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The longest Crawl: interview with author

After reading The longest crawl, I couldn’t resist. I write to Ian Marchant, the author, an email. From that email a sort of mail-interview born out. If you don’t know that faboulous book, take a bit of time to read here.
Ian is quite an eclectic person, he knows almost everyting around beer. The longest crawl is perfet to discover United Kingdom at 360°. Pub, cider, gin, whisky: everything is investigated on the field. You learn a lot from the pages of that tour of UK’s pubs. He writes of drinking and english society, alcohol control, meritocracy, drugs and so on.

So, ladies and gentlements, Ian Marchant:

Who should read “The Longest Crawl” (in Italian Pub, Islands, Encounters)?

Alcohol is one of the ways the British define themselves. Because our cuisine has been cruelly over-looked, drinking makes a great way into British regional  products; English beer and cider, London and Plymouth gin, Scottish whisky, Welsh everything (I’m biased; I live in Wales!). And they are just as important to our history and landscape as castles and great country houses. So anyone who is interested in these strange islands should read the book, and raise a glass.

Pubs, beer, cider, gin, whisky… Is it really possible to discover UK through a glass?

Yes. But still the defining drink of Britain is tea, and if you are coming here, you should drink some. Not drinking tea would be like going to Rome and not drinking proper coffee. And as much as the British love travelling abroad, the one thing we can’t stand is the tea. So let me give you a very simple method, using a teabag. One teabag per mug… pour on BOILING water (one degree less than 100, and all is lost) Leave for three minutes, then take out teabag, and add milk so that your tea is the colour of polished oak. Then, for the full British experience, add one sugar. Yum!

Beer, gastropub, women: what’s the wrong word in the list? If there’s any.

Oh, there are no wrong words there at all. I like them all. But one of the problems of very old-fashioned pubs is that you don’t find many women there. So the newer ‘gastro-pubs’, which serve excellent food, top beer, and great whisky are often more comfortable for women. A gin and tonic with ice and lemon is the classic ‘ladies drink’; though more and more women are drinking real ale these days.

Where did you learn what you write in  “The Longest Crawl”? At a pub quiz? (You must read the book to understand that question)

Well, at pub quizzes, yes, but also at my Father’s knee; he had a pub, and took me for my first drink. And years of experience.

I adored your book passage about vegetarians. Which pub would you suggest to one of them? Just in case he (or she) will cook for you some meat. (Again, you must read the book to understand that question, sorry)

Oh, I shouldn’t be so cruel about vegetarians. It’s not their fault. Most gastropubs will have a vegetarian choice on the menu, which i’m told are usually very good. wouldn’t know myself…

The Old Forge is on sale, even Italian newspapers gave the news. After all your pub oriented travel, which is your reaction?

A great pub is due to great landlords. You need to be a really fabulous landlord to run The Old Forge, which is the most difficult to get to pub in Britain. There are no roads into the Knoydart peninsula. You can either walk twenty miles over bleak mountains, or you can take the boat from Mallaig, which can be rough and cold, that far north. But when you get to the Old Forge, it’s well worth it, and the current landlords have done really well to make it a success. I wish whoever takes it over lots of luck…. they’ll need it!
My photographer friend Perry Venus, who comes with me on my trips, used to own and run an antiques shop called ‘The Old Forge.’ Certainly it was full of old forgeries…. I’m not sure if this joke plays in translation…

Thanks Ian, you made me double happy with your answers.

Thank you for being so lovely, Rossella. You’ve made an old man very happy…

Strange idea of “old” up there on the north 🙂

For the Italian version click here.


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