OK…so the pubs are shut and my blog has virtually gone to sleep so what can I write about?
I know, what about a book that is as true to life as you could imagine about a edge of town centre boozer commonly known as an ‘old man’s pub.’
It’s the sort of pub that anyone who reads this blog can relate to, as it is full of characters, sells cask ale, has lots of ultimately sad characters and is a place of solace for many.
It’s a nice contrast as Sutton Coldfield is regarded as a well to do area in Brum, but this pub clearly hasn’t heard that it is supposed to be gastro!
During the lockdown it has been argued by many scribes – better than I – that pubs are absolutely essential to the mental wellbeing of a large proportion of society.
This book rams that fact home with characters such as Arthur Guinness, The Busman, Kronenbourg Kev, Tony, Home Brew and Cedric who are all regulars, but don’t appear to actually like each other very much.
Ostensibly, set in 2005, our intrepid hero works in the bar at the King George in Sutton Coldfield and for us Brummies there are loads of reference points throughout.
He is in a dead end relationship and the book is a nice juxtaposition of life before the King George and life at the King George, with the regulars omnipresent in the background.
It’s the sort of book you can’t put down and although some of the regulars’ language is, at times, uncomfortable and even controversial in 2020, they receive their just desserts and it is a fact of #publife that barflies can be very far removed from the Twiterrati who shout very loudly.
I don’t want to give too much more away, as I don’t want to ruin the plot, but honestly, anyone of you who has ever been into a pub (that isn’t gastro), will warm to this tale of afternoon drinking, late night drinking and the fact that pubs are a safe haven for many people on the fringes of society.
This is often overlooked but so true; For some people, going to a pub and feeling a sense of belonging is hugely therapeutic and long may that continue.
Anyway, the author is Shaun Hand and he worked in pubs himself so, whilst this is fictional, I suspect there may be some personal memories tucked away in here.
The publisher is Bad Press Ink and they describe it as;
“You know it. Your old local. Back in the day. The stink of beer and piss, sticky carpets, nicotine stains on the ceiling, soggy bar towels, and the chance of a punch-up on a Saturday night – or anytime for that matter. And in amongst it all an awkward 20-year-old, trapped behind the bar, with nothing to do but pull pints and wait for the next break. Until he finds Amy. And life. And an escape – if he dares.”
“A comedic, coming-of-age novel is set in a Birmingham pub. Funny, poignant and unflinchingly honest, The Sadness of The King George captures the moment when the easy idealism of youth collides with the hard realities of suburbia.”
Whilst I desperately want pubs to reopen I am delighted to promote books that portray the backstreet/edge of town/estate boozer in its true light.
They’ve also produced beermats too to go alongside the book – what could be better?