Immigrant Dreaming
July 3, 2008

flags, originally uploaded by MarcusB*.

Last night I dreamed I was in a pub that was being renovated but was still open to the public. It was a mess of plaster and fallen beams. They had a huge painted Union Jack and it said under it, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY YANKS. Across the middle stripe of the flag BEER was scrawled and then crossed out and MOULD was written over it. For some reason in the dream I thought this was amusing.

The pub is crowded with locals, mostly working class men. I get to the landlord and before I can even order a beer he presents me with one. It’s a pint glass full of lager with a little juice glass inside with lemonade (the British kind which is like 7up). It’s like some shandy shooter thing. There’s ice in the glass and I’m pretty sure he’s made this for me because I’m “Female” and a “Yank”.

He said, “I can highly recommend this,” and he winked.
“Id rather just have beer.” At this point Mr. Malting is with me and is embarrassed that I don’t just drink it. The landlord takes the juice glass of lemonade out with his hand and hands me the pint. It is very warm and the ice cubes in it are melting fast. I realize he’s given me warm, flat Becks.

I sit down miserably and this guy pulls up a chair. He looks like an old school ska/skinhead guy with sideburns and tall docs and garters and a Fred Perry shirt. He slaps down this little stein, puts his hands behind his head and smiles at me like he thinks it’s really funny.

“What are you drinking then?” I ask him and he pushes the stein towards me. I drink from it, having to move cocktail straws out of the way. Before I can even take a sip he’s trying to take it back, “Hey, whoa, slow down!” I barely get to taste it before he takes it away but it’s really good beer. He wants me to guess what it is and I start going on about cumin and how there is a cumin note in it but he doesn’t know what cumin is. “Like in Indian cooking,” and this offends him greatly. Then I happily wake up.

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Soap Opera Ale
June 25, 2008

Kind of like the mermaid in Splash, when I moved to London I watched the telly to acculturate.  I found myself addicted to Eastenders.  After a year of rationalizing my affection for the Square, I forced myself to give it up.

It’s been a couple years since I went cold turkey but the other day I watched the omnibus on the BBC iPlayer.  Real ale is featured for a brief moment when Vinnie and Shirley put on a “Best of British” party at the Queen Vic, and the whole place is decked out in British Flags (No St. George flags to be seen– so much for realism).  There’s a little cask sitting on the bar and Shirley asks Vinnie disparagingly if anyone is drinking the “Speckled whatever” he’s got on.

Later in the episode there’s a dramatic fire and the British flag is used to catch Mickey as his sister Dawn pushes him, unconscious, from the burning building.  Later, the good-for-nothing Keith actually saves his daughter while wrapped in the same flag.  I thought maybe Shirley would use the cask of Speckled Whatever to douse the flames since it wasn’t selling in the pub, but the beer was only making a cameo.