Fancy a pint with your Proust?

18th September 1998 at 01:00
Having already made football and rock music its own, the Government is set to tackle the last bastion of laddism - pubs.

Labour is no longer content to let people spend their leisure time simply getting drunk. It wants them discussing Voltaire and Irvine Welsh while they do it.

As part of the National Year of Reading, the Britannia Inn in Boston, Lincolnshire, is piloting a Book Clubs in Pubs scheme. Once a month drinkers will be invited to watch a film at a local arts centre, read the novel, then meet back at the local to discuss the plot over a pint and a packet of peanuts.

Landlord Tim Rawlinson believe pubs make natural informal cultural centres. He's also canny enough to suspect it might be good for business.

He says: "Pub culture is becoming popular again. The club will appeal to people who wouldn't dream of coming into a public house - single people who don't want to look like Norman no-mates drinking alone."

Matt Burden, 22, is a Britannia regular. He likes the idea, but only for other people. "I don't think the people who drink in here are particularly literary minded," he says. "We'd rather get drunk and get laid."

Matt's friend Jim Counsell, 26, agrees: "There are no amenities in this town so me and my mates spend a lot of time in the pub anyway. We argue about films and music over a drink, and form and change opinions, but books aren't part of our mainstream culture.

"The only time you ever see people talking about books is on BBC2 at 10. 30 on a Sunday night. But we'd just get laughed at. That's how it is in towns like this. This year is a good idea, but reading is never going to be the new rock 'n' roll is it?" Dylan Hollick, 22, points out that as every drinker loves the sound of their own voice, and never fails to put the world to rights, the critical analysis part should come easy. "We've got the most elegant, expansive language in the world and we all become more so after a few drinks," he says. "The only problem is, you might not remember what you'd read in the morning. "

Year of Reading, page 4

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