A Good Book? I'll Drink to That! Book of the Week THE ROUGH PUB GUIDE by Paul Moody & Robin Turner ****

Article excerpt

Byline: by Lorne Jackson

The subtitle of this book is simple. It is, we're told, "A Celebration Of The Great British Boozer."

There's an excellent reason to buy this book - and it has nothing to do with the quaint old pastime of reading.

Nope, why bother reading The Rough Pub Guide when it also doubles as a perfectly serviceable beer mat?

And not only because of its size and shape. The front and back covers exhibit that sandpapery quality that is an integral part of all the best beer mats, as it helps soak up any residual ale.

David Copperfield and Vanity Fair may have had more complex plots and psychologically sophisticated characters, but when it comes to balancing a pint of Guinness on a book, nothing beats The Rough Pub Guide.

However, if you happen to enjoy readingm this book still has something to offer, especially if you like reading about pubs with no airs and graces.

The Rough Pub Guide provides a countdown of the 50 most unforgettable drinking establishments in the UK.

It's 50 per cent guide book; 50 per cent paean to a vanishing Britain.

In this tome of tippling, you won't find any of those despicablegastropubs and theme bars that are spreading faster and wider than Fern Britton, minus her gastric belt.

Instead, these are salt of the earth - plus spit of the sawdust - boozers. And plenty of them are in the Midlands.

Such as The British Oak in Gooch Street, Birmingham.

Super swanky it is not. The description in the book tells the sorry saga of the day the authors visited. They write "The side window is shattered.

An NHS wheelchair gathers dust beneath a Birmingham City FC mirror.

"On the pool table, a cat lounges sleepily, daring anyone to disturb it."

The authors don't appear to ingratiate themselves with the pub management, either. …