The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense

by Al Murray

Hodder & Stoughton, 2007


Al Murray is the bald-headed, witty owner of a British pub, and his Book is a lavishly-illustrated compendium of his musings on booze, sports, women, James Bond, Dr. Who, Tom Cruise, Robin Hood, windmills,  fern bars, Britishness, religion,  and anything else that crosses his mind.  Murray's a patriot, still proud of Churchill and Britain's performance in WWII, but most of his attitudes are cynical, irreverent, and down-to-earth in a slightly old-fashioned way.  Great Britain is "The Centre of the Earth," and God "is British," but the Last Supper was "basically a stag do," the crucial thing to remember about work is "Always only ever do the bare minimum, "  and "you really shouldn't worry about" Shakespeare.  Murray says, "Now, I do like to see a gent in a tie, it denotes effort...Though no way on earth am I doing up my top button."


If reading that sentence jogs your memory of Zulu slightly, like a very indirect reference to both Hitch and Hook vis a vis military formality, you are onto something.  Murray is a Zulu fan and his Book of British Common Sense refers to the film twice. 


First, on page 17, Murray cites Zulu as evidence of British fair play:  red coats made the British easy targets, thus compensating for the Zulus' inferior weaponry.  A color photo of Michael Caine as Bromhead accompanies this section.


Later, on pages 137-9, Murray gives the rules for The Zulu Drinking Game.  Basically, you pick a side in the battle and then drink whenever one of your enemies is killed.  Or you can drink whenever one of your own side is killed.  The important thing is to be consistent.  Where Murray really shows his knowledge of Zulu is in the long list of Other Times to Drink.  Not surprisingly, one of these Other Times shows Murray to be a fan of Hookie in particular:  "Hook (nickname 'Hooky,' God Bless the British Army) goes to extraordinary lengths to get at the brandy in the medical cupboard, bless him--when he finally does, drain your glass."