Almost British
March 12, 2010

Me at Sunkenkirk, 2006

It isn’t hard to give up beer.

Provided, of course,  you don’t go to any stores that sell decent beers, and you forego reading beer blogs and avoid pubs altogether, even crap pubs because you might end up having a Guinness.

See, it’s easy.

Except what happens when you realize that after 5 years of immigration limbo, this country you’ve been living in has finally adopted you?  Through an arcane, Kafkaesque ritual involving metal benches, bulletproof glass and endless paperwork it has secured you to its bosom as tenderly any bureaucratic behemoth could.

My passport now reads SETTLEMENT, and I can stay.

So you see, I had to plan carefully on that day, because I really, really wanted a beer.  I ended up at the Gunmakers because I knew Jeff would have Old Rosie on and in some twisted logic I felt that drinking cider would allow me to continue my fast with some integrity.  But when Mr. Malting and my friend P both had pints of Old Engine Oil it became harder.  But I persevered, I will have you know. Even when Jesus John showed up, regaling me with tales of Hardcore IPA on cask at the Rake, I did. not. waver.

I think John would have rather been at the London Drinker fest, which was no doubt where Jeff, the Landlord, was.  Last year I attempted to go and couldn’t contemplate standing in the queue which wrapped around the block– glimpses of the interior revealed it to be packed.  After the surreal ordeal at the Border Agency, the last thing I wanted to do was be in a crowd.

But what this means is we are no longer tied to London for work permits, etc.  We can live anywhere in the UK, and I think we are both ready to find a new place.  I am already planning beery pilgrimages of this fair isle, if anyone has some suggestions, I’m getting out my maps.  Those of you in the UK, tell me about your locals.  Which nearby breweries do you favor?  In short, what’s it like where you are?

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.