London for Heroes
London for HeroesThe Ale Trail – an ale tale
– London für Helden
– Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg, 26/2/2011.
I am the beer whore,
Said my host; I’m going with everyone
For a drink, this minute
Whenever, wherever, never fear!
So I felt thirsty.
Joined in and drank with him,
Who after all had been training
Quite steadily over the years,
And who had earned a fabulous reputation,
Some kind of East End’s palatine,
Joined in and drank with him in this long London night
Drank myself through the city’s Grand crus:
We started of course
With a Royal London,
Tasting offensively malty,
In the finish like an old mop,
And a London Pride
(„Whatever you do take pride“),
That was even maltier
And tasted like …
In the finish—like?
A mangy tomcat?
Like Billy goat?
We took it really seriously and
Thought our arses off,
Eventually the palatine wanted to
Reject it with a shrug,
But then had to admit,
That he from the year dot
Had been shirking from drinking the local real ales,
They seemed fishy from the very first,
Tasted very British at most,
Were incompatible with a continental channel,
Wouldn’t quench a Teuton’s thirst.
But okay, okay, alright,
He was up to every thing.
So, for my sake, he’d be willing to
Pass the whole evening with British beer,
It would be ridiculous if thus we couldn’t
Come down the stretch.
Where were we?
Nursing a London Gold,
(„In a field of its own“)
Sticking bloody malty on our gums
And in the finish …?
But now really all jesting aside!
But all that came into our mind was
Damp old mops.
Damp old mops, never properly scrubbed
While an OAP’s band took positions in the corner
And after greeting lots of grey-
And white haired gents in the audience
(Who later exposed themselves, one by one,
As singers and sequentially
Were allowed to enter the stage and sing
One or two songs from their repertoire;
The official singer of the band
Acted as an emcee that part of
The evening) –,
While an OAP’s band after greeting
Even the grey- and white haired groupies
Intoned the well-known tootle-jazz,
We deliberated over an Abbot Ale,
The brewery called it „casked conditioned beer“,
„When you’re ready you’ll find it“,
The first sip hard as a personal insult,
‘Til the last gulp we assumed
A spruce-needle-flavoured tablet at the bottom of the glass.
Rather Arkell’s wishy-washy JRA then,
A kind of alt-beer-punch for feeding-cup-drinkers
And those who want to join them,
Nothing but empty gulps,
One long hard haul,
We burst out laughing in high dudgeon, and
Because we wouldn’t calm down
I copied word by word from the tap,
Full-bodied as it was.
Because now we were calling the challenge.
Swayin’ and shovin’ had started around us
And in its centre a cheerfully offensive
Doodle-Dirty-Dancing was in full swing,
The singer in charge,
A good-humoured baldhead with a pair of janitor’s glasses,
Was imitating John Travolta,
In slow Mo though,
A pride of well sloshed performing bears in the audience were—
Shouting to the best of their ability and
Militantly fauning everybody askance
Not waggling to the beat—,
Were mimicking him.
We kept sucking for a few tacts
At our Sherlock Holmes Ale
(Did it really intend
To have any taste in the end?),
Put down our glasses
Accurately on their doily
And switched to the next pub.
Because we were calling the challenge.