Pints mean prizes for authors

Linda Tweedie, left, and Kate McGregor
Linda Tweedie, left, and Kate McGregor
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TWO former landladies turned authors will be rubbing shoulders with literary legend Frederick Forsyth after their no-holds-barred tales of life in the pub trade landed them in line for a major UK prize.

Kate McGregor and Linda Tweedie have notched up three decades in the pub industry between them, running various bars across Edinburgh and East Lothian.

Last year, they released a book – Life Behind Bars: Confessions of a Pub Landlady – which draws on their real-life experiences in the licensed trade and features a collection of amusing short stories recalling life from the other side of the bar. The book has been a huge success and has now been nominated for the prestigious People’s Book Prize, a nationwide competition aimed at promoting new and undiscovered works.

The landladies are among 36 finalists across three categories – fiction, non-fiction and children – and have issued a revised edition, the Late-Night Lock-In, featuring almost 100 extra pages of anecdotes to celebrate.

Public voting via the competition website will determine the overall winners, who will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony next week.

Ms McGregor, a 52-year-old grandmother-of-one who lives in Dalkeith, said: “I was delighted, absolutely over the moon and shocked when I found out that our book was in the final. If we won, it would be absolutely tremendous.

“The revised edition was sort of to celebrate reaching the final. There’s some cracking extra stories in it. How we forgot to put the stories about the cleaners in the first edition, I’ll never know, they’re hilarious.

“A lot of things used to get left in the gent’s toilets, especially their knickers, which were a bit worse for wear.

“One time, the cleaners found a pair of boxers with this guy, a jack the lad’s, full name sewn into the label – he must’ve had them since he was about 12. They sealed them in a polythene bag and made out that this chap was going to win something like a raffle in the pub, and they presented him with these smelly knickers in front of the whole pub. It took him down a peg or two.”

The literary award’s patron is Day of the Jackal author Forsyth, who will attend the awards ceremony.

The founding patron is the late Dame Beryl Bainbridge, and Mrs Tweedie and Ms McGregor are also in with a chance of winning the Beryl Bainbridge Award for a first-time author.

Mrs Tweedie, 62, who lives in Tranent, ran various pubs around East Lothian with husband David, including the hugely successful Longniddry Inn, the Aberlady Inn, Musselburgh’s The Burgh and even ventured into Edinburgh, running Tipplers in Bread Street. Ms McGregor, meanwhile, spent eight years running Sam’s in Dalkeith, taking it from a run-down bar into the town’s first proper night venue.

Mrs Tweedie, who now runs a clothes shop in Haddington, said she was “chuffed to bits” to reach the final.

The revised version of the hit book, priced £7.99, is aimed at the Father’s Day market and will be available to buy from tomorrow in Waterstone’s and on Amazon.

To vote, visit www.peoples bookprize.com/finalist.php

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com