Leading article: Youthful pleasures

What is the country coming to? Last year the headquarters of Methodism applied for a licence to serve alcohol. Now we learn that the Youth Hostel Association that last resort of the impecunious leisure-seeker has obtained permission for almost 100 of its 250 premises to sell strong drink. And not just at cocktail hour, but around the clock.

We have known for some time, of course, that youth hostels were smartening up their act, trying to appeal to our pampered en-suite generation. But before we have even got used to hostelling without bare boards, bunk-bedded dormitories and floor-sweeping-before-you-go, here they are offering us a drink.

Some neighbours, scared by lurid accounts of Saturday night in the city, are up in arms. We beg them to give the hostellers a break. All the YHA is doing is moving with these less ascetic times. It's not brickbats it deserves, but "Cheers!".

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