What this blog isn't

It's not a Leeds-based exploration of the joys and challenges of shaping the mortar between house-bricks so that the rain runs off without undue damage.
Nor is it about looking at, achieving, or maintaining erections of the male variety. That's what the rest of the internet is for.
It's also not about drawing peoples' attention to the beauty of the Aurora Borealis by indicating it with an extended forefinger
It probably isn't SFW[Safe For Work] either (especially if you work in a church) thanks to the liberal sprinkling of profanities, heresies and blasphemies.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nostalgiorgasm: The Sup of the Gods – Half and Half

I was sixteen years old. It was the summer of 1985. Kate Bush was still do-able, even though she kept running up hills away from us. Prince and Michael Jackson fought the chart-fight among the scattered gaudy shreds of New Romanticism. I still had lots of hair on my noggin and lamentably fine ‘tash bristles that would make a Baleen whale’s teeth look like mammoth tusks.

I was in a Working Men’s Club. It’s gone now, but back then it was still a hub of excitement, activity, ridiculous dance moves from the middle-aged and SERIOUS DRINKING. It was a family do – and like at all family do’s I just tried to keep my head down. I’d found a corner to wait for my then girlfriend and sat with my pint, quietly sipping it as I watched my kin – close and distant- celebrating a wedding in the traditional noisy way. I wasn’t alone for long.

Parting the revellers on a bee-line for my quiet table was a wizened apparition clutching two pint glasses close to his chest. Two pints of the darkest liquid I had ever seen that wasn’t Guinness. He reverentially set the twin pints down on beermats on the table and squeezed in next to me. A deep, grumble grew in his chest as his gap-toothed maw worked slowly on an invisible blockage. Eventually the grumbles became words, and he spoke to me.

“Son….son…son…sunna…sunna, man…sunna.” he said, insistently trying to get my attention.

“I fear thee ancient man in here.” I mumbled back at him. (Yes, I was just as much of a pretentious fuck then. I was just cuter with it.)

“Wha’?” he replied, his confusion turning his entire face into a knot of pallid flesh.

“Never mind, mate.” I responded, hoping to get this encounter over with. “What can I do for you?”

“Whatcha drinkin’?” he asked, nodding down at my pint a few more times than was necessary for me to understand the gesture. I think his head was loose or something.

“Trophy.” I replied quickly. Trophy Bitter was my tipple then and I loved it as much as someone who has never tried more exotic things loves their egg and chips.

“Try this man.” he wheezed. As he held the untouched dark pint up for me I noticed that he was already half way through the other, even though he’d only just started supping a minute or two ago.

Slightly afraid of this octogenarian shambling creature I complied…and had my young mind blown in a way that drugs would struggle to better years later. A rich, delicious, nutty, oaky, hoppy flavour flooded over my taste buds. You know they say milk is a food? Well so was this. Not thick, or over-heavy – just satisfying and somehow filling and warming at the same time.

“My God! What is this stuff?” I gasped, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. I licked the brew from my nanofilament tash hairs. They too were standing on end. If I’d taken the time to look at my pubes, I suspect that they – for an instant – would be poker straight. It was THAT good.

“It’s half and half.” he chuckled back, before succumbing to paroxysms of pleurisy-style coughing that would put an Elizabethan consumptive to shame. When he had recovered, he swigged down the rest of his pint and took the glass from me again. Still laughing, he took a deep draught. “Half Exhibition and half McEwans Best Scotch, sunna…and there’s nowt else like it.”

He was right. I’d tried Scotch on its own and liked it, but this was another thing altogether. This was fucking NECTAR. Somehow the Scotch had been transformed by the mix with Newcastle Exhibition Ale into a binary propellant that shot my senses into orbit. The shambler told me that it was a bit of an old man’s drink these days, but you could still ask for it in pubs and clubs and only the most clueless barman wouldn’t understand your desire.

“Trouble with it is,” he went on amiably “it either preserves yer forever or kills yer before yer fifty. There’s the wife now. I’m off to the bar. See yer later sunna.”

As he moved off into the crowd I shouted after him.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t remember who you are.” I explained sheepishly to this elderly gadgee who had opened my eyes to this amazing brew.

“I’m yer Uncle Bob’s first wife’s brother, Davey.” he informed me, not unkindly.

“But that would make you about…” I halted, unsure of my maths (and family tree too – I didn’t even know he had a first wife).

“Aye, sunna. I’m forty-six. See yer later.”

I sat there stunned. Just then my beautiful blonde beloved walked in and, after greeting my family, came over to me. Smooch greetings ensued and when we were done she asked me if I wanted anything from the bar seeing as she needed the loo.

“Yeah.” I said without hesitation. “Get me a pint of half and half. The barman’ll know what you mean.”

As she wandered back to me with the drinks, the Kershaws man came in the door behind her with his basket of cockles, mussels and assorted snacks.

My joy was complete and overwhelming.

They don’t make Exhibition any more….and yes, I wiped away a little tear when I finished this post

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