I rise at nine, wondering where my cup of tea is.
Ah, that’s the answer. Dave isn’t up yet. That’s a bit of a bummer. I fancy a cup of tea. I make do with a pint of Red Barrel instead. It’s only 3.7% ABV so perfectly fine as a breakfast beer.
I try to get David’s telly to work while I’m waiting for everyone to get up. It’s harder than it sounds. He has multiple satellite and cable boxes. A bit of fiddling does produce a picture. I think just through the TV itself.
The kids come down and I get them to help with the television. They manage to get the cable working. Brilliant. Now we can put the Hitler channel on. Which is what the kids do.
Dave finally drags his lazy arse downstairs and makes us some tea. The kids are very keen on tea, too. Must be their English genes. Though Dolores is quite partial to a cuppa as well. I fire up the grill and get the bacon cooking.
“How black do you want your bacon, Lexie.”
“Not black at all.”
“Just a little bit black, then?”
“No, not black, dad. Can you be serious for a minute.”
“How black do you want your bacon, Andrew.”
“Shut up about the black shit, dad.”
“Someone’s a Mr. Grumpy Trousers this morning.”
“Just make my sandwich, dad.”
My own bacon I cook a lovely shade of crispy golden black. Just how I like it.
Dave puts on a French quiz show. He’s got himself a French satellite box. It’s so he can keep up his French. Not a bad idea. I’d do it myself if I had any arsing left in me.
Henry is supposed to come and pick us up at 11:30. I’m amazed when the doorbell rings at 11:29.
“Henry’s on time, for once.”
Except he isn’t. It’s my sister Margaret.
I mention our encounter with the teenage barman in Spoons. “He looks about fourteen”, I say.
Margaret knows him, as she also frequents Spoon. “He’s 21.”
“I know. I thought he was still at school, too. He wouldn’t be much use if things kicked off. Though the barmaids can sort people out. The one’s a big lass.”
What an exotic place Newark is. So much fun. If you don’t have to live there.
Henry rings to say he’s had to something vague connected with the brewery. More likely he’s been sat on his arse listening to Radio 4. The plan is now to get here at 13:30. I fetch myself another pint of Red Barrel.
“Fancy a beer, lads?”
“It’s a bit early for me.” Andrew replies.
“But it’s almost twelve.”
“Still early for me.”
That’s true. Before he had a job he was rarely out of bed in the morning.
I while away the time waiting for Henry with more Red Barrel. Alexei joins me after a while.
I decide to explain a little about the beer he’s drinking. “It’s the classic Evil Keg beer. Do you know what that means?”
“No. And I don’t care. Can you let me drink my beer in peace, dad?”
I persist “Evil Keg is . . . . “
“Daaad, I told you. I don’t care. Just shut up about that crap”
Amazingly, Henry actually tuns up approximately on time. It’s Andrew’s turn to ride in the back. At least it’s not mine. My poor old bones aren’t up to that sort of thing. As I keep telling the kids.
Henry’s lucky to have a house with several sizeable outbuildings. Including an old barn, which now houses his brewery. I’m surprised how neat and tidy it all his. With the usual shiny things shining shiningly. Not much more you can say about them, really.
While we’re admiring the shiny things, Phil Dale and his wife Annick turn up with a dog and two chickens. I can’t have seen them for 30 years. They also live in Collingham.
The chickens aren’t live chickens, but roasted ones. I thought we’d just come to take a look at the brewery. It seems like there’s going to be some sort of party. That’s confirmed when Baz, his builder and brewing assistant, arrives accompanied by his girlfriend. Then Spook, someone else I haven’t seen for decades.
Henry has a couple of barrels set up in his tasting room. Which is half of the old plough-making workshop. Where there are a variety of chairs and settees, in various state of dilapidation. The building is full of, er, old crap. Weird old tools, handmade work benches and lots of stuff I can’t recognise. Rustic, you might call it, if you were being kind.
Lexie is keen to see Henry’s cock. Sorry, that’s come across badly. I mean the feathered type of cock, which is in one of the many outbuildings. It’s pretty aggressive and scary. Not sure why Henry has it, given he’s a vegetarian.
Steve, a former colleague of Henry from his teaching days, turns up with some sort of insanity pepper. 2.5 million scovilles. He persuades Andrew to eat a little piece.
“It’s not that bad,” he says at first. It doesn’t last long. Soon he gasping for milk. It’s a while before the sweating subsides.
Amazingly, Alexei gives it a try, too. With exactly the same effect. Me? I’m not daft enough to let a pepper like that anywhere near my mouth.
One of the casks contains William Younger 80/-. My recipe, obviously. It’s pretty nice, though so heavily conditioned it’s hard to pour a full pint. Lexie struggles with the tap and gets beer all over the floor. Not to worry. It’s not as if it will add substantially to the mess.
“You’ve got lovely plums, Henry.” I remark. The fruit I mean. Which he does. Really tasty ones. “You should pick them before they fall off and rot.”
He doesn’t seem moved to action. “Get yourself a still, then it doesn’t matter if your fruit gets overripe.”
Henry replies: “I’ve got some home-made spirit from Portugal. Do you fancy trying it? I’ll warn you it’s a bit rough.”
This is the point where things start getting out of hand.
“It’s not that rough. I’ve had much worse. Jonge Jenever is like drinking paintstripper.”
“I think I’ve still got some Lagavullin somewhere.”
Henry returns with a bottle of Lagavullin, which is about a quarter full. I do love me Lagavullin.
Things then get blurry. A bit like this photo.
We adjourn to Phil and Annick’s place. Which has a garden just slightly smaller than Wales. We drink more beer.
At some point we take a taxi back to Dave’s. Not that I can really remember it. Funnily enough, I have no trouble falling asleep. Let’s see what state the kids are in tomorrow.
Louis Wehle: Founder of Post-Repeal Genesee Brewery - I’m going to set down some thoughts on Louis A. Wehle’s c.1960 book, This was my Life. It was self-published and privately distributed as far as I can tell...
2 hours ago