Wednesday 2 December 2015

What keeps you awake

Hats off: a spritely stout that's
maddeningly moreish
So tired. Wired. Distinctly uninspired. Despite being weary, lethargic and frankly not all there, I seem to have gained a spring in my step that I just can’t explain.

Whether through over-excitement about Christmas or due to a lingering worry in my heart, I could barely sleep at all last night. Took ages to drop off then pinged awake at 2am on the back of a faintly disturbing dream. Barely to even snooze again before it was time to get up.

In the past few years while wrestling with insomnia, I’ve taken to having the radio on at a low volume on my bedside table. Hearing the varied voices of the World Service warbling away in the background being infinitely preferable to the consistently troubled voices in my own head wittering and sniping their way through another sleepless night.

Most of the time, it works perfectly. Some suitably dull programme about the amount of arable land per head of population in Upper Volta (or some such crud) will usually have me drifting off soon enough.

But as if saving itself up to be a part of some perfect insomnia storm, the World Service was incredibly interesting listening last night. From 2am till way past 5.30am, it was one thing after another: an interview with a woman bringing justice to Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Tracy Chapman on how she became famous overnight, Hardtalk with the leader of the Rwandan Democratic Green Party, a feature on new technology in publishing and a programme on civil unrest in Burundi.

Now I realise on the face of it not all those subjects sound desperately riveting. But to me, during those hours, they were genuinely fascinating. Obviously. And clearly much more important than getting a decent night’s sleep.

By rights, I should be utterly knackered now. Though not too taxing a day at work, there’s still been plenty to do. But for some reason, I’ve had more natural exuberance today than for some considerable time.

And I can’t work it out. There is no reason for it. I haven’t had anything approaching good news. Various communications sent have fallen on unresponsive ears. No damsel in shining, err, armour has come to sweep me off my feet and whisk me away to her castle. My numbers have certainly not come up.

So it must be this. Maybe the mere act of putting this annual blog together has kept my energy levels up on a day when I really ought to have been completely out of gas.

Or maybe it was the prospect of drinking this beer, which is from a brewery new to me. Perhaps that's it. The fleeting whiff of something unpredictable, something new, something surprising. Smelling salts for the day.

Beer: Mad Hatter Brewing Nightmare on Bold St
Strength: An interestingly poised 5.3%
Smell: Coffee ice cream, Bailey's and just-baked rye bread smeared in Marmite.
Tasting notes: This is really up my street. So much so that it tastes exactly like the tribute to Kernel's Export India Porter I brewed last year. And that is no bad thing. There's a pretence at sweet, thick, creamy maltiness as you first drink, but don't let that fool you. It won't last. Like an ill-advised love affair, this one's about to turn sour. Not sour as in 'off', mind. Just dark, bitter, cold, unfeeling and with a steely temper quite unlike that which greeted you at the outset. As the spiteful words and cold looks of hoppy tang rain down on your unsuspecting tongue, you yearn for release. But it won't come. No. It'll linger long till you're ready for another swig of succour. And glutton for punishment, you're unable to resist its siren call.
Session factor: Not particularly high. I mean, I'm all for a good time and that, which this more than provides, but these kind of delights need only be encountered every so often.
Arbitrary score: 151,211

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