I spent a moment deliberating whether to go for lager or beer. The pub was warm and cosy, and after a hard day I needed the comfort of an ale. I ordered a pint of Old Speckled Hen. I found myself a table, and settled down to watch the football.
As my beer settled, I watched it lovingly with anticipation. Then I took my first sip. My gosh. The beer was off. It tasted rancid, bitter like vinegar and very, very off. I took it back to the bar, which was a pretty bold move for someone who spends most of his waking hours tiptoeing around trying not to upset anyone.
"I don't like to cause a fuss", I said apologetically, "but this beer is off."
The barman took a sip, and without the slightest inkling of a flinch said "That's Hen alright. It's not Stella y'know."
I did know. I was torn between employing sarcasm or smugness. Sarcasm is, as we all know, the highest form of wit and the language of royalty. Smugness, on the other hand, is incredibly satisfying, especially when it successfully portrays an attitude of "I don't care one bit you idiot". I opted for some light sarcasm.
"Isn't it?", I asked, eyebrows raised to the ceiling.
"If you're not happy with it, take it to the Gov'", he said, pointing across the room. Reclining at a table in the corner, surrounded by women, was the Gov', resplendent in all his glory. The Gov' was a giant of a man, clad in a huge white tracksuit, and wearing more bling than Ali-G on a Saturday night. He reminded me of a cross between Henry VIII and Ali-G.
As I embarked on the long, lonely journey across the room I was conscious of being watched. Conversations were put on hold, heads were turned, and the jukebox stopped playing (or did I imagine that?).
"You alright?", the Gov' asked.
"My beer's off", I said, "the barman told me to bring it to you if I wasn't happy with it."
The Gov' smiled, reached for my pint and took a huge gulp. What followed was priceless. His formally smiling face was contorted beyond recognition. The Gov' slowly cricked his neck to one side, just like the policeman in Dumb & Dumber after drinking pee from a beer bottle.
"I'll go get the barrel changed for you", he said, lifting his huge frame off the chair. I went back to the bar. "I'll have a Stella instead."
A helping hand, ca. 1910s
3 hours ago