One side effect of having pneumonia is that it gives you time to catch up with all the things you should have done before. Like review books you received before Christmas. So, in a rare piece of “proper” blogging, I shall do just that.
The Rough Pub Guide would appear, at first glance, to be yet another contender in the seemingly lucrative pub guide market. However, on further inspection, its aspirations seem to lie elsewhere. It’s less of a guidebook, more of a homage to the traditional, eccentric British boozer. Yes, there are entries detailing pubs, but there are also asides on pub institutions such as darts and the jukebox. And that’s where, if there are any faults, they lie.
On perusing the guide, you will soon ascertain that it is a book of humour rather than a replacement for the Good Beer Guide. Fine. But surely the title is misleading? Because it’s called the “Rough Pub Guide”, which is very odd. “Rough” to me means, er, rough. As in dodgy, run-down pubs with a potential for violence. Whilst what they actually mean is “traditional” or “quirky.”
The selections themselves seem a bit random. A look at my stomping ground of Manchester reveals two contrasting entries. The Britons Protection-an historical gem to be found in any decent guide, so fair enough. But the Temple of Convenience? It’s not even a pub. It’s a bar that used to be an underground toilet. It certainly ticks the “quirky” box, but, with all of Manchester to go out, I wonder how much research actually went into this book.
Having said all that, the Rough Pub Guide is an entertaining read. Just don’t take it at face value.