Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Real Ale Festival

It wasn’t a giant shredded Wheat. But I think it was wheat, rolled up wheat on the Purbeck hills. Only tabs of acid would of turned them into the breakfast Cereal. I took a puff and passed on the bifter to the others in the back of the car. We were on our way to a real ale festival being held on the Dorset Purbecks over looking the Solent. Unaware to me and my companions was the night of rituals ahead of us.

Now on foot and close to the pub and real ale marquee we headed up a path towards old Harry’s rocks, pass the Christian campers, cub scouts and finally after much deliberation decided on a spot nestled in between a farmers field and a forest rich with life. A dear startled and then darted away in the distance upon our arrival.

After pitching our tents we headed back down the path with school boy excitement. Our host for the evening was Mister Robert a Real Ale Purist and ex English school teacher from Warrington. His knowledge of ale was the second best in the country (only bettered by Mick the Dick a celebrity in the real ale world who has drank over 25,000 beers). Our Mister Robert has drank over 6,000 beers and still standing and breathing has taken us under his out spread wings to literally soak up the festival. After greeting us all he lead us rather school teacher like into the beer garden a top of the cliffs over looking the sea and looking back over the Bournemouth coast. We walked ahead as he counted heads in front (1-2-3-4-5, all present).

Mister Robert proceeded to educate us on beer and brewing techniques. With each lesson we drank a new ale. With each ale that he drank he jotted it down in his book, listing the strength of the beer and the brewery from whence it was made. There were over a 1000 ales to try and Mister Roberts pace was demanding. I kept up only by having a tactical vomit to clear the way for more wheat, barley and hops!

Jimmy Pip a travelling bandsmen turned up in horse and cart with a great torch of fire that he held a loft in one hand and the leather reins of his horse in the other hand. A dwarf hopped off the back and laid down his cape for Jimmy to step off his carriage. He walked up on to stage and the small jester like dwarf followed behind carrying Jimmy’s instruments. When Jimmy played the folk danced and when they danced they drank a plenty too.

Robert scorned a look over at Jimmy and all his merry followers. The five us also looked over longing to join in the high spirits for it looked the gayest of fun. “Bloody sailors and plebeians!” Mister Robert shouted on his feet gesticulating with his silver ale tanker. “That Pip would have to turn up and spoil it for the purists!” None of us dared asked if we could join in. “I bet there all bloody cider drinkers!”

After the final encore (Jimmy did 7 in total) Jimmy ran off into the night with a damsel with buxom chest and Germanic tongue! The roady dwarf jester cleaned up his masters mess and slept on the cart. We were all completely totalled by this stage and being frog marched at gun point back to our tents by Mr Robert. He had drank over a 100 ales in the one night in a desperate attempt to close the gap between him and mick the dick. His mind was not quite right and he was angered by breaking of the rules and drinking of cider!

At the camp on the edge of the cliff we built a fire and were made to sit round it and to drink more, even though our guts were close to bursting. Mister Robert then began ridiculing us by making us adopt funny positions!

But the worst was still to come. A log with red hot burning cinders was removed from the fire, the sky full of exploding fireworks above, we were now being branded. One by one we were made to bend over and receive 50 lashes to the butt! The log reheated in between strikes!

The purist ritual eventually stopped and we retreated to our tents. Mister Roberts was gone by morning and was never to be seen again. Jimmy Pip now has a bastard child growing up in Bavaria. The dwarf still roadies for Jimmy but has also released a solo album in time for Christmas. As for us we have all gone our separate ways but we will never forget the real ale festival that was 2006.

*readers information - this is fiction as are all the charactors in this story.


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