Thank goodness for Nathaniel Newnham-Davis and his eye for detail.
An early food writer — the Jay Rayner of his day — ‘The Colonel’ wrote reviews for the Pall Mall Gazette as well as several books such as Where And How to Dine in London.
We are especially grateful to him for having taken the time and space to write at length about one of London’s 19th century ‘lager beer’ saloons. He described what was seen on entering, the light, the clientèle, the glassware, the food, the pictures on the walls, the floorboards, seating, taxidermy, staff, proprietor, food, and, most importantly, the beer itself.
Many other such establishments were beneath the attention of writers and so might as well never have existed for all that we can find out about them beyond their street address and the date on which their owners went bankrupt. (They always went bankrupt.)
It was much the same in trying to find out about pubs from the 1970s while working on Brew Britannia, Becky’s Dive Bar being an exception as it was too bizarre not to write about.
If you’re stuck for an idea ahead of ‘going long’ on Saturday (30 August), why not look long and hard at a pub or bar of your acquaintance — especially if it doesn’t get much attention — and write an excessively detailed description of it?
Zoom in. Get out your microscope. Examine its pores.
Future historians will thank you.