A Gandalf with Gandalf… or maybe a Gollum.
I’ll concede this post is off-topic to my preparing-for-travel chosen theme but I feel it’s in the name of a just and mighty cause; namely, my favourite place in the world and how the little man (literally) triumphed over evil. Also known as how my favourite pub became D-list famous. The Hobbit is a place that I get childishly excited about. As far as I am concerned the whole point of birthdays is so that I can force my friends to go there since jumping up and down squeaking “Hobbit Hobbit Hobbit!” every time someone suggests town doesn’t seem to work too well in my favour. I love The Hobbit so much I even took my lovely mummy there last mother’s day weekend for a nice bouncy ska night. Note exhibit A:
Anyway, recently The Hobbit has come under attack from the evil lord Saul Zaentz of Hollywood who bought the rights to Tolkien’s work and in view of his Hobbity new film has decided that my lovely pub, which has been The Hobbit pub for in excess of 20 years, must completely re-brand, re-name and re-decorate. How is it that some evil ruddy Californian can demand a traditional independent English pub, that hosts things like cider and ska festivals in its massive garden and is named after a traditional English work, re-name itself? Madness. I object. Anyway, there aren’t many places where you can go for a pint of Gandalf in a garden the size of an amphitheatre and covered in graffitied orks.
For those that don’t know, Saul Zaentz gave the Hobbit until the end of May to completely re-brand itself and get rid of all trace of Hobbit references. This is no mean feat for a pub which is covered in Tolkien murals, each room is named after an area of middle earth, the cocktails (served by the pint as cocktails should be) are all named after Tolkien characters and everything from their gig posters to their business cards, their web site to their T-shirts are branded Hobbit with traditional Tolkien artwork. Let us not forget that The Hobbit was The Hobbit long before the films were even conceived of and shaggy-haired people in baggy trousers and too much eye-liner were bouncing around in it even then. Anyway, the inevitable ‘Save The Hobbit!’ Facebook group appeared and gained about 250 excitable ‘likes’ from angry Southamptonians. Then something magical happened; Stephen Fry (that lovely British institution) got wind of The Hobbit whilst shooting the film in New Zealand and got involved in the cause saying “sometimes, I am ashamed of my industry.” The Facebook group shot up to 30,000 members from all over the world. Then, wonder of wonders, Sir Ian McKellen joined in – Gandalf himself! He posted a statement which said, among other things, “Gandalf’s portrait hangs outside The Hobbit pub and has done for the last 20 years and more. I haven’t been there but it’s clearly not a place to ill-treat hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards in any way.” Go Gandalf. 50,000 supporters by the end of the week and now very nearly 60,000.
Saul Zaentz then turned around and said, “uh, you know I was always open to an amicable compromise right? You should have just said if you didn’t want to re-brand, you can just pay a $100 per year license fee.” Booyah Saul Zaentz you ridiculously named tosser! Hopefully of course the conditions of this license don’t turn out to be as demented as a vegetarian ork but Sir Ian and Steven Fry have offered to pay it on behalf of The Hobbit (making Zaentz look even more of a grasping idiot) and have promised to stop by for a nice blue pint of Gandalf once they’ve finished filming and are back on home turf. Yay!
In celebration I went for a pint of Gandalf with my friend Gandalf (a name she earned at 16 for no apparent reason), although I did eventually settle on a pint of Gollum instead. I thought I’d give you a brief Hobbit gallery of my favourite Hobbit photos:
I have only 2 more observations to make about the recent shenanigans around my lovely little boozer. One is thanking all that is glorious for social-networking. That’s the obvious comment; there can be no denying that had this happened 10 years ago there would have been naught but a few hundred furious Southamptonians and no Hobbit pub. Social networking doesn’t stop people being bastards but it does make it more difficult to get away with it. If you want to be a slimy little bugger you can’t expect the blogosphere not to roar its disapproval at you; P.R. nightmare for evil overlords.
My second observation is a simple one; you don’t mess with an Englishman’s pub. You just don’t. Social networking or no social networking The Hungry Hobbit sandwich bar was a victim to the Zaentz evil empire last year and people made comments about the ridiculousness of it but they didn’t really care. A pub though? Saul Zaentz underestimated the British attachment to pubs. Finding your pub is a delicate science; it takes more consideration than picking a rented home and generally engenders more loyalty. The pub you choose to designate as your local has to represent you completely, walking through the doors should feel like coming home and if someone threatens your home? The scene where you live out all your most special occasions, sunniest afternoons and wildest nights? You get medieval on them is what happens. An Englishman’s home is no longer his castle, his pub is, and an attack on a pub may as well be an attack on Blighty itself. Put that in your Hobbit pipe and smoke it Saul Zaentz, have as many sandwich bars as you want but keep your dirty claws off my pub.
In other news, exactly one month from now I will be on a runway in a plane taking off to fly to Thailand – this makes me very happy!