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11 September, 2019 11:33:32 AM

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London literary pub: New attraction for tourists

Independent Online/ AP
London literary pub: New attraction for tourists
The writers launched the tour in 2012 to take advantage of the London Olympics, but the group failed to get it started in time. (Photo: AP)

A bartender asks Gavin Smith whether he fancies a citrus pale ale or Kolsch-style lager at the Newman Arms — a London pub dating back to 1730. The 47-year-old Liphook, England, resident makes his choice, then walks to a spot where writer George Orwell reportedly drank his favorite ales.

Orwell based the “Proles” pub in his dystopian novel, “1984,” after the Newman Arms.

He also featured it again in his novel, “Keep the Aspidistra Flying.” Sitting at the Orwell table, Smith closes his eyes and attempts to absorb any energy left behind by his favorite scribe. “I want to take in all that I can,” Smith said.

As soon as Smith finishes his drink, he rejoins a playful and IPA-fueled tour unlocking similar stories linked to London locales where renowned novelists and poets drank and debated literature.

″The London Literary Pub Crawl ,” a popular tour that takes tourists to the favorite hangouts of legendary writers, allows literature fans to stand at the site where “A Clockwork Orange” author Anthony Burgess and his wife watched a gang destroy the Duke of York pub and stroll the streets as Virginia Woolf while she battled her demons.

Participants will hear stories how poet Dylan Thomas proposed to his wife at one pub and T.S. Elliot threw back some drinks in another. They also have a chance to drink where a depressed Karl Marx grabbed a beer while in exile before getting started in his masterpiece in capitalism criticism, “Das Kapital.” Workers of the world... have a pint.

Organised by English writers and actors, the three-hour tour takes attendees through London’s Fitzrovia district and ends in Westminster’s Soho area, which includes stops by the offices of Sir Paul McCartney and the recording company of Amy Winehouse.

Sometimes actors dressed as Woolf or Charles Dickens lead attendees. Other times, participants get lucky and get escorted by Nick Hennegan — a gifted and funny writer who has crafted modern Shakespeare adaptations. His most recent one reinterprets “Romeo and Juliet” using hip hop and families of dueling football (soccer) clubs.

The writers launched the tour in 2012 to take advantage of the London Olympics, but the group failed to get it started in time. Still, Hennegan said once the organizers got the Literary Pub Crawl going, they immediately saw sold-out tours. “We don’t use a touring company or anything like that,” said Hennegan, who also hosts a London literary podcast. “We’re just writers and actors with other day jobs.”

Using a tablet and his memory, Hennegan recently ushered a group that included Smith, myself and a dozen of others starting at The Wheatsheaf, a traditional pub once patronized by Orwell, Burgess and Thomas. He started with an overview of the popular pubs while tourists listened and drank a Mediterranean beer called Estrella Damm or a Hop House 13, a double-hopped lager made with Irish barley.

From there, he took the group to the Samuel Smith Brewery-owned Fitzroy Tavern and eventually to The French House, a watering hole where French General Charles de Gaulle gave a passionate speech to exiles while Nazi Germany occupied France.

BK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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