I was off sick most of the last week but on Saturday I managed to drag myself into Liverpool for radio appearances on the Billy Butler show on BBC Radio Merseyside and then on Brian Reade’s show at City Talk. I’ll try to get copies of the interviews up here as soon as I can; they seemed to go pretty well.
What seems to be becoming clear from talking to people about the book is that there is a lot of interest in the final ‘credit crunch’ chapter. I was asked to comment a couple of times on whether I thought the brewery could survive now and of course that’s an impossible question to answer. While I have been following the company quite closely for several years now and have spoken to the Dusanj brothers several times, that kind of information is just not available. What I do think is that by taking back the brewery and the core pubs and having the administrators take the former Honeycombe estate off their hands, the Dusanj brothers have been handed something an awful lot of companies will be trying to pull off right now, namely a company reduced in size. Had the bank not withdrawn funding–an act that seemed like a disaster at the time–the Cains Beer Company would now be struggling with an over-sized organisational structure, massive debts, and too many pubs, many of them unsaleable. It’s been a painful process for everyone, but that must count as one of the luckiest of lucky breaks.
I did manage to talk a little about the rest of the book though and it’s really the early chapters, about the Robert Cain era, that excite me most about it. The Robert Cain story is obscured by the mythology that has grown up around him and uncovering those myths was one of the most enjoyable parts of researching the book. Robert Cain is often talked about as ‘an Irish immigrant’ who came to Liverpool with nothing, aged 18, but in fact he arrived much earlier than that and had an even more difficult start than has been thought. I’ll be saying more about that here over the coming weeks.
Finally I should mention that the brewery has decided to buy a number of copies of the book and these will be on display and on sale in pubs such as Doctor Duncan’s and The Brewery Tap in Liverpool, and through the brewery website.
Listen to me reading chapter 1 of Cains: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint here:
Cain’s Chapter One (box.net)