When the boiler went on the blink, we didn't have to prize the yellow pages out from its invaluable role as a replacement bed-leg. We didn't have to trawl through thousands of pages of Google results listing every 'water system on-site service maintenance manager' from Aberdeen to Ashby-de-la-Zouch (who would no-doubt turn up sometime between 9 and 5, somewhere between Monday and Friday, if you asked nicely and paid through the nose. Or through PayPal). And we didn't have an anxiety attack because we couldn't find a suitable app on our i-phones.
We simply went down the boozer. And there, as sure as eggs is eggs (or egg-nog is egg-nog), standing at the bar enjoying a well earned restorative would be Mr. Pipe the Plumber. After enquiring about the health of his good lady, his offspring and his luck at the bookies, all one had to do was replenish his glass and a mutually beneficial arrangement could be reached in a trice. For cash. No questions asked.
Next to him would, likely as not, be the friendly local electrician, enjoying foaming ale with a carpenter or two, an errant gardener, and a brickie or three. And a quick glance around the hostelry would reveal that all human life was there; the cab driver spending his tips, the road sweeper idling away the day until clocking-off time, the milkman trying to stay awake, and sober 'til tea-time, the worn-out mother sneaking a quick G&T before trudging back to the school gates, the retired schoolmaster knocking off the times cryptic, the odd business man knocking-off his secretary. And best of all, everyone knew each other. (Let's just hope no-one knew the business man's wife).
That was a joy of a local. And there used to be one on every high-street. Which is why they were so aptly named.
These days, where once there was a haven where problems could be solved, where the world could be put to rights, where trade could be bartered, and where genuine human interaction could take place, there's now more likely to be a coffee shop where wi-fi internet action can take place, and where everyone can jabber incessantly into mobile phones, instead of actually talking to each other.
Or your local may have been converted into a designer flats, for people who are too busy to spend time with their other halves, let alone their friends and neighbours.
Or it might have become a florist. Or an antique emporium. Or a holistic bloody health centre.
Or, worst of all, it may have been taken over by a thinks-he's-a-celebrity chef or an entrepreneurial chain who know more about how we like to conduct our social lives than we do.
We don't want a quick, affordable pint or two and a chat to our mates, you see. Oh no, we want cloudy designer lagers with an alcohol strength that could floor Desperate Dan, and a selection of wines from every corner of the world, whose prices comfortably exceed their vintage. ('I'd recommend the £20.09 Chardonnay Madame. Really? Is that for a large glass or small?)
Blokes don't want to stand at the bar and chew the fat (that's pork scratchings to you) with their cronies and the friendly landlord - we'd much prefer to sit and discuss the football at sanded down refectory tables with fat candles belching acrid smoke and impossibly tiny vases of flowers between us.
We don't want to have a genial conversation. We want to bellow at the top of our voices over the cds chosen by the horribly hip bar staff, who are at least 25 years younger than any of the clientele.
We want to have to stand in the gangway trying not to look at the couple indulging in heavy petting on the carefully distressed leather sofa, because we're too embarrassed to sit opposite. (That's the sofa underneath the shelf of bought-by-the-yard antique books, not the one under the shelf of bought-by-the-yard interesting artifacts and ironically witty enamel signs, you understand).
And we don't want a snack; we want a four star, four course meal, that we have to order by contorting our bodies into impossible, slipped-disc inducing shapes to read the scrawled blackboards propped artfully around the room. And we want it served on breadboards. By Thai girls. Or surly but sultry Latvians.
And we don't want places that are open to everyone, of every class and creed. We want places for people like us. People who appreciate soft lighting and fine wines, and want to enjoy their Beluga Bellinis and chilled Martinis in peace.
So up with the 'no work clothes' signs and the 'smart dress only signs'. And up with the prices. That should keep the riff-raff out.