|Shakespeare's Lo-cal, the perfect diet guide this Christmas|
This book is about 600 years of history of The George, currently a Greene King managed house just off Borough High Street and the area of London surrounding it. From the very first chapter Pete Brown manages to trap your interest and you know that until the final page you will be engrossed. To start with he paints the imagery of time travel with such conviction that when you get to one of the notes about blowing the budget on the CGI for that scene you almost believe him. The description on the Shard going up so quickly that it takes your eye out is wonderful, I've always considered the thing to be akin to Sauron's Tower in the Lord of the Rings. Every time I look at it I expect to see a blazing eye in right at the top!
I think what Pete does best, is capture the imagination so that you can see things happening very realistically in your mind. Describing Borough High Street through the years, the people, the buildings, the businesses, even from two or three hundred years ago, you get the sense that Pete might have been around during those days, so vivid is the description.
I read pretty much the whole book on the bus, travelling to and from work each day and so each time I stopped at Maria's Cafe in Borough Market for my artery hardening Bacon Roll on the way in, I took a moment to look around. You can tell the market has changed over the years but you still get a sense of grandeur mixed with working class chic when you look at the buildings, it's hard not to take it for granted when you're trying to elbow your way through the crowds of grazing tourists during the day. Pete managed to make me stop and take a look with every chapter in the book, I cannot help but imagine Borough High Street evolving over the years when I get off the bus now.
The point is made very early on that Pete can't prove that Shakespeare ever actually drank in The George, but then you can't prove he didn't either! Once you read that, you'll do either of two things, 1) Go and try and get a refund because what a swindle! Or, 2) Keep reading and discover some of the best described history about London I have ever had the fortune to read.
One of the things I really like about Pete's writing is that the way he describes things. It's like visiting a mate in a town or city you don't live in or know very well and having them be your guide around all the best places to drink and visit.
I can heartily recommend Shakespeare's Local as a good Crimbo prezzie this year for any of your friends or family that are interested in beer & history.
You can buy it at all the usual places, Amazon are currently doing it for £10.70 (Hardcover) and £7.47 (Kindle edition). Go! Buy!