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Blog: Merchant Ivory Pints

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Me and Mr S Hewitt had what turned out to be our FINAL Dinosaur Planet rehearsal after work yesterday - we were going to have another on Sunday, but IT WENT SO WELL we decided we didn't need to. HA! Take THAT, rehearsal schedules!

BOUYED UP by our success we headed off to OLYMPIA for the Great British Beer Festival. I hadn't been since the LAST time it was at Olympia, and was commenting to Steve as we arrived that it looked like being a MASS PARADE of CAMRA STEREOTYPES. "No no", he said, worthily, "I'm sure it won't..."

And then we looked around us. As far as the eye could see there were BEER BELLIES, also Utility Waistcoats, Beer-based t-shirts, FACIAL TOPIARY, grey hair and GENTLEMEN of a specific age and demeanour. If this had been the cast for extras for a TV Detective Show SET at a CAMRA event you would have scoffed at how ridiculous it was, but it was REAL. It was GRATE!

CAMRA always seems to be making vague efforts to shake off this sort of image, but i say HEY! CAMRA! Embrace it! It's actually quite nice to go to a thing where people are SO not edgy, not groovy and THEMSELVES that it BECOMES edgy and groovy!

Inside the venue, to be fair, there were a lot more non-Standard CAMRA types and the atmosphere was DELIGHTFUL. I spent a happy few hours stumbling around trying beers, returning to a huge table which Steve's Lot had managed to CLAIM. I FROWNED gently on their insistence on drinking HALVES tho - yes yes, I know it means you can try more beers etc etc but to me this demonstrates a) a distinct lack of COMMITMENT to the beers you choose b) an emphasis on BEER TICKING over getting to sit down for longer between PINTS. Sitting down is important!

Also very much enjoyed by ME was some PICKLED GARLIC (which Steve had mentioned earlier and I had BAULKED at, but which turned out to be LOVELY) and getting RECOGNISED on the way to the loo, when someone shouted "MJ HIBBETT!" and then got embarrassed when I turned round to say hello. OH BOY but i LOVES it when that happens!

INDEED I had SUCH a nice time that I ended up buying a FEZ at the HAT SHOP. This, I think, is a stroke of MARKETING GENIUS: surely a beer festival is the best place EVER to have a hat shop? After a few pints EVERYONE wants a hat!

A pint AFTER buying the hat I said my farewells and headed home. On the tube back I found myself sat next to two other chaps who ALSO had hats on. "Beer festival?" said one of them, and we ended up having a VERY jolly chat all the way to Liverpool Street. Hoorah for HATS, and hoorah for BEER!
posted 8/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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I should be at the GBBF on Friday. I normally notice the fact that the clientele aren't exclusively male, and the males don't all have beer belly etc.
posted 8/8/2012 by Jon Pennycook

My abiding memory of the GBBF (patchy at best) is that the lovely beers were accompanied by the "Half Man Half Biscuit" tune "C.A.M.R.A. Man" being on a revolving loop in my head.
posted 8/8/2012 by Mike Cresswell

all the best people have Fez's - the Doctor, you, my son Josh. you can't beat a good Fez. will you be foing a dramtic rewrite of your next show to include a Fez wearing character?
posted 9/8/2012 by matt

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