Saturday, 1 June 2013

I lost my Private Eye

on Thursday night.

I'm kicking myself. It had turned up late (bloddy useless modern postal services) and I'd only been reading it one day. I was still on Street of Shame. Bugger. I missed Yobs. And Dumb Britain. Bum, bum, bum.

If only I weren't to blame.

I don't go out much on week nights any more. There's a shop in Amstelveen I walk past every day chomping a sandwich called "Listen to your Body". I have. It said: "Don't go on the piss when you have to work the next day." Thursday night I turned up the music and pretended I couldn't hear my killjoy body.

As part of Dutch Beer Week, a new beer was being launched: Amsterdamsch Bruin*. That got my attention. Old-fashioned spelling and brown in the name. I'm a sucker for dark beer. Even when it's 4.7% ABV. Pre-war Mild, was my first thought.

That brought back memories of my best ever dream. When I was in wartime Newark, on a pub crawl, drinking Mild. My heaven (if you're listening, god). I had to drop by Wildeman to give it a try.

Come Thursday morning, I was too busy OCRing articles from the Journal of the Institue of Brewing to remember to leave my briefcase at home. I'd need to go directly to town from work. How could I carry the shopping and my briefcase?

It's great having a Marks & Spencer in Amsterdam again. Crisps, crumpets, pork pies and Scotch eggs for the kids; pork pies, crisps, crumpets, Scotch eggs and joints of meat for me. Finally a choice of something to roast on Sunday. And bagels for Dolores.

Coupled with the satellite dish picking up all the British channels, it's no wonder Tarquin** thinks he's in the UK.

The health food . . .

Sorry. I forgot to tell you why I wanted to go to Marks in the week.  A deciding factor in me attending the Wildeman event.

I assuage my guilt for doing eff all domestically by loading up with goodies at M & S on a Saturday. It fits in nicely with a few afternoon beers.

But Saturday is my mate Will's annual birthday barbecue. It's a great event, because my kids are invited. They've not broken anything yet, which is a sign of how much they like Will. Or that they don't want to miss out on the opportunity of playing with fire.

Being otherwise occupied on Saturday, I needed to raid Marks earlier. Combining it with the beer launch made total sense.

I was in and out of Marks quicker than expected, but more laden down. Two bags stuffed with shopping and my stupid briefcase. Stupid because I only use it to carry a banana and Private Eye to work.

Overloaded with bags I was glad to find not only a free seat in Wildeman, but one with plenty of space to stash away my bags. I'd arranged to see Mike at about 18:30, but my unexpectedly quick sweep through Marks meant  I'd arrived half an hour early. No problem. I could read my Private Eye while I waited.

The Amsterdamsch Bruin hadn't been tapped. But they did have a Dutch cask beer. Oedipus Pale Ale***, I think it was called. Full of those fancy modern hops, but low ABV (4%) and lightly carbonated. Went down a treat. Made me realise what I miss most about cask beer - being able to gulp greedy great gobs of beer in one go. Three gulps and gone.

While I was at the bar waiting to get a second pint, I noticed an American bloke standing next to me reading the Lambik menu. I couldn't help but peek at the prices. Were they for a crate or a single bottle?

"Man, look at those prices." I couldn't help saying to American chav.

"Seem very reasonable to me."

"What? It used to be much cheaper. I blame you Americans. Since you lot noticed Lambik the prices have rocketed."

Charmed by my insightful summation of Lambik pricing and its causes, we got chatting. We were still standing at the bar when Mike turned up. Irritatingly, right about when arranged.

I never did get back to my seat. We stood at the bar, had a free glass or two of Amterdamsch Bruin  (OK, but could do with a bit more malt character for my taste) and did what blokes do it bars. Talk shit and drink.

When it was time to leave, I paid, picked up my bags and pissed off to the tram stop.

I was half way home when I realised I didn't have my Private Eye. I'd left it on the table when I went to the bar to buy that second beer.

What am I going to read on the tram to work next week?

* It 's collaborative beer of Amsterdam breweries De Prael and Het Ij.
** A joke I can't explain for fear of a police raid. The kids know what I mean.
*** Oedipus seems to be a new Amsterdam brewery that had escaped my notice. I'm really getting out of touch.

No comments: