History and Current Affairs

Just before I left to go on holiday in August I gave a couple of interviews for local newspapers, including one for this article by Mike Chapple at the Daily Post, about having to revise the Cain’s book in the light of recent events. It’s an interesting position to be in. Quite a few people have asked about it so I thought I would write a few things down here.

I began working on my book about the Cain’s brewery in the early summer of 2006. Over the following year or so I worked on it alongside bits of freelance work and teaching and I submitted the manuscript in August 2007. There were times in that year when I spent weeks deliberating over a piece of research, testing possibilities, writing and rewriting until the story made sense. Robert Cain and the story of his brewery became for a while the things I thought about last thing at night and the things that woke me up in the morning.

The Cain’s book has been scheduled for publication in September 2008 since the beginning of the year and by July production was well advanced. Towards the end of that month I received the proofs to read and correct. As it stood then the book concluded with an upbeat tale of a brewery’s resurgence and the renewed confidence of a great city. I looked forward to seeing it on the shelf in Waterstones. But within days of sending back the proofs, history intervened. First there was the disputed tax bill and the winding up order, then the poor results. On August 1st the Bank of Scotland refused any further support for the company and on August 7th Cain’s went into administration. Clearly I would be going back whether I liked it or not.

What happens next is in the hands of the administrators who are working hard to rescue what they can of the Cain’s Beer Company and restore the business to an operational state. I set out to write a history book–the story goes back 200 years–and find myself waiting for current affairs to work themselves through so I can update the final chapter. As long as the Robert Cain brewery is still making beer of course the story will never end, but the book is now due for publication towards the end of October.

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