I spent far too much of my time at university in a certain pub called The Bear in Oxford. As did Steven Gauge, which is where our paths crossed, in a wavy sort of way, over pints of beer. When we met up again a few years ago at a pub in Soho, we picked up where we left off. But one thing led to another and, as often happens when you get a writer and an editor together, some books were made.
It turns out that Steven had recently averted a mid-life crisis by discovering rugby, and was now proud captain of the third-worst side in Surrey. The process of being mangled in the mud every Saturday had somehow alleviated the stresses of work, and this, he decided, was worth writing about. And so Summersdale published My Life as a Hooker in February 2012, which as I write is still selling well on Amazon, perhaps thanks to the start of the Rugby League World Cup.
The book was also shortlisted for the British Sports Book Awards, which isn't half bad. Luke Benedict, rugby writer for the Daily Mail, said 'this story will appeal to anyone who's ever tried their hand at something they weren't terribly good at but still enjoyed every step of the way... If this is what a midlife crisis does for you, I want one.'
As well as this, Steven managed to write the humour and gift books You Know You're a Rugby Fanatic When... and The Rugby Lover's Companion, and compile the collections Rugby Wit and Political Wit. All in the space of a few years. And he's recently completed a new Bluffer's Guide to Rugby, for publication in March 2014. Here's a snippet on their website: http://bluffers.com/bluffers-guide-rugby-union-rugby-league/
He's just been commissioned this week to compiled a new book on rugby, and since media training for politicians is part of his day job, it's just a matter of time before he's on the telly or doing a stand-up show, we think. Just goes to show, there is much to be said for drinking beer. Which leads me nicely to a plug for another book.
I have heard it said - though I cannot confirm - that those who like rugby are partial to the right combination of hops and malt.
Jane Peyton, head of the School of Booze (http://www.school-of-booze.com/), has two new books out, which would make great gifts. One of them I edited, so I know whereof I speak. Beer O'Clock is about what to drink, how to brew, beer and food matching, and trivia about the world's favourite drink. School of Booze is 'everything you need to know about life's second greatest pleasure' (I assume the first must be rugby?), with trivia about alcohol history and culture. Signed copies available through the website.
Listen to Steven Gauge reading from My Life as a Hooker here: