Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
I found this book for a couple of pounds in The Works (ssh, don't tell the author), and I bought it on impulse because I know a couple of places mentioned in the blurb on the back.
In "The Longest Crawl," Ian Marchant decides to go on a pub crawl for the length of Britain. And I don't just mean Land's End to John O' Groats, no, that's for amateurs, I mean from the Scilly Isles to Unst in the Shetlands. He is inspired by G.K. Chesterton's poem "The Rolling English Road" and the idea that the traveller's geography of the UK is inextricably tied to our heritage as a drinking nation. He takes his friend, Perry, along with him as travelling companion for his month of driving, alcohol and hangovers.
I particularly liked the couple of bits about places I know, which intersected with some of my interests, and, as he travels the length of the UK, chances are that he might also write about somewhere you know and love. In Plymouth he and Perry go to Prete's ice cream bar, where they are dumbfounded by a Robert Lenkiewicz mural on the wall. I love Lenkiewicz's work, although I'm ashamed to say I have never been in Prete's, and I could easily highjack this post writing about him (how I saw Lenkiewicz in Plymouth a couple of times but was too intimidated to speak to him; how the dilapidated state of his huge outdoor mural on the Barbican saddens me; how I'd love to see The Riddle Mural at Port Eliot; how if I get rich I would like to own one of his paintings but it will need to be in a room my husband doesn't often go in because he's not keen on his work
In Marchant's book you learn quite a lot about the author himself, as well as learning a lot about the processes of making alcohol (Plymouth Gin, somerset cider, beer). He is very self-deprecating and plays on the pub-bore side of his personality (without being boring): while his friend Perry flirts with cute barmaids and tour guides, he is the one asking technical questions about brewing and fermenting. He is funny and frequently quite politically incorrect (with, I think, no malice), and he is very thoughtful along the way about the UK's historically fraught relationship with the demon drink
He also has a nice line in snoring similes ("like a donkey with emphysema" "like a dinosaur gargling wallpaper past"). But it's hard to beat the simplicity of my Dad telling my Mum that she snores like "an enraged warthog" (rude), or Mark telling me on various nights of the same cold that I made sounds in my sleep like "a startled baby otter" or, my personal favourite, a "disconsolate elk".
This was an interesting and entertaining book. I'm thinking of getting one of Ian Marchant's earlier books "Parallel Lines," about our railways, as a present for my father who is a bit of a train fanatic. Ssh, don't tell my Dad.