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In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Blick, a detective who had booked rooms at "Sceptre Inn", which belonged to Grimsdale, was cheerful after reaching an important conclusion.

Arrived at this conclusion, Blick felt somewhat cheerful. He refilled and lighted his pipe, put his hands in his pockets, and lounged out of his sitting-room, across the hall, and into the bar-parlour. This was years before the imposition of those rigorous licensing restrictions which now prevent the free-born Englishman from taking his ease in his inn whenever he feels so disposed, and though it was only five o’clock in the afternoon the cosy bar-parlour contained several customers—village idlers who were discussing the inquest and the tragedy that had given rise to it. All and each already knew Blick as the great London detective who had come there to find out who had killed poor young Master Guy, and to hang that same varmint when found, and they stared at Blick’s light hair, blue eyes, chubby countenance, and smart town clothes as if wondering how such a youthful-looking cherub could possibly possess the faculties of a ferret and the persistency of a foxhound. But Blick, beyond giving them a friendly nod, paid no attention to these patriarchs and wiseacres—he fully intended to cultivate their acquaintance at some future time, but just then he wanted a word or two with Grimsdale.

I know the literal meaning of this bolded statement, but I can't get its connection to the context?

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Quoting Wikipedia

After the outbreak of World War I the Defence of the Realm Act was passed by Parliament in 1914. One section of the Act concerned the hours pubs could sell alcohol, as it was believed that alcohol consumption would interfere with the war effort. It restricted opening hours for licensed premises to luncheon (12:00 to 14:40) and supper (18:30 to 22:30).

So the story is set pre-War and customers are drinking at five o’clock in the afternoon, something that would no longer be legal at the date of publication (a restriction of an Englishman's rights, disapproved by the author).

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    In more recent times in the UK last orders were 11pm. Bars would take last orders at 11pm, ringing a bell and calling "last orders" to give everyone a chance to get their last drinks bought by 11pm. The pub is then required to remain open for at least another 20 minutes to allow drinking up time, but may remain open for longer (but drinks cannot be sold). Nowadays this law is still the default but pubs can apply for a licence to remain open for longer. – user12624 Apr 9 at 10:13
  • I wouldn't conclude the author disapproved, but the character being voiced here does. – user_1818839 Apr 9 at 16:27
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    hey look, it's coronavirus in 1914 – user253751 Apr 9 at 17:33

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