Acceptable ageism.

I was searching for a decent roast dinner in London on Sunday, and almost settled on a great pub called The Spaniards Inn just north of the Heath (I learnt of this one courtesy of Ebert). The only problem? I remembered my visit just over a year ago for lunch one day, when I was refused a glass of red to go with my steak on the grounds that I was under 21.

Yes, you read right. I was 19, could prove it, and therefore could legally be served a glass of alcohol according to the law of the land. But I was refused service regardless due to their special, unexplained policy. One would think it had to do with keeping out rowdy youths, but this place is a stone’s throw from Bishops Avenue, for Christ’s sake – a street better known as Billionaire’s Row.

But screw their logic. Regardless of the reason, I’m staggered that whatever combination of related words I search on Google, nothing comes up concerning age discrimination and the legality of such policies in the UK. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to learn this practice is perfectly legal. But what I want to know is why we tolerate it. We would be appalled if a pub was allowed to make its own special rule which excluded women or black people or gay people. Oh, wait – I forget the latter happened. But at least it was probably illegal under the Equalities Act. There are plenty of legal provisions to protect people against discrimination on the basis of race, sex and sexuality (as long as the institution in question isn’t religious). But age? It seemingly goes unnoticed.

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