The Last Landlady

By Laura Thompson

A homage to the English pub

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


Another huge thank you to the lovely people who have pledged to this book. A big thrill every time I see a new name. The book is nearly done now - harder than I expected; one somehow thinks that a labour of love will flow, which it doesn't. I dared to re-read the first half, an evocation of my grandmother's pub from my childhood memories. At the time I'd been happy with what I wrote but had I, in fact, been metaphorically sozzled on the pleasure of writing it? No. It was all right (God knows what I would have done if it hadn't been - had a drink I suppose). I felt that it did, on the whole, what it was supposed to do: in so far as this is possible, it seeks to explain why pubs matter to us. 

I was recently watching the very brilliant TV adaptation of Zadie Smith's NW. and at one point the camera focussed on a line of graffiti that read something like 'When our pub dies you kill us'. Those aren't the exact words (I did write them down, and eventually will find them). But the message naturally struck me, because again it is what my book is about: the blessed importance of the pub in our lives.

The regular closure of pubs implies that they don't matter anymore; and yet somehow they do, mostly in our collective memory but also in actuality. There is a pub two doors away from me (whenever I go in there, I can call it research). It couldn't be more different from my grandmother's rich red-lit establishment. It's all bleached beams and pistachio fittings, the food comes on artists' palettes, there are 5 kinds of nuts etc etc.. Yet it still, in a diluted way, does the thing it is supposed to do: gives full value to the words Public and House. And it is about more than merely drinking. The subtle difference between pubs and drinking is another theme of the book...

More before I reach last orders. Again, thanks.



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