News From Nowhere doesn't normally do book reviews, preferring to use its precious column inches to concentrate on deep analysis of major political and economic trends whilst pondering the mysteries of Yorkshire Pudding making and competitive knot-tying. However, just occasionally a book comes along which demands recognition: the perfect storm of a book which brings together one of my favourite writers writing about one of my favourite subjects. Such a book is "Shakespeare's Local" by Pete Brown (Pan/Macmillan 2012). It is an entire book about a single pub - The George in Southwark. It is a pub I know well, a pub I used to take groups of foreign visitors to back in the 1970s, a pub that has always been my preferred spot to keel over and drop dead aged 110 whilst draining my fourth pint. But to say it is an entire book about a single pub is to sell it short - it is a book about history, about literature, about theatre, about philosophy, about transport, about almost any subject that is worthy of being written about. If you do nothing more for yourself in 2015, you could do worse than ordering a copy and taking yourself off to your nearest pub or bar and ordering a decent beer and settling down to read it.
By one of those strange chances that make life more interesting than stamp collecting, I was scanning some of my old medium format negatives the other day when I came across a picture of the George I must have taken in the early 1980s. By that time we had moved from London to return to our native Yorkshire but I would always seek out an excuse to return to the capital to revisit my spiritual home. On this occasion I believe I had brought a group of students down to a Health and Safety exhibition and I realised that with a minor six mile detour I could manage to pop into the George for a quick one.
The George is still going strong - well into its sixth century (or its third depending on your interpretation of the paradox of Trigger's Broom - see Chapter 2). So why not really treat yourself: buy a copy of the book, jump on a plane or a train to London, nip down to Borough High Street and grab yourself a comfy table in the George, a pint of beer and start to read.