If you're in North London, or fancy making the journey, you should wear your clever drinking boots on Jubilee Weekend.
The Stoke Newington Literary Festival is organised every year by my wife, and it takes place this year on 1st to 3rd June, and between stocking bars, introducing acts on stage, running to CostCo and directing volunteers, I'll be doing a couple of events you might be interested in.
On Saturday 2nd June I'm teaming up with Robin Turner to talk perfect London pubs. Robin is one of the co-authors of this excellent book, which you should definitely read, and not just because I'm in it:
I've often spoken about my huge admiration for The Moon Under Water by George Orwell, the best thing anyone has ever written about pubs. Robin and his co-writer Paul Moody, who together run the excellent Caught by the River, travelled the country trying to find Orwell's vision. Yes, they looked in Wetherspoons, and they looked in many other places as well, including London. As my new book is about a legendary London pub, the George in Southwark:
we thought we'd get together and chat about some Perfect London Pubs, and what makes them so. We'll be doing that over a beer upstairs in the White Hart (one of my perfect London pubs) on Saturday 2nd at 1pm.
The following day, I'll be back in the same place for a beer and music matching event. Last year I did beer and book matching and it went down pretty well, so I've moved it on this year. I wrote ages ago about how scientists have proved that listening to particular styles of music can actually change the taste of what you're drinking. It's called Cognitive Priming Theory, and means that particular combinations can create a greater overall sensory experience. I've been mulling this over for a while, and in February I put it to the test with a feature in WORD magazine where I matched up ten beers with ten classic albums.
Duvel, for example, poured from the bottle into its tulip glass, is so feisty it tries to climb up the walls off the glass as if it's trying to get out and claw your face off. This is exactly the same experience as the opening chords of Debaser by the Pixies. Put the two together and it's wildly exhilarating.
Hopback Summer Lightning is too mellow to go with the Pixies and would jar slightly, but put it with Higher than the Sun of Slip Inside This House from Primal Scream's Screamadelica, and you create a woozy, sun-kissed tip that takes you half way to Ibiza. Brew Dog Abstrakt 08 with Public Enemy? Thornbridge Jaipur with the Stone Roses? The possibilities are endless. I'll be choosing six at 1pm in the White Hart.
The link back to books from that one may be tenuous, but Stokeylitfest has always had a strong musical bent too, and this year we've also got Wilko Johnson, a retrospective on the NME with some of its most illustrious former hacks, a review of indie music, and loads more. Check out the website for full details.
And that's not the end of the booze. Refreshed after my event (some beers will be included in the admission price) you may want to toddle along to the talk being hosted by festival sponsors Hendrick's Gin.
They're going to take us on a tour through the history of gin, and some of the legendary writers and characters it has inspired, with some free samples throughout.
With a unique festival beer brewed by Redemption, and other bar sponsors including Aspall's and Budvar, we'll be showing how brain food and booze are the perfect combination.
See you there.