As you may or may not know, our new Mayor has instituted a dumbass law banning the drinking of alcohol on tubes, buses, trams, overground trains, stations… basically anything that is operated by Transport for London. How this will help I’m not sure. Are we intimidated by open containers, I wonder? Perhaps there is evidence of "second-hand drinking" we’ve yet to see?
Anyway, I was standing in the sun outside Liverpool Street Station the other day in a haze of cigarette smoke (I don’t smoke, btw, nor do I, for that matter, drink on public transport. But even I think that is a stupidly restrictive policy – I don’t care if you’re having a drink on my bus! The only person you’re harming is you! If you were going to get loaded and cause trouble, you’d be drunk before you got on..) and I realised how this was going to go.
You can’t smoke inside so there’s a large community of smokers who hang out around buildings. They’re in place. It’s a new social network, you know. The pavements around pubs are much chattier than the tables inside and the smoking areas outside offices (well-established by now) are where departments connect in a way they don’t when they’re on different floors.
Soon the crowd outside stations will be joined by those who are having to finish their drink before they go inside. The smokers and the drinkers will both have outcast mentalities and points upon which to bond ("Politicians, eh? Cuh, what’ll they ban next?") so they’ll be chatting away to each other quite happily. It’ll be a buzzy place, much more sociable than the inside of the station.
This will be fine when the drinking ban starts, in June, but as the year draws on there will be a distinct sense of discomfort which the smokers are used to but the drinkers are not. As there are small awnings on some office buildings to keep smokers from the worst of the weather, so small shelters will probably start popping up around stations for the drinkers.
Some enterprising soul, seeing a large, untapped, captive market will no doubt move in on these shelters and start selling cans, bottles and cigarettes. This will obviously be illegal to start with but after a while there will probably be some sort of regulation (if only so they can be taxed!) and they’ll be somewhat more legit. Maybe the shelters will be built to include a stand for the vendor of such things.
Eventually, the shelter, the stall, the smokers, the drinkers… it will all be so settled and stationary that the shelter may as well become a building.
I suggest a name for such a building. A "pub".