Things I Learned Today

  • I can blog from the banking citadel in which I work. Wherein most websites are verboten, this one is not.
  • Taking lunch in heels is a bad idea.  (I thought– how hard could it be?  So many of my fellow City  women do it.  I had learned from a fellow City worker that most women in heels wear trainers to lunch, keeping their heels under their desk.  Why did I not do this today?  Maybe I was feeling sassy, or stupid, but I limped back to my desk.)
  • Negotiating the banalities of the office is even harder after a pint.

Today I went to the Blackfriar pub, which is very close to my office.  I passed the Rising Sun, which is the closest pub to me– it  has a grand red corner sign and is on a lovely little windy secret street.  However, every time I go by it is filled with suits.  They are my coworkers, yes, but do I really want to drink with them? Well, being a woman alone, someone who knows no one here,  it would be more like drinking around them. I have tried to rally my pleasant coworkers around the wisdom of the lunchtime pint but they aren’t having it.  I’m on my own.

I usually go to the Blackfriars pub because it’s a nice mix of people and I’ve rarely had a bad pint there.  Plus, even inundated with tourists,  you can always find a seat and it’s lovely inside.  They havea weekly guest ale which I always try.  Today it was a Coach House Blueberry Bitter. I ordered a half but was given a full.  I’m glad I liked it, nay, loved it, but now I’m confronting an afternoon of work a bit tipsy.  Even so, it had a blueberry muffin nose, and was definitely very sweet– cut by a resiny, bitter finish making it a very balanced beer– surprising given the blueberry-pancake finish.  I apologize for comparing this beer to sweet food.  I usually hate that.  If anything the berries in the beer were very present but completely natural and earthy tasting, melding well with the malt and hops of the beer so that it didn’t taste blueberry-flavoured at all.

While I was finishing my pint, my nose in a Gunter Grass novel– more to banish self-consciousness at drinking alone than to actually read, II overheard an American tourist talking to a Brit (she must have been a Brit– she was eating a fish finger sandwich).  The American smelled of cheap perfume which was overwhelming my pint and making me grumpy.  She told the other woman that there are no pubs in America, only bars, and they serve hard alcohol and are “scary”.  She said that she can only buy non-alcoholic beer in her supermarket which made me conclude she must have been from a dry county in the midwest, not dissimilar from where some of my relatives reside. 

It made me sad, and maybe a bit homesick and confused.  The only thing that gave me a glimmer of hope was that she was drinking a dark brown ale, so maybe she was catching on.

14 Responses

  1. By coincidence, I had a pint of the Blueberry at lunch myself. I thought it was one of the best beers I’ve had of late; easily drinkable, balanced and with enough character to make it stand out from the crowd. I couldn’t work out whether it actually had blueberries in (I don’t think so – I’d have thought they’d impart more colour) or whether it simply had the aroma of them.

  2. Hey Jack– that is a coincidence. Where did you have it?

    That’s interesting you mention the color– I was secretly hoping a blue beer would come out of the pump! (But if I drank it would I turn into a giant blueberry like Violent Beauregarde?) When it was golden colored I wondered if the blueberry was just in the name. I wonder what the additive was to give it the flavour/aroma?

  3. It was on at a local chain pubs I meet some old work mates at most Fridays; they usually have a few ales on. I forget the name of the chain.

    Certain yeasts lend floral and fruit notes to beer; especially if you brew at a slightly higher temperature. I’ve never come across blueberry aroma/flavour before though. It’s a mystery?

  4. I hear ya, sister, on the heels. I’ve only recently taken to wearing them. The post-work dilemma – do you keep the heels on and put up with burning soles, or do you surrender to comfort and look like a tw*at in trainers?

    The Blackfriar is a nice pub.

  5. Sometimes, it’s best to have a glass instead of a pint at lunch.

    But I feel your pain; I always bring a scrap of paper and a pen, so I can write. Even if I’ve got nothing to say to myself, writing is usually better than sitting there alone with nothing to do.

  6. Glad you enjoyed the Blueberry. Coach House do some very interesting fruit/spice beers. Personally I think Blueberry and the Pineapple are the best. But if you get a chance, try the Coconut-weird!

    For the record, they add a small amount of blueberries early on and complement this with natural blueberry flavouring later. Hey presto-blueberry (but not blue coloured) flavoured beer.

  7. Hi Boak,

    The heel dilemma– I usually opt for the tw*at look post-work but it is demoralizing!

    In Cali, where I’m from, it’s not really part of the dress code but in London it seems standard– at least in the City where I work.

  8. Hey Grotusque– you are giving me advice regarding drinking at lunch? That’s rich! Haha.

    I asked for a half pint but the poured me a whole pint. This happens a lot, usually when it’s noisy and crowded.

  9. Hi Tyson– I have a friend who is a huge fan of the coconut beer– it always sounded very strange to me but I would try it if I saw it.

    Thanks for the info re how they get the blueberry into the beer!

  10. Ha ha ha! I laughed at many points in this post. Where I work it is strictly forbidden (certainly) to drink on the work premises and (implied) during a lunch break even off premises. When I worked at a different department than I currently do, I made of point of having at least one beer at lunch whenever I ate an establishment that served alcohol, even if this meant drinking Budweiser. It was more about the principal than the beer! I also made it a point to frequent places that served alcohol that many of my co-workers frequented and I made certain to advertise my drinking to them as they (like the chicken shits they are) consumed soft drinks and iced tea. Nothing ever came of it. I became even more bold and began bringing my unlabeled bottles of homebrew to work with my sack lunch, placing my daily bottle of homebrew in the communal break room refrigerator with the story (if asked, never was) of it being homemade rootbeer. Again nothing ever happened. Now that I’m working in a new department in a part of the city where there are virtually no eating establishments within walking distance that serve alcohol I may once again begin bringing homebrew illicitly to work and chilling it in an official company refrigerator and consuming it on company property. FUCK YOU AND YOUR NARROW-MINDED MORAL AUTHORITY! I DO NOT RECOGNIZE YOUR PURITANICAL HEGEMONY!

    I also had to laugh because I am also reading a Gunter Grass novel at work on my lunch breaks! I thought that very curious! Luckily, footwear is a fairly lax point with my employer’s authority over me. I wear an all black (rubber sole, upper, laces, everything is BLACK) pair of high top Adidas and nothing as of yet has been said to me. This is good because I have to walk about 2 miles each way between my house and the bus stop and the bus stop and my place of employment. Comfy shoes are a neccessity! In these situations I always make sure to have an excuse/defense/argument at the ready in case I’m challenged but the strange thing is I rarely am challenged. I guess it’s all those years of societal conditioning, it’s quite difficult to shake. At any rate, tomorrow at lunch: CHEERS!

  11. I can’t walk in heels either, think it’s my flat feet that makes it so hard. Blueberry Bitter sounds lovely. I can only dream of having such lovely pints in pubs in Ireland. Here every pub has the same five beers. Some pubs in Dublin might have one of dem fancy foreign beers. But go down the country and you have even less choice. And I know people think Ireland is great for beer but it isn’t. You try drinking Guinness ALL the time and you get pretty bored of it.

  12. Hey Bob– I wish I had some homebrew to chill in the company fridge. The only thing that is ever in there is 100 little bottles of milk for tea. Throughout the day people “steal” them, thinking they are being sneaky, to take home with them. It’s the weirdest thing.

    Which Gunter Grass novel are you reading? I finished Dog Years but decided to keep it at my desk. As I become more absorbed in it, started to have this affinity with my new job. I think I need to keep it there for reference.

    The cultural conditioning is hard to shake! Office culture is so alien to me, I feel like I’m breaking rules just by showing up.

    I hear you about the 2 mile walk & LA buses, etc. Transport is better here but I’m crammed in a tube car with too many other humans– I’d rather walk it if I could, and throw the heels in the river.

  13. Hey Laura, I think anyone who does a lot of walking– hiking, etc.– it’s just that much more painful to try to get somewhere while balancing on the balls of your feet when you are used to striding, etc. I know you like to hike, too. I’m afraid to get used to the heels, really.

    I really like the Messrrs Maguire pub in Dublin, and the Porterhouse was definitely OK, but as I traveled around Ireland I just drank Guinness, as you say– that’s really all there was. I thought maybe being a tourist I was missing something but if you confirm it I’m thinking, yeah– homebrewing starts to make a lot of sense!

  14. I was reading “Cat and Mouse” but I’ve finished it. Now I’m reading “Tropic of Capricorn” by Henry Miller. My coworkers think I’m a bookworm. Unfortunately, that’s says more about them than it does me. I don’t think any of them have read a book since high school.

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