I DON'T as a rule visit pubs.
Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable places. Make you late for dinner.
And, though I used to visit once or twice a year, I haven't been to England for ages. Too much exposure to certain tabloid newspapers — for professional purposes, you understand — has led me to believe the natives hate us and might form an anti-Scottish mob were I to breenge into a chippie and say: "A haddock supper wi' broon sauce, ken?"
Mind you, mobs in Glasgow can attack you for this too, saying: "Away back to Embra, ya anglified, sauce-sooking jessie. It's vinegar we put on chips round these here parts."
With these caveats, let me praise The Hobbit, a pub in yonder Southampton. I'm a Tolkienist, as you know, and would rather fight for The Shire than Nato.
So The Hobbit sounds my sort of place. They do Gollum cocktails and Galadriel shots. Thursdays are Tom Bombadil cabaret nights. True, it's also a meeting place for zombies. Nothing against them, but they are discombobulating. No matter how liberal you are, you'd be discomfited too if you're daughter brought a zombie home and said: "This is the thing I am going to marry."
Other than that, it's all harmless fun. Or so you might have thought. In a bizarre case of corporate bullying, US movie lawyers have invoked some copyright bilge and told the pub to change its name. A massive campaign, supported by Tolkien actors Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen, has mobilised behind the pub. While there are signs of reason breaking out Stateside, substantial legal costs have been incurred.
Fundraisers have been held and I'm sure The Hobbit will remain The Hobbit. As Barliman Butterbur, innkeeper of The Prancing Pony, said: "What's done can't be undone."
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