The good news is that breakfast in included again. The not quite so good news is that it’s another paper and plastic job.
It’s pretty much identical to the breakfast in the first hotel. Meaning, there is bacon. Plus scrambled eggs and those potato things. I limit myself to just nine tiny rashers today. I wouldn’t want to be a pig.
My room has a great view of the motorway. I could stare at the view all day, if it weren’t for the weather channel and the adverts for prescription medicines on the TV to distract me.
No motorway journey for me, the conference being downstairs in the hotel. But I don’t rush to get down there. The first item on the agenda is a business meeting, which isn’t really appropriate for me.
Leaving me a valuable opportunity after breakfast to read crap on Twitter while watching crap TV. Good to know I won’t look back on this day with regret when I’m on my deathbed. At least I didn’t miss anything on Twitter that day in San Antonio, I’ll think to myself.
The first bit I turn up for is the Bloody Mary bar. No way I’d miss that. It’s at the wonderfully early time of 9:30. Perfect for warming me up for the day.
“I’ve never had a Bloody Mary before.” I confess to a fellow attendee. “Quite nice, aren’t they?” I continue. “Like an alcoholic soup.”
It is weird I’ve never tried one before. I recount the tale of how one of my old locals in Amsterdam, Rick’s Café, used to have a Bloody Mary happy hour at 8 AM. We’d tip in there sometimes, post-club. But I always went for the Guinness breakfast. Three pints and then home to bed.
They’re about to close up. Damn. “Could you put another shot of vodka in there, please?”
It gets me right in the mood for the day’s first presentation, which on can seaming.
I’ve noticed that all the talks except mine are extremely technical. Which I can live with. After learning more than I’ll ever need to know about attaching lids to cans, we continue with an in-depth look at keg spears. This one really resonates with me personally.
As it covers aspects of my one and only professional brewing job: filling kegs at the Courage plant in Newark (formerly Holes) in the summer of 1975. I genuinely find it all bizarrely fascinating. Sometimes I suspect my level of nerdy interest when it comes to beer is really getting out of hand.
Lunch comes with more beer. Hey, I’m not arguing. I’m first in the queue for the buffet. Leaving less time wasted queuing and more for drinking.
There’s something soothing, yet fascinating, about the technical detail of the presentations. Or perhaps it’s a full belly and a few beers that’s mellowing me out. What the hell – I’m enjoying myself.
I’m on at 3 PM. Which is a good time. The Bloody Mary and hospitality beers have me nicely warmed up. It doesn’t hurt that I gave the talk just two days ago. Helps me pace it better and remember where the hell I am.
I tell a lot more jokes and get some pretty good laughs. Though a couple don’t get much response. The audience seems pretty interested again. There are a decent number of questions. Which thankfully I can answer. Talking to a room of professional brewers can be intimidating for an amateur like me.
Once the after-talk chat is done, I nip up to the hospitality suite for some more beer and chat. I can never get enough of either. Especially when the talk is about beer.
It’s all very relaxed. Which suits me. I’m an informal sort of bloke. Pretty obvious, if you’ve ever seen the way I dress. Charity shop chic, is how I describe my look. Apprentice tramp, according to Dolores. She’s very harsh at times. One of the reasons I’m being so careful with the pennies.
Someone tells me: “A couple of your gags went over people’s heads. They aren’t all as used to British humour as I am.” That’s good to know. I thought maybe my timing was a bit off. Or my jokes were crap. Naah, that couldn’t possibly be true.
We tip – some of us – back downstairs for some evening nosh. It’s all pretty low-key. But with a beer in my hand and someone to talk to, I’m as happy as Barry. Whoever he is.
Dined and dazed I dumble up to my room. To stare dumbly as lights dizz and dazzle along the motorway.
The last of the hotel whisky helps me crawl between the cracks into the cavern of sleep.
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