July 7th 2011

The Old Spring (paperback) by Richard Francis

Buy Now Price £7.99

Drinkers queue up here! Richard Francis’s The Old Spring is the name of his fictional pub, but the title also tells you a lot about this unusual, sweet-tempered novel. It’s about the life-spring bubbling up from the dark, the drive to sex and love and laughter in the public bar where an odd assortment of humans huddles for warmth, swapping amazing facts. It’s a day in the life, a day of reckoning, because the books of the pub are £900 short, and the brewery’s creepy rep, Tim, is due to go over them with the landlords, Frank and Dawn.

It’s sex and death that frame it all, the fire upstairs and the dark below. Frank must mend the broken grate so the flames will warm his customers, but his guilty secret has made him neglect the nether fires of his lean, tough-talking wife. Dawn worries about Romesh the Hindu carpet salesman, the man she really loves, who is fading away in hospital after a car crash. People evade worse criminals than themselves, perform impromptu sex acts, find ways of being kind, visit the sick and pray for the dead. The moral lessons are bracingly unprudish – sex of all sorts makes people feel better; live before you die; love is heroic, but possible.

This is a small classic – a slim book of deep but intimate ambition, a record of the beauty and strangeness of small lives on a small island

Maggie Gee, Guardian

The Old Spring is a wonderfully boozy evocation and celebration of pub life, full of all the sorts of characters you dread meeting at a public bar, but are glad you did

Gerard Woodward

Wry, humane comic writing

The Times

A love letter to the great British boozer, a place to plot and dream as well as drink

Financial Times

For those who want to escape, be stimulated and enjoy brilliant writing

Louise Welsh, ‘Books of the Year’ Sunday Herald

Richly comic


Add Your Comment