones and tablets enable us to carry email and the internet, our music and photos with us each time we go out. As I'm sipping my ale, I may also be Googling the football results, or checking the headlines. I'm a quiet, well-behaved drinker.

Recently, however, I've spotted a danger with technology in pubs, because tablets can double as TVs. I was quietly reading my Kindle not long ago, when a couple with an iPad started watching what appeared to be live television as they drank their drinks. I got the impression it was live because the channel kept changing. Or maybe they were on a catch-up service and were using the pub's wifi to keep up to date with their favourite soaps, flicking between Corrie and 'Enders.

Whatever it was, however, it was mighty irritating. It was as if someone had grabbed the remote and was refusing to give it back, inflicting their taste not just on their family, but on a whole pub. As well as the mature gentlemen nursing their precious pints, there were couples and groups of friends being disturbed too.

My blood pressure also rose in another of my locals, when a couple started watching music videos on a tablet. I was typing on my laptop, beside which was a very nice pint. There was an open log fire spreading the most wonderful scent through the hostelry, and Stevie Wonder was on the main speakers. As early evenings go, it was almost perfect.

Except for the pesky iPad.

So: young people of Britain. And a few older ones too, I dare day. A pub is not your own personal TV room. It's not what Americans would call their den. It's a public place where men of a certain vintage are trying to unwind and escape from the real world for a while.

Without that vital sanctuary, who knows what might happen? There would be more divorces for a start. More sheds, prompting more arguments over planning permission, and middle aged men looking bereft as they wander from pub to pub, searching for something that looks like home: somewhere quiet, and maybe a little basic, but which serves good ale and leaves you alone with your thoughts and your newspaper.

The pub is a vital part of British civilisation. Steve Jobs and his ubiquitous pieces of technology must not be allowed to ruin it. Perhaps there should be a collection at the door: 'all ye who enter here surrender your tablets.'

They could be given a ticket, like in a night club cloakroom.

Of course they'd get it back when they left, but in the meantime, the old geezers could get on with being old geezers. A quiet pint must be a human right. Surely.