Thursday 16 October 2014


I have seen these beers at the break of day. Commonplace, grey, staid and staying in the memory (for the wrongest reasons); a flash and a flush of bubbles on the tongue, a brisket of carbonic acid house on the roof of the mouth, the brief guff of sweet-corn on the nose (shake-a-leg there), crooked lagers croaking for customers in need of non-reflective refreshment. And it’s in this pub there and where these beers grimace at the bar-top, beery yobs leaning at the counter, come-and-drink-us clowns leering and cheering the nature of brinkmanship. And it’s to this pub I retire for a final beer before the night completely begins its progress towards the end. At the bar-top, having scanned the scowls of low-browed brands, a factory-handled Farange of brands that abandoned their homes in Burton, Glasgow, Northampton early one morning, I order a Guinness, a simple action, a stout that is purely one act, one note, irreversible in its decline, but now, at this time of night, in this part of town, it’s a beer that sounds chimes within the soul. Five minutes pass, the beer poured, the foam soared and then stopped and then topped and then passed past the sour-faced brands of crooked lager and I invest myself with a table and chair in the midst of this big chubby-faced club of a pub in which I feel myself both home and alone. A scattering of men, yes it’s mainly men, swapping tales of turmoil on scaffolds, down-he-went-broke-his-leg-like-it-was-an-egg, in a Yorkshire brogue, thick, yeasty, tarry-voiced, a contrast to the draught of Happy emerging like air from a juke-box that stands, hands on hips, bold as brass, beneath an altar-like scene of TV screen, upon which Gareth Bale, Alice-band intact, gurns and turns and shoots…but doesn’t score. Ah, the Guinness, creamy and in the theme of stout, watery coffee, a finish that fails to find a backer, a funder, a clouder, but in this ineluctable moment there’s something about this pub that brands me to it, that makes me want to join in and sing with Pharrell. Happy.

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