It all started – as a lot of the best ideas do – when author and journalist Phil Penfold was sitting in a pub, with a pint and a ploughman’s.
Between sups and bites, it dawned on him that, while he’d been visiting this particular watering-hole on many occasions over the years, he’d never ever enquired about its rather strange name.
Phil, aged 63, who lives in Lawn Road, Doncaster, was in York, and en route to see the premiere of York Theatre Royal’s box-office smash hit, The Railway Children.
He said: “I happened to be in one of my favourite places, The Three-Legged Mare, just around the corner from the theatre.
“I’d taken my mother with me and she was finishing off a small gin and tonic when she looked up and asked: ‘Do you know why it has got such a strange name?’
“And I had to confess that I hadn’t a clue. So I went to the bar and posed the question to the lad pulling pints and he pointed out into the tiny walled garden behind the pub.
“To my amazement, there was a replica of the infamous Three Legged Mare, which turned out to be a rather macabre construction of a trio of upright posts, with a beam from one to the other at the top. Horrible, but a ruthlessly efficient ‘conveyor belt’ killing machine – why have just one gibbet when you can polish off a few at a time?
“When I explained all this to my mother, she said ‘You know, there must be a lot of stories about pub names, of drink and drinking, and all the related information, that a lot of people would find fascinating’.”
And so was born Phil’s new book, A Little of What You Fancy, a compendium of facts, figures, tall tales and oddball information on and about alcohol in all its forms.
“We have such a rich history of original inn and pub names that I really do wonder why the ones they invent today are so unoriginal and lacking in imagination.
Researched over two years, it took the author down ‘a lot of strange and fascinating by-ways’.
The book, available to download through Amazon, is described by CAMRA member Phil as a ‘bedtime book’. “It is one that can be enjoyed by flipping through, and reading a few pages at a time. I want to get readers saying ‘well, I never knew that’ or ‘blimey, that’s interesting’.”
Book based on riot of sexual and drinking innuendo
The title of the book, came to Phil almost immediately.
“I’ve always loved theatre and entertainment,” said Phil.
“And one of the brightest stars of her day was Marie Lloyd, who had a huge hit song with the number A Little Of What You Fancy, which on the surface was just a ditty telling her audience to get out and enjoy themselves, but which, underneath, is a riot of sexual and drinking innuendo.
“Marie was the mistress of the saucy lyrics, and was so naughty that she was banned from appearing in the USA because of her ‘moral turpitude’. It just all seemed to fit, somehow.”
The book is packed with facts about pubs, drinking and anecdotes about stars and their boozy tales.