BY TOBY PORTER
You know when two men get together in the pub and talk about Taylor Swift’s make-up, wedding outfits, their love for their mums and Kim Kardashian’s baby?
Nah? Thought not. When blokes meet up, the topics are more likely to be football, beer and cars. And maybe Kim Kardashian’s other attributes. Two drinking buddies have decided to make the most of their love of chatting about booze and banalities in bars, at a boom time for local breweries.
And the blog which they created, called Deserter, has landed them a book deal.
The slacker storytellers have signed with Unbound to release their first book, Today South London, Tomorrow South London, featuring their unique portraits of life below the river.
London is one of the most written about cities in the world. Some of London, anyway. South London has been a slum, a bawdy resort and a neglected afterthought of the capital. But only now in the 21st century has it forged its own identity. And only now is this wonky wonderland going to get the book it deserves – or that’s what the blurb claims, anyway.
Founded in 2014 by former media exec, Andrew Grumbridge – who worked on Channel 4 and Virgin Radio – and his work-shy colleague, Vincent Raison, Deserter has become essential reading for thousands of South Londoners looking to get more out of life by doing less.
Deserter – motto Shirk, Rest and Play – has its own beer, Deserter IPA – created with Southey Brewing, Penge.
Legendary social nights have followed and now a film version of one of their stories is in development, with big subtitles for the double of seeing.
Their podcast, Deserter Pubcast, was named seventh most essential podcast of 2017 by Esquire, the magazine where they’ve never heard of make-up or wedding outfits.
And this year they will appear at Brixton BookJam as well as hosting evenings at two South London film festivals.
Today South London, Tomorrow South London will incorporate updated material from their blog as well as new urban adventures.
Supporters include restaurant critic Jay Rayner, comedian Jenny Eclair and rapper Professor Green. The broadcaster Ned Boulting, who has agreed to write the book’s foreword, said: “Anyone with London in their hearts, especially the mystifyingly under-appreciated South-east, should read Deserter on a regular basis… Total genius.”
Andrew Grumbridge said: “I am very excited to be working with Unbound although I have been advised that writing a book will take some effort on our part, which has rather taken the sheen off proceedings.”
Vincent Raison said: “With its tales of bunking off early, messing about in the city and devising perfect pub crawls, I feel I have been researching this book ever since I retired, aged 28.”
Unbound are a crowdfunding organisation who have published more than 300 books by connecting authors with their readers.
If Deserter’s campaign to provide a humorous guide to the less-beaten paths south of the river is successful, their book will be published later in 2018.
CLASSIC DESERTER QUOTES:
On the King’s Arms, Waterloo: “The alpha table is at the fitted seats in front of the fire in the side bar. It’s what we deserve after a hard day’s doing very little.”
Of the Beer Shop, Nunhead: “It means that, finally, there’s a pub on each corner of Nunhead Green, as nature intended.”
On a pilgrimage to the galleries of Blackheath – firstly, the White Box. “[A friend called] Half-life was so distressed by passing three pubs en route that he marched past the gallery and straight into the Hare & Billet. There, he asked for various members of staff only to find they had all moved on since his last visit. “There’s no chance of a lock-in now, pal,” he moaned. Which was just as well, as it was only 2pm.”
On a trip to the Peter von Kant Gallery, Tanners Hill: “[My wife] bought a print of a bleak, barren landscape as it reminded her of our first date.”
Readers can become a part of boozy literary history by pledging to support the project at www.unbound.com/books/deserter/