One of the real pleasures of the Christmas period, I’m sure many would agree, is the chance to sneak off to the pub for a pint or two at certain tactically determined moments.

Not necessarily to go on a binge, you understand; just to nab a brief respite from the rigours of Christmas shopping or family gatherings. And I find it is all that makes a trip to the sales even remotely bearable. A few stolen moments in a cosy pub with a ridiculously named seasonal ale while the rest of the world is descending into unbridled savagery in order to get the pick of the deals at M&S is always a civilised highlight for me.

But the question of how long it will continue to be so looms larger every year.

Just last week we reported on the imminent demise of yet another of Wycombe’s pubs – this time it is The Gordon Arms which could be turned into flats. The same permission has been granted for the Disraeli Arms on the London Road, while the Downley Donkey made way for a supermarket a few month ago.

The Nags Head is set to be a hotel, while Scorpios in Crendon Street is also looking likely to become housing of some sort. And this is just in the Wycombe vicinity – the same thing is happening all over the place.

Now admittedly not all of these pubs were, in their final days, places that appealed to everyone (to put it mildly in some cases). But the growing trend of the last few years – to replace our watering holes with shops or flats – is a pretty depressing one.

The argument to do this makes perfect economic sense and is certainly pragmatic. After all, if people aren’t using pubs, then what’s the point of leaving a building derelict? Especially when the area is crying out for more homes to be built, as per the district’s local plan.

And it is also true that lots of these pubs have seen better days and are struggling to draw people in. Many of them need a good lick of paint and a decent air freshener, frankly.

Of course, money is another factor. Drinking at the pub is a costly business, even if you only stop for one or two. It is no wonder that people need to think twice about it these days. There are still glimmers of hope, of course – pubs with a buzz to them are more noticeable than ever when you wander through their doors now, because of all those that are either limping along or shut up entirely. The Bootlegger, The Belle Vue and the Hobgoblin are all among those still successfully flying the flag in or near Wycombe’s town centre – depending on the kind of pub you want to spend some time in, at least. It may not be the 86 or so the town centre had listed in 1875, but it’s better than nothing. Still, we are losing so many and we won’t be getting them back. It seems a depressing thought that in ten or 20 years from now our festive trip to the pub could well have been totally replaced by stopping in after taking advantage of a three for a fiver offer from the supermarket.

And what escape will there be then, from that baying mob of depraved deal-seekers, beating each other senseless all in the name of a cheap pair of trousers?