The Charles Dickens public house in Southwark is one of dozens that claims a link to the famous author. It still serves the kind of ale that Dickens famously drank at the tender age of 11 whilst washing down some scraps of dry bread. Penury brought about when his father was in Marshalsea Prison for debt. Dickens of course used this experience at the rough end of life to inform his early journalism but also his burgeoning publishing career. As our journalist Dickens would frequent pubs in the City and West End and in his "Sketches of Boz" gives us a glimpse of the type of drinking habits that Londoners continued to indulge. He regularly described scenes of riot and confusion increasing as the night wore on and the drinking frayed tempers. In one famous passage he described landlords struggling unsuccessfully to keep the peace before the Peelers arrived. You could probably find similar accounts in the local papers depicting a modern Friday or Saturday evening from Croydon to Hitchin! Of course Dickens was writing when religious revivalism had transformed social justice into a worthy political objective. The ills of alcoholism ("the demon Drink") were ascribed so much to the appalling social conditions the London working classes had to endure, as they were to character flaws. It was probably about this time that the popular myth that the middle classes drank to be sociable and the working classes drank to get drunk gained currency. None of this brought about dramatic regulation, however, despite Parliament discussing it endlessly through all these guises of insobriety. It wasnít until alcohol fuelled munitions workers threatened to blow themselves up that drinking hours were introduced during the Great War.
I have many that look to the vaults,
and many that cater to timeless tunnels,
I have many that recall the great times,
before the huge shaking that pummeled,
I have many that ensure I stay quite pure,
and render my tales told quite truthful,
I have many that recall the same tales,
told when I was rather more youthful,
and they prime me I waver at all,
or embellish tales told too long tell,
they make sure I tell all as it is,
and not told better for me to swell,
my head in its telling a little bit strange,
just a little bit short of the mark,
no everything is still told as it was,
way back then in those times so dark,
am immortal as you understand it,
will always be here to consult or contact,
this place will always be safe and secure,
its walls will evermore be intact,
just ask of me what you would see,
what you would know and would delight,
and I will turn the darkness of ignorance,
into the truth that shines through the night.

And the man looked around him now,
and saw his companions looking too,
and he saw the little three legged toad,
he saw the mole with his velvet shoes,
he saw the otter and the little rat,
small and furry bit scared,
the little doormouse sat with the spider,
and the beaver with his teeth bared,
and said to them all, standing so tall,
do you all want to go on and to learn?
do you want to follow me into this place?
no one will say ought if you turn,
are all free to leave me now,
and nothing will ever be written,
about who did what and did when,

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