While England drinks to new pub hours Scots stand by dry tradition

'Dinner time' keeps drinkers in routine
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All-day Sunday licensing yesterday liberated South Yorkshire drinking with all the froth of a pint of flat southern ale, writes Jonathan Foster.

From Grimethorpe to Grenoside, most pubs and clubs closed as usual at 2.30pm or 3pm, allowing the lads that vital sleep on the settee before turning out again last night.

Reform of the law to permit Sunday afternoon drinking for the first time in England and Wales did make an impact in the Peak district countryside. "But we've always stayed open on Sunday afternoons, selling soft drinks, coffee, tea and food," said Sheila Liston, landlady of the Ladybower Inn, west of Sheffield. "It will be better - a lot of people have complained that they couldn't get alcohol even if they were eating."

Serious drinkers would no more stray into the hills than have friends round for drinks. "Sunday dinner" is a well-defined behavioural pattern still observed strictly. It may involve a "walk" visiting several licensed premises, could take in bingo or bowls, and is compulsory for members of Sunday morning pub and club football teams. It is bitter-based, followed promptly by a meal, and recent upheavals have been more a gender issue than a change of licensing laws.

Women are increasingly to be seen drinking during the hours of Sunday dinner. They are known as "pudding burners", vituperative reference to their neglect of the kitchen. Pete Lonsdale, assistant secretary of Crookes workingmen's club, in Sheffield, said. "There's no call for extending hours at Sunday dinner. We'll close at 2.30. People are set in their ways. They want to go home, have their dinner, have a sleep and come out again at seven."

Crookes is a flourishing club with 1,300 members. Most agreed with Mr Lonsdale that 11pm closing on Sundays would have been a better change.

On The Wicker, a boulevard of notorious intemperance in Sheffield city centre, only one in five pubs stayed open. The cribbage players in the Bull and Oak made no protest when Trevor Edgerton, the landlord, called time at 3pm.

Those keen to carry on drinking always knew where to get a pint. "My lot probably never knew they were supposed to stop supping at three," said a Barnsley landlord famed for his hospitality.

And when Frank Flynn, a legendary Sheffield landlord, was told of the licensing extension allowing 12-hour drinking, he replied: "I'm not reducing my hours for anyone."