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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Beer writer in 'self-indulgent post' shocker.

In just over 24 hours I turn 40, and I'll no longer be able to describe myself as a 'young writer' in any respect.

Never mind.

I got two good books out during my thirties, and completed a life-changing sea voyage that will be released as my third book, on the shelves before I hit 41. Maybe that will be the one that allows me to give up the day job and write full time. I doubt it, but hope is what drags a writer back to the keyboard day after day, for eighteen months, or two years, or four, or ten.

I got hit by the brainwave to write Man Walks into a Pub (though it didn't have the cool title then - my publishers always come up with better titles than me) on 11th September 1998, two months almost to the day after my thirtieth birthday. This means my entire fourth decade - 25% of my life so far - has been devoted single-mindedly to the pursuit of trying to write about beer in a way that can entertain those who are already into it, but more importantly, to put beer in its rightful place in a broader social context, and get those who don't currently read about beer to appreciate it more.

I guess I've had some success. I've sold maybe 30,000 books, between the two titles. I've got this blog, a few stuttering TV appearances, and some magazine features. Beer has become my life, and has given me a whole cast of new friends who I am so grateful to have met, and who I feel confident I'll be drinking with for the rest of my days. I've been around the world twice, and still get a rush when I'm invited to a bar somewhere to see someone unveil a new brew they're excited about, and want to try on an audience for the first time.

My first editor once told me they had Booker Prize shortlist authors who would kill for my sales figures. I'm sure that's true, but mine are nothing to write home about. CAMRA now has 90,000 members. You've got to be passionate about beer to join CAMRA, and if every person who cared about beer enough to put their hand in their pocket every year to renew their CAMRA membership also thought my books were worth reading, well, I'd now be living mortgage-free and very happy indeed. For me, there's nothing better than an afternoon in a beer garden with a pint of TT Landlord in one hand and a good book in the other, but for many, reading and drinking just don't go together. Maybe I shouldn't have slagged CAMRA off quite so vehemently in that first book - but someone had to.

No matter.

The last ten years have been a blast. And the thing that both writing and beer exploration have in common is that, as your dreams of being a professional footballer or rock god or fashion model (only one of these three was my dream) fall away as symbols of a youth that you suddenly realise you only ever had one go at, that wasn't a rehearsal, that had no second chance at - both the craft of writing and the simple enjoyment of beer can only improve as you get older. You read more, you experience more, you know more. If you have your health, you've got the rest of your life, unless Alzheimer's rears its head, to refine your craft, and your enjoyment. I hope I get another forty years doing what I've spent the last ten doing. At this age, it's very comforting to think that, in stuff that's very important to you, you're still at the beginning of the journey.

Jesus. This is what Wonder Years would have sounded like if it hadn't been put out of its misery once Fred Savage hit puberty.

Aaaaaanyywaaay. I get the horrible feeling that in the next few days I will be wishing I had deleted the above rather than posting it.

I've spent the last week of my thirties being quite self-indulgent, on a mini-beer-tour around the Great North of England, having a whale of the time. Various posts to follow on my experiences.

More importantly, I'm celebrating the 'beginning' of my life, upstairs at the White Horse, on Saturday, 12th July, from 7pm. Any reader of this blog - even the Anonymous Twat(s) who have no knowledge about beer and no meaningful life in the real world - are invited to come along and help me celebrate/drown my sorrows, so long as you play nice on the night. We've got some free beer - good beer - and when that runs out, there's lots more excellent beer that you'll have to pay for. For fuck's sake, we're talking about the White Horse!

If you've read this far, you deserve the free stuff.

Please indulge me and cut me a bit of slack - and I hope to see you there on Saturday.

Cheers,

Pete

13 comments:

Chris said...

Pete,

Happy birthday for tomorrow. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed both your books and how much I'm looking forward to the third. Don't know whether it was a good idea publicising your party though - you know what can happen when these things get mentioned on the web. I've got visions of 100s of drunk, teenage, facebookers descending on your celebrations!

Have a good 'un.

Prost!

Chris (in Germany)

Nigel Smith said...

Pete

Happy Birthday! Have a great time on Saturday. Hope you remember it on Sunday.

As for slagging off Camra... both your books really makde me think about beer. You'll be gratified to know how many conversations I've begun with "I read this really intersting book about beer..." and then repeated an anecdote from one your books. As a Camra member myself I've found your constructive criticism some of the most thought-provoking.

Mike (Pint of Ale) said...

Happy birthday, Pete! I enjoy your blog and I've enjoyed both of your books (glad to know that makes me two of the 30,000!) and I'm looking forward to your third (and fourth?).

Have a good night on Saturday.

Paul Garrard said...

"both the craft of writing and the simple enjoyment of beer can only improve as you get older." Profound and probably very true.

Happy Birthday

Troy Burtch said...

Happy Birthday Pete.

Like the rest of the individuals that have posted comments, I too enjoyed both books and I look forward to the third one as well.

We gotta get you to Canada to spend some time visiting the up-and-coming craft brewing industry.

Have a good party.

Cheers,
Troy

Stephen Beaumont said...

Wish I could be there, Pete, if only to slap you on the back of your head and remind you that 40 is by no means old and not even convincingly "not young." Plus the free beer, 'natch. Problem is, there's this big ocean thingy between me and the White Horse...

Have a good birthday, my friend. I'll raise a glass of something to your health and toast the next time we'll surely meet.

(BTW, I'm 44 and three books ahead of you. Get writing!)

Michael Kiesling said...

Pete-

Love Three Sheets and need to read Man Walks In to a Pub. Just 2.5 years older than you, I can tell you my years past 40 have been great.

I will be more than happy to buy you a few pints if you make it out to San Francisco. Happy 40!

-Motor

Bryan said...

Happy birthday, Pete, from someone you've never met. Actually, if I'm not mistaken, first comment here from me as well...but a long time reader enjoying your work, which I find always brings a fresh perspective to the world of drinks and pens. Especially the Fred Savage piece here!

I'm a couple of years behind you and actually looking forward to my 5th decade. Keep up the great work.

Cheers,
Bryan

Exmoorjane said...

Oh Pete, you're but a child still! Try looking fifty in the eye. As I type this you will (hopefully) have been that man walking into that pub and probably be at least a few sheets to the wind.
Happy Birthday! Looking forward to meeting you in Somerset before long.....

Anonymous said...

happy belated birthday!

al_uk said...

Great Party (from two more people older than you.)
Keep up the good work and maybe we'll see you back in God's own County in the near future.

Al and Barbara
xx

impymalting said...

I just had a recent birthday as well and needed to read this. I'm glad you didn't delete it. Too bad I missed your birthday celebrations-- I hope they were happy.

Chela said...

Happy birthday from Spain. Pete...(better late than never) Second time writting to you but I'm a long time reader of your blog. I like your dynamic and fresh perspective really far from other stiff and rigid beer writers( and even worst beer bloggers especially those so stiff and up-to-nose that someone should tell them to come back to earth)I think you are encouraging people to get close to beer and its importance.
Haya Salud/Cheers

P.S.-I'd like to share some pints with you and the rest of your readers/friends in the White Horse but unfortunately I'm in the late shift and my last Easy Jet from Asturias to London departs at 20.00h. hehehehe. Maybe in a near future.Haya Salud