many people, I didn't have my first full pint until I was
18, (34 now). I was really looking forward to it and so
when I turned 18 I headed to the Off License, (bottom of
the Limestone Road, Belfast for you Norn Iron readers),
all growed up like and asked for some Carlsberg, as that's
what I'd seen advertised on TV as being "probably the
best lager in the world." I thought I'd start with
the best, it was my first after all and I'd hate to be disappointed!
shop assistant asked "Special Brew?" I thought
"wow they have a special version of what's probably
the best lager in the world." So I bought four of those,
some lesser "probably not the best lager in the world,"
stuff, some Guinness and a bottle or two of something nice
for mum and dad and duly set off home.
pressies were handed out and I sat down for what was surely
going to a momentous taste sensation, I had been waiting
18 years for this and here it was upon me. I sat on the
floor with my back against the sofa, facing the TV and opened
up the tin, savoring the pleasing "fssst" sound
that just seemed to enhance the moment. I raised the tin
to my lips and took a long slow drink. I swirled the almost
syrupy liquor around in my mouth, searching its every nuance
of flavour for what seemed an eternity before slowing swallowing
it down. It tasted of...something. Looking back I probably
felt a deep sadness for all those other "not the best
lager in the world" drinks because if this was the
best, they must be truly minging.
quickly knocked back the tin and nearing the bottom I suddenly
got it! How could I have missed its obvious tastiness before?
How could I not have noticed its ambrosia-like qualities?
Had my taste buds been asleep? Clearly this was a drink
with a delayed taste release system. "Wow those Danes
know a thing or two about brewing!" I thought to myself.
I tried one of the "probably not the best lager in
the world" tins and sure enough it wasn't the same
so quickly opened another Special Brew, noting the "fssst"
sounded almost ethereal as my journey of discovery continued.
seemed to be knocking this stuff back as if it was going
out of fashion and by the bottom of this tin I had my doubts
about the "probably" bit. "Probably?"
"You guys do yourselves a disservice. There's no "probably"
about it, it IS the best lager in the world, trust me. Does
everyone else know about this stuff? You're going to make
a fortune, I tell you."
remember thinking this drinking malarkey was a piece of
cake. I felt absolutely top of the world, no side effects.
While undeniably "the best lager in the world"
it definitely lacked any kick. Meanwhile I noticed a problem
with the TV, there was something wrong with the picture,
almost like a soft focus effect. Anyway, it didn't seem
to bother anyone else so I thought nothing of it. The only
option seemed to be to crack on and have another Carlsberg.
three was faulty, the ring pull seemed really fiddly and
smaller than the previous two. It took me ages to open it
and then when I sat it on the floor it nearly spilled everywhere.
The bottom of the can must have been deformed. I was going
to complain to those clever Danes about poor quality control
but the can seemed to right itself again and for some reason
I forgot all about it anyway. I was nearing the bottom of
that one when mum, with a tone sounding somewhere between
shock and disbelief asked:
not Special Brew is it?"
"Yes" said I, "it's the best lager in the
world, would you like a taste?"
"You'll be drunk!" mum exclaimed.
"No not at all I feel perfectly fine, don't worry."
was a knowing look between mum and dad and my younger brothers
who were clearly not as naive as their older brother.
if you're "ok" why don't you make us all a nice
cuppa, you'll need it."
problem" said I.
I knocked back the last dregs from the tin, had a quick
look at the TV to find the picture was worse than ever and
wishing to get up noticed a slight time lag between my brain
telling my legs to move and them actually obeying. "Strange,"
I thought, "there must be a slight temporal disturbance
in the room, causing a time dilation." I probably didn't
think that at the time but I wish I had. Anyway not wishing
to appear to be suffering the effects of alcohol, I...very
determinedly...rose to my feet, stood for a moment or two
trying to look cool and realised the temporal disturbance
was much worse than I thought, causing the walls and floor
to appear to be moving and out of focus. Clearly whatever
had affected the TV was a bigger problem than I'd thought.
"They'll think it's the beer," I muttered so "better
think of something." Looking around I noticed the mat
mum and dad had made, (hey it was the '80s) had a nice straight
edge, (being rectangular and all that) and putting my best
foot forward I walked the line. Just to make a point I balanced
on one foot and touched my finger on my nose while reciting
the alphabet backwards*, but they still all had a weird
smurk on their faces. The mat was much longer than it appeared
as it seemed to take an age to get to the end of it. When
I did I was about six feet from the door which I traversed
with two big steps, turned into the hallway and towards
the safety of the scullery.**
without going into detail, ("hooray") I managed
to make the tea. I sat down again in the same spot, noticed
the TV was still playing up and contemplated the last tin
of SB. It was goading me, but in a strange moment of clarity
I decided against it. I would save it for another day. And
that as they say is that. Not a great ending to the story
I know, but then I don't expect anyone to a: read it, or
b: read this far should they actually start reading it.
In the words of a famous captain "it's about the journey,
not the destination" which is a cheap way of getting
out of writing a clever ending.