Monday 22 December 2014

The King of blissful drinking

Brown bottle: I fear a Viz character-like
transformation after this one
Brought to you by Paul Simpson

One of my enduring memories of this year is sitting in an extremely comfy armchair just outside the Sipsmith’s tent at Port Eliot enjoying a quiet moment on a Sunday afternoon and drinking a large Bloody Mary.

The festival itself had been a blast from start to finish. A stress-free drive down from London – accompanied by a tape I couldn’t be arsed changing that consisted of Aztec Camera on one side and Julian Cope on the other – was followed by an efficient tent erection (quiet at the back) and a relatively controlled night on the Thursday.

Friday was altogether a different matter. I believe I beat 'First Pint' Fowler to that title at a shade after 11am, then high-tailed it to the aforementioned gin joint, whereupon I was schooled in the art of Bloody Mary drinking by the delightful Jo and Abi at Ernest Journal. Stayed there for some time, drinking it all in, playing word games and generally becoming ever-more toasted.

The afternoon took a different shape. I cracked open my keg of homemade pale ale, distributed a fair amount, drank a whole lot more myself and promptly fell asleep under a trestle table in the green room backstage at the Caught By The River tent. This momentary period of rest wasn’t to last and I was ushered out of the way I was in, whereupon I sat swapping cheese-related puns with a group consisting of people who to this day I don’t recall, though I fear Andrew Weatherall may have been among them.

Clearly, there was only one thing for it. Head back to Sipsmith’s, drink gin, rant at anyone who’d listen (including someone to whom I’d taken a shine), then stumble off to locate food. That I lasted well into the night is a feat in itself, but the inevitable crash had to come and the following day’s baking under canvas was deserved penance.

Unsurprisingly, Saturday was rather more sedate, though I did manage to meet some lovely people and share in the early hours the most fleeting, briefest moment of what I considered the most genuine affection I'd felt in some time.

But Sunday was the day. A gentle wander along the river, another Bloody Mary, an audience with Julian Cope and then an exquisitely peaceful sit down, smiling like I hadn’t for some months.

A dishevelled-looking man approached, grinning broadly and pointing. I did not know why. Then a sudden flicker of recognition. Paul Simpson (today’s sponsor) wandered up and likened me to a flawed monarch surveying his kingdom in the only way he knew how: through the protective shade of a straw crown, sunglasses, bleary eyes and hidden behind a look of utter self belief. I felt at that moment the most relaxed and utterly contented man alive.

To follow was more mirth, the buying of a drink that might just have sown the seeds of a future book collaboration, some seriously flawed Northern Soul dancing and a high-speed ride through the night on the back of one of the festival’s little buggies; a proper treat.

Driving back to London was considerably less painful than it had been two years previously and the next month was to prove among the most joyful I remember in recent years. Safe to say that Sunday was something pretty special for me.

So cheers, Paul. Hope next year’s proves just as good. Though don't saddle me with one of these, yeah?

Beer: Kernel Imperial Brown Stout
Strength: A fucking royally decadent 10.2%
Smell: A really bloody good vintage port. Oh fuck. This doesn't bode at all well.
Tasting notes: Oh, sweet Jesus, I'm in trouble now. Some baseball bat-weilding miscreant is wandering menacingly down my alley right at me and I can't do a thing about it. The git is twirling it around like it's a Whirling Dervish and is evidently bent on bludgeoning me into malty obvlivion. I freeze. This is fucking frightening. Stuck fast and unable to move, all I can do is watch as the woody, brown club comes timbering down with the most almighty thwack that all my senses are knocked so far into next week they haven't had the time to renew their travelcard. Whole galaxies tumbleweed their ways past as I lie lifeless against the dank concrete, barely conscious and gasping for air like a landed brown trout enmeshed in a primitive landing net. It's pointless even twitching my way riverwards; I'm done for. Await the wooden priest and bid farewell to the world of the living.
Session factor: Just don't. OK? Don't. 
Arbitrary score: 27,714
Sponsor: Paul Simpson

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