The Old Dog and Duck, By Albert Jack


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The Independent Culture

What, no Intrepid Fox? The shade of Charles James, that much-loved Georgian radical, will be miffed.

A few such oversights aside, this convivial guide to "the "secret meanings of pub names" will satisfy the thirst of bar-propping readers with a taste for history's byways.

Albert Jack entertainingly identifies the monarchs and warriors, rogues and legends, behind signboards. Inns may recall civil wars (York-vs-Lancaster in The Bear and Ragged Staff or The White Hart; crown-vs.Parliament in The Royal Oak), pilgrimage (The Cross Keys) or myth (The Green Man).

But a hazy closing-time confusion still surrounds old favourites. The Elephant and Castle may not be (as knowalls in the snug think) "the Infanta of Castile", but the emblems of the cutlers' guild.