Thursday, 10 December 2009

Elephants in Rooms

We're finally back at Beer Towers after our northern leg of the pre-Xmas rellies tour and Tuesday night's opening of the wonderful new bar at Sheffield Station, during which I discovered my new favourite beer - a black IPA called Raven by Thornbridge.  I also learned a very valuable lesson which is that thou shalt not drink Raven all night, even if it is in half pints, if thou dost not want the hangover to end all hangovers the next day.  Not even a whole jug of coffee, 2 orange juices, baked beans on toast, cornflakes with sugar on them, 4 jelly babies, half a bag of Maltesers and a bottle of Lucozade helped.  And I wonder why I need to go on a diet...

Anyway, what a week it's been, what with me becoming the first lady of beer writing and all, even though I missed the Twitter update announcing it as I was watching the re-run of Strictly Come Dancing.  Lovely news about Mr PBBB (or Mr PBBWOTY) winning a gold tankard - just what we need - and, even lovelier, the spondoolies that come with the award.  Some people might think that a cash prize gives them the opportunity to treat their lovely 'the wife' and in thus doing wipe out some of the accrued debt they've earned over a year's worth of beeriness....see what you think.

A couple of months ago, the DAY OF THE DEADLINE FOR THE AWARDS, to be precise, Mr PBBB asked me if I'd mind photocopying his entries and 'popping them in the post', as he was off to a beer tasting.  Seriously.

The last time I stepped in to get his submission sorted out was when he was on a ship without photocopier, stapler, postal service, that sort of thing.  That year, he'd been reasonably productive and had some trade articles, a couple of national pieces and that was about it.  Yet it still took 2 people most of a day to photocopy and collate the 4 separate packs that are required for the judges.

This year, Mr PBBB's been much more productive than that.  Much, much more productive.  When announcing the winner, Zak Avery mentioned the 'elephant in the room' which was the sheer volume and quality of one particular entry.  Indeed it was, Zak, indeed it was.  We had 5-page articles that started on a right-hand page, followed over a double-page spread then finished in a couple of spurts between full page ads that we obviously didn't want to replicate.  We had the gargantuan weight of his blog: taking on the BBC, waxing lyrical about some beers, berating Alistair Darling, raising the issue of neo-prohibitionism, celebrating bar name it.  We had a year's worth of Publican columns.  We had his book, which luckily I didn't have to photocopy as we had a few knocking round the house.

Being the supportive wife I sometimes am if I'm offered a decent enough bribe, I very grudgingly agreed and cancelled the rest of my plans for the day.

I started at the newsagent round the corner, who Mr PBBB said was 'lovely and very helpful'.  That particular gentleman must have had the day off: I was cramped in the back of the shop with a very old and wonky b&w photocopier with no place to put my bag, no surface on which to rest either the 'to copy' pile or the 'have copied' pile, a surly and unhelpful replacement newsagent and some of the most irritating fellow customers in the world.  First there was the loud shouty girl who JUST WANTED TO PHOTOCOPY HER CV INNIT so I let her interrupt my gargantuan task to do so, then the elderly West Indian gentleman who 'just wanted to copy a form'.  I swear it would have been faster to train up some apprentices to recreate it in copperplate script.  First he didn't know which way to place the paper on the scanner, then he didn't know which button to press, then he forgot which side of the form he'd already copied, during which time he'd re-forgotten the first two lessons in how to photocopy, then just as I thought he might nearly be finished, he answered his phone and engaged in a lengthy conversation about his bowels.  I'm honestly not kidding.

By this time, having pretty much lost the will to live, as well as two whole hours of my life, I phoned Mr PBBB to do some yelling.

He suggested I take the whole thing to the photocopying shop in Islington, which I grudgingly accepted was a Very Good Idea Indeed, and more practical than my idea, which had involved quite a lot of inserting of piles of articles and blog entries into his underpants.  The people in the photocopying shop were quite surprised.  They looked at the pile of entries, my complicated instructions about which bits went where, looked at me with trepidation then looked back at the pile.  "Are you sure?" they said.  "It'll cost a fortune.  And it won't be ready until about 4."

My mental health and the state of our marriage on the line, I said 'It's FINE.  And I'll see you at 4.'

At 2 minutes past 4 and £130 lighter, yes you read it right, £130 lighter, I was in Islington Library with a stapler, a huge box, some paper folders and 88 minutes to get it all collated, in the right folders, up to the Post Office where there hopefully wouldn't be a queue ha ha ha and registered for next day guaranteed delivery.

At 50 minutes past 4, with all the above looking distinctly unlikely, SURROUNDED by more photocopies than I ever want to see again and with my stress levels elevated to somewhere near Jupiter, I got a phone call.  "Hi lovely, how are you?" For a clever man, Mr PBBB sometimes astonishes me. "Anyway," he continued quickly, as he heard my large and dangerous intake of breath, "I've got good news which you might think is also bad news but it really isn't." At this point, all bets about him winning ANYTHING writerly were off.  "What?" I snapped.  He replied "The deadline's been put back til next Wednesday."

So, I'm thinking that the prize money that accompanies the Michael Jackson Beer Writer of the Year Award (which always prompts a bewildered response amongst those who haven't heard of the other Michael Jackson) might go some way to buttering me up in time for Christmas which I've just realised makes me sound like a turkey.

Suggestions on a postcard welcome.

And for goodness' sake don't tell Mr PBBB, but I'm so proud of him that I'd do it all over again...


  1. 'Not even a whole jug of coffee, 2 orange juices, baked beans on toast, cornflakes with sugar on them, 4 jelly babies, half a bag of Maltesers and a bottle of Lucozade helped. And I wonder why I need to go on a diet...'

    Hmmm, ever tried water instead ? Good old plain tap water, and plenty of it ! Dehydration always plays a sizeable part in hangovers, and a good water supply will also help one's kidneys do their job.
    Which also means reaching for coffee is not too good an hangover cure, as it is know to dehydrate the body further.

  2. Laurent you are so right. I think I might get H20 tattooed on my hand, just where the joint of my thumb and index finger meet, thus making it impossible to ignore when I'm lifting a glass to my mouth...

  3. Hmmmm, isn't a tattoo a bit on the radical side ?
    I mean, people seeing that H2O tattoo on your hand might mistake it for some viral ad for a new mobile phone operator or summat. ;oD

    What about little Carroll-esque "drink me" signs on the kitchen tap ?

  4. Great post :-) I had one of those hangovers this morning owing to too much free Abbot Reserve at the opening of a new Wetherspoons last night... oops! Congrats to Mr PBBB, and much kudos to you for all the paperwork!