Review of ‘It Could be a Little Gold Mine’, by David Allingham

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 10th April 2006, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by David Allingham
From Johnson Publishing with comical illustrations by Bill Tidy
ISBN 0-95425-746-4 (2006)

This is a collection of 'Tales by Mr A, a Country Innkeeper'. Mr A is David Allingham, one time 'runt of the family' back in Yorkshire but for many years mine host and head chef of the Bentley Brook Inn at Fenny Bentley, and his reputation goes before him.

With good reason, Mr A was dubbed a real-life Basil Fawlty by a national newspaper. I chanced upon a recent local radio interview in which he recalled asking one customer to keep out of his inn simply because 'You absolutely bore me to death.' It isn't only that Mr A gives as good as he gets, he generally gets in there first.

Though one should not judge a book by its cover, it seems reasonable to judge an author by his book. These memoirs are written with humour and a relish that dispenses with false modesty to recall a very rocky road towards a dream. It begins with a run-down hotel where the departing landlord has gambled away the car park, a running stream provides a quaint feature - indoors, and the sewage finds its way into the nearby brook.

Mr and Mrs A took it all on, in fact one of the delights of the book are the frequent tributes to Jeanne, the long-suffering Mrs Allingham, who backed David's dream despite his total lack of anything 'of academic or practical relevance to the hospitality industry'.

Fate placed every imaginable hurdle in their way: strange breeds of customers (who, declares Mr A, are emphatically not always right), con-men, planners, glandular fever, Brer Fox, recalcitrant staff, thwarted salesmen who hurled their wares at the landlord, an open manhole and faddy eaters. 'Let the ladies remember', admonishes our author, 'that when dieting they lose the most interesting bits first.'

Mr A has now transferred his considerable energies to writing. It Could be a Little Gold Mine is his first publication.

Review by Julie Bunting

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