|Pub just off Old Street, where I occasionally drank
when I worked around the corner in the 1990s for a magazine
that you would get free in WH Smith if you bought a CD or video
Always had an itch to write (I really wanted to say ever since I was a youngster but it grated on me as all cliches should), a scratch that never stopped, a catch of the breath, the handle that paid out words whenever the correct numbers came up, the boots on the ground, the sound of words clanking and clinking and gleaming and teeming like industrious termites. I always had this urge to write. I was perhaps nine or ten or it might have been younger or older when I would read a book and thought, ‘I’d like to do that’ (not ‘I can do better than that’), perhaps in the manner of the young would-be brewer or cheesemaker who saw a process that they wanted to get involved in.
Made-up football teams, fake folklore and then long letters to friends from college with made-up characters carrying on with outrageous schemes; lyrics (and the musical stuff), diaries, the feast of fecklessness that constitutes trying to write fiction, and at last being paid to put words together about this band or that band or whatever was happening and whoever was paying. I was writing.
I don’t know how many words I have written over 30 years, I don’t want to know how many words. But they are still there, these words, swerving all over the place, heaving out somewhere into deep space — is it beer this week or travel or a pub trail that you can do from a train, or perhaps whoever wants some words and is willing to pay for them?
I read late into the night, dreaming of going south in the winter, but knowing I never will, unless it’s an event in Borough; I thread thoughts together and then lose them, invariably, immediately, lacking the consolation of caring about them. Then sometimes the words stick around like good, caring, gentle friends, and you are bolstered and castellated and secure against whatever ails you. That is being a writer, you can spend the currency of words like a Howard Hughes who cares about nothing, for there are always more words, but after so long do they mean anything?
Beer deserves words; deserves sense and sensibility, clarity and also chaos; deserves the quiet moment, but also the noise of disagreement, a disbursement of amusement, the shake-down and takedown of Goliath, the slow, soothing moment of quietness, the momentum of noisiness, the frequent prod and jab against the mighty (and the night), the right way, the wrong way, the railway and the highway, the gateway, the weight of words, the sleight of hand, the three-card trick, the three chord wonder, the longing and the pondering, the sling-your-hook, the hoot of laughter, the slaughter of the innocents. Beer deserves words, as mighty as an overture, as tenacious as the teeth of a terrier, as heartfelt as a squeeze of an elbow, as clear as the universe, as sheer as a rock face before which you tremble and then aim to climb. Beer needs words. Deserves words. It’s all about beer.