Rebecca Tyrrel: JD Wetherspoon is named after a teetotal geography teacher from New Zealand

 

Share
Related Topics

Who knew that one of George Orwell's legacies to British culture is the JD Wetherspoon pub chain? Among the countless millions inspired by his work was Tim Martin, who was a young entrepreneur in 1976 when he read an Orwell article in the Evening Standard from 40 years earlier describing his perfect pub – free of music so that the customers could talk freely, selling cheap and nutritious food, serving its draught beer in pewter tankards, and where the friendly barmaids know your name (and they're always glad you came).

Orwell called his utopian boozer The Moon Under Water, and Martin was inspired to name and style his first establishments after George's dream. There are still 14 Moons, but the vast majority of Tim's pubs owe their names to a hybrid of homage and vengeance.

The JD bit is taken from JD 'Boss' Hogg – not one of the pigs in Animal Farm, but the sheriff in the US TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. Wetherspoon was the surname of a geography teacher Martin encountered at a New Zealand school, who not only assured the boy Martin that he would never amount to anything in business, but was a teetotaller.

Sadly, there is no record of any attempted rapprochement between the two. This was not the case with Leonard Skinner, the Florida high-school gym teacher who repeatedly sent a group of lads to the principal's office for having long hair. They went on to grow their hair even longer and named their rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd in a sarcastic tribute to Leonard, who later opened bars in Jacksonville, Florida and invited the group to come play for him. Who knows, if three of the Skynyrds hadn't died in a plane crash in 1977, maybe they would have nipped to the barber by now and the now late Leonard himself would have died happy.

The New York Times obituary described Mr Skinner as "arguably the most influential high-school gym teacher in American popular culture". If Mr Wetherspoon, his New Zealand equivalent, is still with us, he can look forward to something similar, though whether any geography teacher, let alone a teetotal one, could enjoy being publicly mocked seems unlikely. Somehow, one suspects, having his name on the signs above all those pubs with beer-swilling binge drinkers rolling round in the gutter outside them would be Mr Wetherspoon's Room 101, or at the very least, 'doubleplusungood'.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Hollywood: Stop trying to make Superman cool. The world needs a boy scout in blue

Matthew James
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders