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Saturday, 14 March 2009

Those other Hops & Glory legals in full

I posted the other day about how evil lawyers are making publishers like mine very jumpy indeed by reading books for anything they might conceivably make a libel suit out of, then hounding people who have been written about to try and make them sue.  

So here's an experiment - let's see if they're as attentive on blogs.

I'd like to tell you the other lines we've agreed to censor to avoid legal action over the book.  See if you think I'm in trouble:
  • I'm not allowed to refer to Mariah Carey as a "deranged diva"
  • I'm not allowed to describe a "cave full of evil, bad-tempered little goblin cooks" and follow this with the phrase "shit, imagine that - a whole tribe of Antony Worral-Thompsons"
  • And I'm strongly advised not to include the following passage, which was intended to illustrate my own incompetence in organising my sea journey to India, as well as highlighting the pretentiousness of the North London, self-loathing middle class of which I'm part.  My editor didn't think it was good enough to go in the book anyway - it didn't make him laugh, and didn't move the story forward, and given that we were quite far over the agreed length, no-one wanted it in except me.  But it was legal worries that finally killed it.  The conversation is presented word for word as it happened:

It was hopeless combing the outer reaches of the internet like this. What I needed was a specialist travel agent, someone who organised Travel with a capital ‘T’ and pointed and laughed at squares like me who queued at Heathrow to board flights with businessmen and families with screaming children like everyone else.  But where would I find someone like that?  Did such a place even exist?  It must do.  But where? 


The retrospectively obvious answer flashed at me from a TV screen one morning while I was torturing myself in the gym.  I’d been walking past ‘Intrepid Travel’ in Upper Street, Islington, almost every day since it opened about four years ago.  Islington.  Of course.  Islington could never make do with an ordinary travel agent.


It was next door to Black’s, the outdoor and camping equipment shop.  How could I have forgotten this?  Intrepid Travel.  Christ, yes.  That was me. 


The façade of the shop was built from slightly distressed wood, like you might find at a chandlery, for example.  Stencilled onto the woodwork, in paint that looked like it was designed to withstand salty sea storms, I read: 

Intrepid is for those with a yearning to explore, a sense of fun and a wish to get off the beaten trail.  Intrepid travellers want to experience a country and its people.


They enjoy a flexible and relaxed attitude to travel, come from all corners of the world and are of all ages.  Some travel with friends, though many by themselves.  They are real travellers.


Fuck yeah. 


Real travellers!  That was me!  I wouldn’t have dared go in here before planning this journey because they would have laughed at me.  Now, I adopted my best Traveller’s body language and expression – yeah, I’ve BEEN there – and walked in.


“Do you organise sea voyages?”


“What, like to Antarctica?”


“Sorry?  Well no, not necessarily.  I meant generally, like container ships or maybe tall ships.  I’m writing this book you see and –“


“It’s just that we don’t do that.”


“No, no, I don’t want to go to Antarctica-”


“I mean, we don’t do any kind of sea travel.”


“You don’t book voyages by sea of any description?”




“How do people travel on your adventures then?”


“Well… they fly, obviously.”


“So the unbeaten track starts at Luton Airport, does it?”




“Nothing.  Doesn’t matter.”


“I can give you the name of a website.”


“That would be great!”


“It’s called travel without flying.  Or fly free travel.  Something like that.  Something for people who are frightened of flying, anyway.”


“I’m not frightened of flying!  I’m trying to be more adventurous.  I thought that was the point!”


“We’ve never used them, but someone told me about it once.”


I walked out, staring at the façade again to make sure I’d read it correctly.  “Not really that intrepid then, eh?” I said just loud enough to be heard, because the alternative was bursting into tears. 


I stared at Black’s, and realised that, along with most people who shop in Islington, I’d only ever been in there during the third week in June – just before the Glastonbury Festival.  

What the hell was I going to do? 


Jeff Pickthall said...

One of life's little pleasure is winding up middle-class people who insist on saying "going travelling" instead of "going on holiday". It is for this chippy northerner anyway.

sem said...

Seems to me that either this is another Intrpid Travel company or the person in the office didn't know what Intrepid do. Check out

BLTP said...

my bug bear is the people who go "treking" in patagonia instead of walking in south america.
How can any place on this world or another be "unspoilt" if it's got some braying smug sports promotion Pr and his girlfriend kiteboarding across it.

ATJ said...

Tell your editor that I found it funny. To paraphrase ee cummings: a smug ‘traveller’ is an arse on which everyone has sat apart from a human being.

Donnie said...

I found it funny as well. Partly because I went in there once and was given a load of attitude for not wearing combats, not talking like Bear Grylls and for not having been "travelling". They have a knack of making everyone feel completely inferior. Or is it just me?

Exmoorjane said...

But it's ISLINGTON, for puck's sake - what do you expect? Made me laugh too though... Publishers always cut out the good sense of fun or adventure (pretty much like poor old Intrepid then).

Exmoorjane said...

btw, am trying to persaude ATJ that we ought to be wild and different, duck the zeitgeist and be 'tourists' on a package for once. All that travelling is hugely overrated....

knutalbert said...

It's funne. Very funny. Hope there's more like it in the book, then!

Pete said...

Sem, thanks for the tip! If I'd known about this two years ago things would have been much easier (though perhaps less entertaining to read about).

Knut, I can guarantee there are still some laughs left in the book. Only eleven weeks to go (not that I'm over-excited or anything).

Jeffrey said...

Bloody hell, don't be such a wanker Pete! If there's one person that can't even begin to slag off a lawyer, it's a professional journalist!

Pete said...

Ooh, touchy!

You've got to admit that's pretty reprehensible behaviour.

I'm not slagging off all lawyers but people who do stuff like this are scum. To keep your analogy, the journalistic equivalent would be the muckraking tabloid journalist raking through people's bins for salacious stories. Not all journos are like that and not all lawyers trawl books looking to create upset where there is none, but both deserve condemnation.