Wednesday 30 July 2008

The frightfully good pub guide

Over the years, I’ve dipped into the Good Pub Guide in bookshops or in pubs, but I’ve never actually owned a copy since the first edition from 1983. However, I’ve just acquired a recent edition via eBay. A more detailed read confirmed my impression that it very much majors on a certain type of independently-run, rural, food-oriented establishment. It’s very much “nice pubs for middle-class people”. There’s the odd example of a more down-to-earth style of pub thrown in, but they’re in a small minority. Rather more feature in the “Lucky Dip” readers’ recommendations section, including Stockport favourites such as the Armoury and Blossoms, but as many of these have not actually been inspected by anyone you have to take them with a pinch of salt. And even the Arden Arms, which you might have thought ticked enough boxes to merit a full entry, is just a Lucky Dip too.

To me, a good pub has to be somewhere that actually functions as a pub, and is a social centre, not just an eating house. Some of the Good Pub Guide entries qualify, but all too many don’t. While it undoubtedly meets a demand, and is very popular, I can’t see that I will be making it a regular purchase. And to make it worse, the intolerant, snooty sods were advocating the smoking ban too – yet more proof of their failure to give any recognition to working-class pubs.

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