Yesterday evening I was invited out to the "members evening" at the local brewery. If you become a member of the brewery - which costs an annual amount - you get discount off beer from the shop on-site, and you get to attend members nights throughout the year. I think they are every few months. Perhaps I should have mentioned that the beer is free and unlimited at members nights.
You might think offering people free and unlimited beer would be a recipe for disaster, but almost astoundingly I have never seen any trouble at the brewery over the years when I have been invited along. I had my own membership for a time years ago, but of course have more important things to spend the money on these days - socks, pants, school shoes, food, and so on.
I think the reason so little trouble erupts at the brewery can be explained by the demographic that walk the mile or so out of town to drink themselves silly. They are largely of a certain age, and more of the "rugby" than "football" supporter stereotype. What do I mean by that? I have been to many football (soccer for those in the US) and rugby matches - both large and small. Unfortunately the brush that tars many football fans appears to be absolutely true - a small minority become violent, obnoxious, abusive maniacs when gathered together, or combined with alcohol. They are the reason football grounds have to segregate the crowd, and often accompany travelling fans to and from the ground with mounted police. Rugby fans on the other hand will happily sit next to opposing fans in the same stand, drink beer with them (at the game - shock horror), and commiserate or congratulate each other on winning or losing.
You never hear rugby crowds singing "The Referee's a Wanker". That might possibly be because they are too drunk to care of course - or because they have been poisoned by half-cooked chips they bought for their children, while missing half the game.
So yes - we stood among the crowd last night, partook of several beverages, listened to a live jazz band, and put the world to rights at some length. Between my third and fourth pints of beer, I decided a beef burger was a very good idea. While standing in the queue, cheese and bacon also became very good ideas - it's funny how that happens. After a couple of hours standing in the cold, trying to convince ourselves that free beer was great, we wandered home again - not before stopping at the brewery shop to buy guilt offerings to take home though.
Who knew there would be such a thing as "Marmalade Vodka" ? I do now, because they lined the miniature bottles up on the checkout, in the perfect place for you to notice them. I had only planned on buying a bottle of wine and some "artisan crisps". The wine was chosen purely based upon the label being interesting - a painted 1920s style coastal scene, similar to those used by transport companies before the war. Oh, and I checked the label to make sure it wasn't desert wine - I'm not quite that stupid.
Somehow a bag of pork scratchins fell into my bag too. It's funny how you'll pretty much eat anything after you've had a few beers.
After getting home, handing over the guilt offerings, and telling stories of the night, I collapsed into the chair in the junk room and discovered Glen Campbell had died.
This morning I found sitting alone in the study room once again, digging through old albums. I suppose in many ways Glen Campbell was a part of my childhood - along with the likes of Don Williams, Merle Haggard, John Denver, and so many more. My Uncle was in the merchant navy when I was young, and would return home several times a year with armfuls of vinyl albums that had accompanied him on his travels. Music from all over the world - music we had never heard before.
My first ever record player was a "Radiogram" - a not inconsiderable piece of furniture handed down from my Grandfather. It combined a vinyl record player, a radio, and a sideboard in one piece of (gigantic) furniture. For several of my early teenage years I would listen to the radio on it, and play the few vinyl records that had been stowed inside it for decades. One of them was the 45 single of "Rinestone Cowboy", by Glen Campbell. When you first switched the record player on, it wouldn't hold a constant speed for the first few moments - we (myself and my brother) would laugh hilariously as Glen Campbell varied between the laughing policeman, and shades of a Benny Hill chase scene.
I inherited lots of vinyl records from family during those years. Everything from old musicals, to a quite bizarre selection of novelty singles from the 1950s and 60s. Oh how we laughed at "Mad Passionate Love" by Bernard Breslaw (and the b-side "You Need Feet"). Looking back, listening to "Alvin's Harmonica", "Sparkie's Magic Piano" and various other idiocy probably explains a lot about the way I turned out. I also listened to the songs from "West Side Story", "Oklahoma", and "Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers" too though.
By now you're probably wondering why I mentioned the rain in the title of this post. It's piddling down outside. It has been all day. It was forecast, therefore we consigned the entire day to quiet activities like watching TV, playing video games, eating cheese and pickle sandwiches, and emptying our head into blog posts.