Sunday 21 December 2014

Rumble from the jungle

Glass act: once poured, this ale performs
some quite hilarious theatricals
Brought to you by Michael Heap

Borborygmus. An excellent onomatopaeic word to describe the gugling noise caused by movemet of gas and fluid in the intestines. From the ancient Greek borborygmós.

It's a sound I've been getting used to recently as my diet has become ever more eclectic since the summer months. And in particular this month when richer food and expensive alcohol have combined to noisy effect.

Funny thing is, I'd heard the sound a few months before learning the word. I'm still taking as much time as the trek itself reading Patrick Leigh Fermor's The Broken Road, the third in his trilogy describing his walk from the Hook of Holland to what was then Constantinople. In it, he describes the sound of a Romanian hotel's plumbing system as a borborygmus and I had to look it up. Just perfect.

Looking up words has been a bit of a theme of late. I had to learn a whole new vocabulary while reading Nairn's London, a terrific guidebook to London in the early 1960s. The architectural features carry tremendously evocative names such as spandrels, entasis, reredos, corbels and soffits. I knew none of them before and had to make electronic notes so I'd remember what each meant.

It seems that's been the overriding theme this year. Learning new things or how to cope better with age-old issues that have returned to trouble me again.

For the most part, that's been good. Learning how to brew beer is a terrific skill to have acquired. Likewise, there's been a good deal of professional development that's meant my usual gruff temperament and tendency to speak my mind has been mostly overlooked by the powers that are at work. And I learned how to appreciate Bloody Marys for the first time ever; a tremendous development, I think.

Some things you just don't want to learn, though. Like how difficult it is to carry a car battery a mile or so while riding a bike. Or how easy it is to worry about largely inconsequential things. Or what its like to spend a month in a state of semi-permanent anxiety and paralysis.

While in many ways it's been an excellent year, I'm glad it's coming to a close – like I'm glad to be almost there with the calendar too. It will be good to look again at things from the perspective of a new year in a similar way that it will be nice to regain some clarity of thought afforded by a more sober couple of weeks.

Still a few to go, though. We're not there by a long chalk.

Beer: Mikkeller 'Ale'
Strength: A quite spritely 5.8%
Smell: A gargantuan gorilla made entirely out of grapefruit, but which has cheesy feet.
Tasting notes: Quite disarmingly charming. That is, once it's ripped your arms, legs and head off and shat pure citric acid down your neck. It's a minor miracle your senses can still operate; must be purely on impulse rather than actual feeling, because essentially, you are quite dead. But on feeling a tiny pang of guilt, said gorilla – in a way that reminds you of a child sheepishly trying to put the limbs back onto a daddy longlegs it's just dismembered – tries to make amends by forcing your head back on and giving it a good pat, as if it thinks you're made of plasticine and that this will help. It doesn't, of course. All that will help is if you have another swig.
Session factor: So outrageously high it'd give Danny out of Withnail & I a run for his money.
Arbitrary score: 61,114
Sponsor: Michael Heap

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