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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

A Life In Pubs

For centuries British social life has revolved around a place we call the Public House. I recently joined a group on Facebook called London Pubs (https://www.facebook.com/groups/mylondonpubs). It's an excellent resource with recommendations for pubs in London and a good balance of memory inducing stories and photos.


It's made me realise how this important part of British culture has had a profound effect on my life. I'm not talking about having a pint in every pub, although I may have supped a few beers in welcoming establishments in my time. I'm not even talking about running a bar. I've done that too. I'm focused more on major events in my life that happened to be in a pub. As will become clear, one person seems to be involved in all of them. It's probably because, before his retirement, he was arguably the best publican in London.


I've also left my mark on a few establishments in my time. There's a great pub in the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain called the Sherlock Holmes (https://www.gulfhotelbahrain.com/sherlock-holmes). It was my go to place to watch the rugby, play pool or darts, and eat some excellent food that always brought back memories of home. I left my mark when I finally departed Bahrain. I know for a long time afterwards there was a Saracens flag on the wall in what was christened Rugby Corner. There was also a mannequin behind the bar. Seeing it adorned with a fez and a Watford Football Club scarf still brings a smile to my face. It's been a few years since my last visit, but in my mind it's still there.


Saracens flag and Maximilian Sam in the rugby corner
Max's Rugby Corner in the Sherlock Holmes

Mannequin with a Watford FC scarf and a fez behind the bar
A typical Watford fan in the Sherlock Holmes

This blog isn't about that though. It's actually the starting point of how I became an author. There's no way he could have known at the time, but a birthday party in his pub planted the seed.


The pub in question was my Dad's regular when he worked in London. It's still there, so if you're in the area, pop into the Prince Regent on Marylebone High Street (https://www.theprinceregentw1.co.uk). It's where my story started. The landlord, who had such a profound effect on my life, was the best in London. Michael Tierney was well known and loved by everyone. When my Dad walked in the day after I'd been born, Michael handed over my first teddy bear. I was, clearly, always going to love pubs.


The Prince Regent pub exterior
The Prince Regent on Marylebone High Street

We used to go in regularly for food. The waiter, Harry, was amazing, always asking "what would sir like this evening?" I became addicted to prawn cocktail, much to the amusement of visiting American tourists who couldn't believe they were seeing a young child order food from an upside down menu pretending to be grown up.


For my fifth birthday, Michael had a surprise. Did he know he'd be lighting the fire to me becoming an author? Of course not, but it's a lovely thought. He had booked a children's author for my party. Violet Philpott gave a puppet show based on the characters in her book. I fell in love with Bandicoot And His Friends on the spot. I still have the signed copy she gave me that day. Michael had done something amazing. The kids had a great birthday party whilst the parents could relax and have a drink.


Cover of Bandicoot and his Friends by Violet Philpott
The book that started the journey

Michael remained a family friend through birthday parties at The Battleaxes in Radlett to hosting Mum's 40th birthday party with a few surprise celebrity guests. When he left the Prince Regent he reopened the Windsor Castle in Crawford Place. More important memories were on the way. It led to me driving a transit van filled with flowers into London before walking them through a packed Friday night bar to store them in the pub cellar. We had to, as my brother was having his wedding reception there the next day. Another red letter day in my life and Michael was a huge part of it. The Windsor Castle had a Thai restaurant upstairs. It was the perfect venue for a wonderful day. The wedding reception became even better as we mingled with regulars in the bar downstairs. One of the great days.


The Windsor Castle pub exterior
The Windsor Castle in Crawford Place

Blue plaque announcing the opening of the Windsor Castle by Wendy Richard
The Windsor Castle had it's share of famous patrons

Seeing so many of the pubs I've visited on the London Pubs facebook page, ranging from Borough Market to South Norwood, from Fulham to Shepherd's Bush, and others beyond has brought back a lot of special memories. Even the ones with odd names such as the Elusive Camel in Victoria still raise a smile.


As we speak, the glue that holds British society together is losing its grip as pubs close at a rapid rate. A pub isn't just about having a pint. It's about the memories and tapestry of life. They, sometimes, even give the chance for a rugby-mad middle-aged Englishman to slide across the floor on his knees cheering as Johnny Wilkinson kicked THAT drop goal.


Pubs are about memories, friendship, and community. Long may they survive.


There's A Lot Going On


Those who follow our social media accounts will have seen it's been a busy couple of weeks. So much so we nearly forgot to celebrate a very important birthday. It's A Stray Dog's Life turned 2 on 28 February (we'd say the last day of February, but it's a leap year!). Thank you to everyone who has bought the book, left reviews, and voted for it to win awards. It's been an amazing and very emotional journey.


Happy Birthday It's A Stray Dog's Life
Happy 2nd Birthday

We were also invited back to take part in Daisy Lane Publishing's Inspire Series. It's a great video podcast with some very smart people. You can see the podcast by clicking the link below.


There's a lot more coming in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels. Saying that, there are a few things going on in life away from writing. It may mean we go a little quiet in a few weeks time for a period. Don't worry. We'll be back and it will be with good news.


TTFN


MaxS and The Stray Army


PS. Don't forget you can still buy all the books and some merchandise from the website. There's also some very cool downloads of the dogs available too. Just click the tabs at the top of the page.

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