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Proper pubs

A bit of a deviation today: I'm having a nostalgia moment, inspired by watching the Euro 2012 match in my local last night. 

I used to write another blog, called Save the Boozer, a paean to the sorts of old-school pubs you rarely see these days, thanks to rampant gastro-isation, residential development or bland homogenisation by chains. My local is pretty much the only un-mucked about-with pub in the area, and its shabby, lived-in and determinedly un-hip interior, dotted with flashes of faded grandeur in the form of lavish antique wall and floor tiling and etched glass, reminded me how much I love the aesthetic of a grimy old boozer. So I dug out some Save the Boozer shots for old-time's sake...

The interiors of such places are so warm, scuffed and functional that all you can do is do what you're meant to do in a pub: relax, chat to random people and have one too many. And the best ones have juke boxes, un-fancy crisps behind the bar and, if you're very lucky, a photo of the Queen Mum pulling a pint. 

There's a lot tied up with community, too: the posher the pub decor, the more homogenised the clientele. But this evening, we were a gloriously varied bunch, from my postman, to a group of dolled up twenty-something girls, the local five-a-side team, and to chat goals with a tipsy pensioner at the bar... 

If you, too, like plain, every-day pubs – you'll probably enjoy The Search for the Perfect Pub: looking for the Moon Under Water, a brilliantly written road-trip to track down the mythical George Orwell ideal (in which, due to Save the Boozer, I am even quoted!). And also, should you happen to be Stateside, New York City's Best Dive Bars is also a fantastic book. It has since been updated heavily, so I can't vouch for the new version, but I used this one, written by the eminently amusing Wendy Mitchell, as my entertainment guide when I was last in the city.

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