21 May 2008

Nul Pints

I wasn't being a cheapskate when I asked the volunteer on the gate of the 35th annual CamBeerFest whether I could have a discount because I didn't drink beer, but a challenge is always fun. She asked whether I was driving and, of course, had I said yes, I probably would have got in free but tricking CAMRA out of their £3.50 seemed a little tight so I paid up. Naturally, I made a beeline for the wine stall, which was offering Vin de Pont du Cam. "What reds do you have?" I asked. Sadly, they only did one, although at least this year they didn't try to persuade me to drink white instead, like last year, only for me to end up hating the white. This red was OK, although I would have preferred a good Côtes du Rhône.

The main thing I felt I was missing out on in not drinking beer was not getting to order any silly-named drinks: Mutts Nutts, Pump Fiction and Bear Ass, for example. These remind me of a t-shirt I used to own from a pub in Rome called the Drunken Ship (frequented almost entirely by English, public school kids and rich Americans on spring break), which read something like, "The Drunken Ship...Where to get the best head in Rome"; needless to say, I found this hilarious when I was 16. I was almost tempted to order the Espresso Stout ("strong, rich stout, loaded with expresso [sic.] coffee flavours") but I knew I would absolutely hate it. I did manage a sip of someone's mead, which was horribly sickly (though still better than beer).

Despite a certain football match, the queues at the food stalls were still pretty horrific, especially given that I, on a large glass of wine and an empty stomach, was feeling pretty hypoglycaemic. The sign on the burger van promised (of their jumbo hot dogs) "nine inches of meaty heaven." The man in front of me was quite angrily complaining to the poor woman working behind the grills about the length of his hot dog ("it's not even eight inches, let alone nine") until I made some snide comment about how it was usually men who exaggerated the length of their hot dogs, which made the man laugh (albeit dirtily) and leave the woman alone. I can sympathise with her, given that when I was 14, I used to spend most three-day weekends working catering at various craft fairs held around The Shire. It's funny how ten hours * three days @ £3 per hour = £90 seems like almost infinite amounts of money when you're 14, even if those weekends were hell.

Despite our dalliances in the BeerFest, we still made it over to King Street for a pub quiz and - better - actually came second, which was the best performance to date, earning us a bottle of wine, even if we didn't know the sultan killed by Sharpe or Winston Churchill's middle name.

What larks. Ambling home over Rapists' Common, I saw plenty of drunken people barely making it home from CamBeerFest, including an unfortunate blonde woman who was unceremoniously vomiting over the footbridge into the river. Oh, Nowheresville sure is a classy town!

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