I don't out much during the week, especially not on Monday. Yesterday was an exception. There aren't many who could drag me out. But Kinky Friedman can.
Who couldn't like a man who called his band The Texas Jewboys?
I've long admired Kinky Friedman as a writer. Witty, humane and with his own particular twist on crime fiction. He casts himself as the detective and his friends as victims, suspects and supporting characters. As his books are stuffed with autobiographical detail, I knew he'd had a career as a country singer. I even knew the titles of many of his songs.
Lucas told me Kinky would be playing the Paradiso. He pays more attention to what's going on music-wise in Amsterdam than I do. I don't have the time. This beer stuff has gradually crowded out my other interests. Music used to play a much more important role in my life.
Look carefully at my desk and you'll see a synthesiser buried underall my books and papers. If you're very unlucky, I might make you listen to some of my music one day. There's about two albums worth. Hippy hop, that's a good one. Dum dum - dum dum dum - dum - dum dum dum dum. It goes like that. Very catchy.
Lucas and I arranged to meet in De Balie, which is almost next door to the Paradiso. Balie is the best bar around the Leidseplein by quite a large margin. It has pleasant interior, isn't full of drunken idiots and has Columbus on tap. This next feature is particularly unusual in Amsterdam: it has a no smoking room. I only know of two others. Though, like everywhere else in town, they've put their prices up. 3.40 euros a Columbus cost me. I'm sure it wasn't more than 3 euros last time I dropped by.
I used go to the Paradiso at least once every fortnight. I can't remember how long it had been since my last visit. There've been changes. Some new stained glass windows. Quite nice. But the bar has been renovated, too. And the beer selection reduced. Heineken Pils and Wieckse Witte is the choice now. A difficult choice. Neither is a beer I would usually drink. Which would I go for? I eventually decided on Wieckse Witte. If it was cold enough and I didn't go looking for it, maybe I wouldn't notice that weird bubblegum flavour that lurks in the background.
It came served like a fruit salad with a slice of orange stuck in it and one of those stomper sticks. I'm not keen on fruit in my beer, but I'm always happy to get of those sticks. That's what I use for degassing my beer at home. I'd been starting to run low on them. Because I'm always tapping out a rhythm with them on my desk, I keep breaking them. At the weekend, I got down to my last one. So I dumped the orange and slipped the stomper stick into my pocket.
Kinky was no disappointment. I laughed, I cried, I had a thoroughly good time. And I was back home by ten. If only I'd had something better to drink, the evening would have been perfect.
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