The Bar Man, October 5, 2018
The thing is, that if you perform a task tolerably competently, you are asked to do it again, and so it was that we travelled to Blackheath, where I had been asked to run a quiz for a church group.
Some things were familiar, such as setting up in the school hall. Some things were different, such as the sheer mass of people who performed tasks like it was a military operation. Setting up, providing a meal cooked off the premises and sorting out the cutlery as we were not allowed to touch any of the school’s stuff as that might have impacted on their 5-star hygiene rating.
The brilliant girls from the youth group organised the raffle and acted as helpers as well as performing creditably in the main event.
I had been told the refreshments would include home-brewed beer, and my reaction had been lukewarm, with the image of old pop bottles filled with a murky fluid upmost in my mind.
However, a chap turned up with a clip-on pump and drip tray, gas bottles, and a container like which looked a bit like a wartime bomb containing some rather good Brainteaser Pale Ale which weighed in at 3.9% and was ‘a refreshing straw-coloured pale ale with crisp bitterness and a smooth finish’.
This undoubtedly helped the evening go well, which was good as down in the nicer part of London they can ask for £15 per head entry.
I was told afterwards the winning team contained a Times journalist, so I hope he did not notice the subtle, almost subliminal suggestions in my questions and spiel that I perhaps did not share wholeheartedly his paper’s stance on the important issues of the day.
Next morning, we went up the road to the church for the Sunday Mass. Being educated at a Church of England Primary School, and being in the cubs and scouts, we used to go along to St Andrew’s for the monthly church parade, but that was founded by the Grant Brothers who came down from Scotland.
It was originally a non-conformist church and even when it was adopted by the Church of England, it still had an air or puritanism about it. All Saints in Blackheath, there on the edge of the great green space, provided an interesting contrast.
Striking from the outside, the building inside was relatively plain, but the service wasn’t. Lashings of incense and a good dose of ritual and performance kept me entertained for the duration. In the quieter parts, I leafed through the various books and bits of paper and soon found a flier for a future event.
It turns out the local brewer who had provided his wares at the quiz was going one better and was running a charity beer festival on behalf of the church’s nominated charity.
He was erecting a marquee in his garden and was to offer a choice of eight ales to the public.
Some of these were to be delivered by his elaborate system, but the Garden Party (4.8%) and the Vicars Tipple (4.5%) were to be cask conditioned brews. Sounds like a great idea and I hope it is as successful as the quiz appeared to be, and that the Al Ahli Hospital in the Gaza Strip benefits greatly.
I doubt the St Andrew’s of my youth would have contemplated a beer festival. Is there a connection between the style of service of a church and their enthusiasm for a pint?