If you've ever spent any time in a pub, you've probably played your share of billiards, darts, and table football. Yet the gaming history in Britain's public houses is far more storied. In Played at the Pub, Arthur Taylor takes you on a gaming journey that's sure to interest anyone who enjoys games, history, or British culture. The book covers present day favourites like cribbage and dominos, but also brushes on obscure gems like indoor riffle shooting and hood skittles. With great illustrations and compelling descriptions, you'll feel like you're seated at the bar.
From the likes of table football and darts to the lesser known entities of quoits and bagatelle, Arthur Taylor’s look at the weird and wonderful pub games of Britain provides countless little known facts, while serving as a thoroughly entertaining read. Taylor takes readers on a whistle-stop tour of a number of pubs from all corners of Britain and indulges them in the history of many of these intriguing games.
The foreword and first chapter of Played at the Pub: The Pub Games of Britain set the scene by giving us a glimpse of the history and tradition of the ‘pub game’. Within these sections, and throughout the book in general, are hundreds of interesting facts about unheard of games and the origins of more popular games. A prime example of this is that King Henry VIII installed bowling alleys in his palaces yet outlawed anyone else running a bowling alley or even taking part in the game. It is facts like this, combined so effectively with the easy to read prose, that make this book such a good read.
The interesting anecdotes then continue throughout the book, with 23 sections devoted to pub games old and new. Among these are the ever-popular games such as darts, pool, and table football, as well as the not so popular hood skittles, ringing the bull, and even a form of indoor rifle shooting. Included in the homage to each of these games is a brief description of the game along with a history of their origins and developments through the years. With many of the games having ‘you couldn’t make this up’ elements to them, Played at the Pub is more than just a guide to pub games; it’s a very enjoyable book.
Even unknown facts about more popular games such as poker are included. An example of this is that playing poker in a pub for money was actually illegal until 2007. This fact is described by Taylor as being a substantial reason for pubs continuing to do a good trade and his passion for pub games is clear throughout this passage and the one concerning the 2005 Gambling Act.
The pictures included throughout the book serve to provide a more comprehensive idea of how and where the games are played. However, as well as painting a better picture, so to speak, they also manage to provoke the desire to play many of the games and experience the good times that can clearly be had.
That is a major skill of this book, as not only does it inform and entertain but it also makes the reader want to play the games. And why wouldn’t you? The quirks and unique features of all the games are conveyed brilliantly to the point where, without meaning to, Taylor is almost advertising the games.
So whether you’re searching for an ideal place to spend an afternoon playing bat and trap or looking for a rowdy evening of Jamaican block dominoes, allow Arthur Taylor to show you the way.