From The Birmingham Mail (in the English Midlands):
THE conversion of a derelict inner-city pub into a mosque, carried out without planning permission, has been given the green light by councillors.
The Planning Committee was furious that owners of the former Bull’s Head pub in Birchfield Road, Handsworth, had carried out the building work and extensions before securing their approval.
But they decided that the mosque was better than a boarded-up pub and reluctantly agreed to allow it.
I’ve seen derelict shops, derelict churches, and much else in Britain, but never a derelict pub. I wonder why the serving of alcohol ceased to be profitable on Birchfield Road.
Chesterton opens his novella The Flying Inn with a Muslim temperance advocate claiming that English pubs were not built to sell “alcoholic Christian drink” but “non-alcoholic Islamic drink”, which is why they all have Muslim names: The Bull, he explains, is an abbreviation of the Bulbul, as in the delightful Middle Eastern songbird. We’re getting there.
[UPDATE: The Conservative Cabbie writes to tell me that apparently 27 pubs close every day. The national smoking ban and whatnot have put a British institution in terminal decline. Last time I was in the Midlands, I found myself stepping over 14-year old slatterns face down in pools of vomit outside the local supermarket, so maybe nobody needs to go to the pub anymore.]