Pints, pubs and Pashley

By Lawrence Bailey

If you are a fan of Oprah’s monthly selections, it’s best you ignore Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and Why It’s Necessary. Likewise, if you’re a recovering alcoholic. However, if you lead a simple life and enjoy its smaller pleasures, this compilation of tales, tidbits, history and musings is a must-have.

England-born, Etobicoke-raised author Nicholas Pashley is a self-described "pub-minded" individual. His dry wit, gift of the gab and love of a frosty pint fulfil every British stereotype known to man–a truly beautiful thing.

Peppered liberally with references to professional baseball and George Orwell, Notes on a Beermat is a jovial and lighthearted look at the western world’s favourite refresher–the pint. Inspired in small part by The Moon Under Water, an essay by Orwell himself, Pashley began the daunting–some would say impossible–task of sewing the literary fabric of the elusive perfect pub. By wandering into history, moving across continents and sifting through countless personal experiences, his journey isn’t a brief one.

His reasons for drinking and why everyone should, include greatly expanded social experiences. Pashley establishes a common thread through all men and the ever necessary task of taking the edge off a litany of things that could stress us out in the world. Among those mentioned are widespread poverty, violence, hatred, Celine Dion’s career and the designated hitter rule.

In no way an academic or detached approach to beer and all its affiliates, Notes is written by a beer lover, for beer lovers. This is evidenced by the chapter entitled "The more I drink, the better I look: Drinking and Sex." While this is not the opening instalment in the book (in fact, it begins on page 38), it acknowledges that most readers will begin their reading there and addresses them accordingly.

In short, Pashley is a funny, funny man whose tongue has definitely been loosened in 20 ounce instalments. This is a blessing for readers, as the public house is evidently his element.

A dedicated individual who has trekked clear across Canada, the United States and continental Europe as well as the Isle of Ale itself, Pashley has a passion for pubs that is truly impressive.

Also quite a nat- ural storyteller, Pashley is curr-ently employed by the University of Toronto Bookstore. His ability to turn phrases and incite laughter have long been sought after by Dave Broadfoot and three Canadian Governor Generals. And why not? This is a man who idolizes the First Children, Jenna and Barbara Bush while proudly driving a 1987 K-car.

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