Book Review: The Sadness Of The King George

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?

18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sadness Of The King George

      1. One fact question. In the book the bar staff are tipped and offered a pint for themself. I never see this and when we have offered a tip or a pint we are looked at like we have horns. Is tipping a localized thing common in Birmingham? Great fun this book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good question! To be honest when I lived in Brum the phrase “have one for yourself “ was common place and was usually a couple of quid at the end of a round or the barman would say “I’ll have a half or short or pint” depending on what pub.
        Maybe it’s a localised thing but I thought most areas do it…
        It’s a good question 👏👏 it’s so true to life of edge of town centre or estate pubs of that era 😃 that’s why I love them!!

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  1. SOLD ! to the man with too much time on his hands at the moment. Actually, I have a book to read at the moment (something about Uruguayan goalkeepers that Duncan recommended) so may get to this one on 2022 as am a slow reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds good. Love your line “…..who are all regulars, but don’t appear to actually like each other very much.” That rings very true.

    The one Martin mentions is superb. It is Football in Sun and Shadow: An Emotional History of World Cup Football by Eduardo Galeano, a brilliant Uruguayan writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book is typical of many pubs I’ve been in and whilst some of the language is uncomfortable it is arguably a fact of life in some pubs! I will check this book out as always been a fan of Uruguayan football since Danny Begara

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  4. “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.”

    Totally agree.

    “and for us Brummies there are loads of reference points throughout.”

    Kind of exciting when you read something that you can relate to. 🙂

    “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”

    Nicely put.

    “and it is a fact of #publife that barflies can be very far removed from the Twiterrati who shout very loudly.”

    LOL

    “For some people, going to a pub and feeling a sense of belonging is hugely therapeutic and long may that continue.”

    Again, totally agree.

    “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.”

    They say the best writing is where you draw from experience.

    “The Sadness of The King George captures the moment when the easy idealism of youth collides with the hard realities of suburbia.”

    True that, in any era!

    “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.”

    Nicely done during this frustrating interlude.

    Cheers

    PS – I can get it over in Canada on Kindle in mid-Feb. Just added it to my Wish List. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Keeping well, all things considered.

        I won’t bore you with the details (much!) but never a dull moment with my darling wife. 🙂

        We are closing down the lunch truck in a few months; with the complete lack of catering it’s not viable. But… we both received emails from our old boss for the mining construction camp where we worked 8 or 9 years ago. They’re going back in for some exploration and he was wondering if we’d be interested! Have a conference call later this week that may see us working up north this summer, which is perfect for us! Fingers crossed.

        Ok, enough for now. 😉

        Hope you’re keeping well as well. 🙂

        Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham? You could get lynched 😉 . My better half worked in Boldmere at one time and someone had gone round painting out the Brum coat of arms on the street signs.

    Sounds like a decent book, will wander off to Amazon, but it might be a while before I read it: work finds me busy, if not commuting!

    As to the “one for yourself”, fairly common around Walsall, but only in the type of pubs the book refers to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spot on! Definitely a Brummie/Black Country saying although only really at locals’ boozers…yes, the natives of SC aren’t too keen on being classed as Brummies so I always do!!
      Good to see you are working and keeping healthy in these times pal.
      The blog will return when some pubs actually open again…

      Like

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