In 2018, Deserter published the best book ever written about drinking in south London. Now, they’re back with another tome — a guide on how to get through life by doing nothing. If they can be bothered to write it, that is.
Hello Deserter. You’re infamously lazy. Can you really be bothered to do this interview?
What Heather-in-Marketing tells us to do, we do. As long as it’s after lunch. She knows that.
You’ve got a new book on the way. How is it going to teach Londoners to shirk, rest and play?
Quite simply, shirk = work avoidance, rest = naps, sitting down and a brief but sensational history of the sofa, and play = games, messing about and pubs. Plus, we reveal all our health and beauty secrets and finally, death: what’s in it for you?
What’s your favourite tactic/secret/shortcut from the book?
One seasonal gambit is a woman we know who is always “on call” with work at Christmas. In reality she just bought herself an old school pager and sets it off whenever she’s had enough of her godawful extended family. Beep beep beep and she’s off for the afternoon, smoking a fat one in Kew Gardens, usually.
And what’s your advice to our readers for coping without pubs during further lockdowns/tiers?
Park benches and wheelie bins are fine for the time being, but there’s no doubt about it, pubs are a central part of the Deserter existence, and we feel their absence viscerally. Our biggest worry is that many will never re-open. So we advocate using their takeaway offers wherever possible. To that end we created the Takeaway Draught Beer map [below], which we’re honoured is now up for a BAFTA, unless someone’s having us on.
We’re a bit worried London might lose some of its beloved pubs. If Deserter opened its own pub, which parts of London’s best boozers would you incorporate?
A Deserter pub has often been mooted, but at the end of every discussion we reluctantly conclude that rather than publicans, we’re more what you might call “end users”. Running a pub is hard work. There’s lots of humping and cleaning and admin and forward planning. Everything we stand against. At our last meeting about it with the money men, our list of must-haves included weed smoking to be not just tolerated but encouraged, punters allowed to bring their own booze and that the bar should be situated in a phone box. Our own commercial manager called us a “pair of hippy dreamers” and stormed out of the meeting, so that was that, really.
Living in London is costly—especially now lots of jobs are gone. How would you suggest people live their best London life on the cheap?
The book will be filled with advice on how to cosy up to elderly relatives, enjoy no-lose gambling, become a mystery shopper and other tips on how to live like a king on fuck all. One of our favourites is the “Eternal Student”. Sign up for a £9.99 online accountancy course with e-careers and bag yourself a bona fide NUS card for massive discounts on travel, scran, clothes and 200 quid off a new Mac. It’s a bloody gold mine. And best of luck with your studies.
In your previous book, you were everywhere from hospitals to three-sided footy matches. Does the new book take us to more hidden London gems?
Kempton Park, Dulwich Hamlet, the Blythe Hill Tavern and the lavs at Brixton McDonalds, to name a few belters.
Help to make Shirk, Rest, Play happen, by making a pledge.