Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old Faithful, Old Tom, Wobble, Black Bee.

We went to the theatre on Saturday evening : to the Marsden Mechanics Hall to see the splendid Mikron Theatre Company present the last night of their musical "Beer Street". It was written by my friend and fellow Old Gits Luncheon Club member, Mike Lucas. Whilst he was updating the play earlier this year I was able to lend my help and support during the necessary research which underpins such a project. This involved visiting public houses and tasting beer, inter-spaced with talking to brewers and landlords about their trade. : onerous tasks, but someone has to do it in the interests of artistic integrity. Saturday's performance was a memorable evening and a triumph for the actors, writers and directors.

It is sometimes difficult to fully appreciate the poetry of beer. To give you a flavour (a little hoppy but not too powerful) perhaps I can quote from the lyrics of one of the numbers from the show. It sings the praises of many of the grand old ales that have now sadly vanished from pubs and bars across the land, beers with wonderfully evocative names. However, it is not merely a nostalgia trip because at the same time it celebrates the birth of new flavours and new names.

"The winds of change have blown
over Joules beers of Stone,
Oldham Bitter and Ely Brown Ale,
Websters Lifeboat Ale
And St Neot's Paine.
But new flavours grow
Among the old ones that remain.

Nelson's Revenge,
Pit Stops' Grand Prix,
Old Cockle Warmer, Hogs Back TEA,
Cunning Stunt, Dolly Daydream,
Old Faithful, Old Tom, Wobble, Black Bee ....."

It was wonderful stuff and it was enjoyed, of course, with a pint of ale in my hand. Sadly,  Saturday night marked the end of the 2011 Mikron season and whilst next year they will be touring the country again, it will be with a different set of shows. But, who knows, Beer Street might be revived again in a year or two : and with this in mind I will continue to help Mike keep up to date with his research.


  1. It sounds wonderful (although that poem might get into difficulties if recited by James Naughtie*). Reminds me of my father's favourite couplet:

    Look into the pewter pot,
    And see the world as the world is not.


  2. Not a beer drinker myself. Meths, now there's a drink to put hairs on your chest. Now where's my white stick....?

  3. Now that's my kind of research, and definitely my kind of theater. You're a lucky man, Alan!

  4. I never dreamed you were so self-sacrificing!

  5. Your abilities in research assistance are staggeringly inspirational.

  6. Alan, I call that dedication to the cause. How's your back now?

  7. Oh yes! All in the name of good researching, for sure! I completely get that! This year at our great Mn State Fair I did some of that beer tasting myself...you could buy trays of beer samples of our own local brew...some of it was just amazing....others well made me want to hop on to something else! There are so many beers!..but someone somewhere around here may make a show about it too!...although they'd probably feature wine first....!

  8. Val : Almost better now. I have had no twinge so far today so I am about to declare it completely well again.

  9. Since I left California and all decent wine behind, I have turned to the various ales and any time you may need some assistance, please feel to call on me.

  10. I think I'll have a 'Black Sheep' tonight after all that.

  11. I admire your dedication!!

  12. That sounds like a great evening’s entertainment. Well done for being such a dedicated research assistant!

  13. As George Arnold put it;

    With my beer
    I sit,
    While golden moments flit:
    They pass
    Unheeded by:
    And, as they fly,
    Being dry,
    Sit, idly sipping here
    My beer.

    It is clearly the lubricant of contemplation

  14. So if they do decide to tour and they need a stage manager, I'm totally free. I'm also available for research...in case you were wondering!

  15. I bet you thought that entire production was done just for your enjoyment, Alan! :)

  16. Ah, yes, beer is so very poetical...

  17. Beer: a great topic to build a super production around. Sounds like it was humorous.

  18. Ah yes, beer. The ultimate word lubricant. This post runs smoothly, but not silently. I hear your message, loud and clear!

  19. Poetry and ales, good combination. You're right, this poem give me a little bit of beer flavor, delicious!!!

  20. Sounds like it would be right up your alley. "Cunning Stunt" always makes me giggle

  21. What a sacrifice it must have been for you to do such research! Sounds like a grand show.

  22. Now that is exactly your kind of research! :)


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...