The Barman, January 25, 2019, by Jeff Hoyle
We used to discuss moral choices down at the Kings Arms when they ran their philosophy evenings.
The classic one is the runaway train careering down the track about to slam into four people, but you can save them by switching the points to put the train onto another track where it will kill only one person.
What do you do?
Does it make a difference if any of the people are heart surgeons, convicted murderers or sweet children holding a puppy with large trusting eyes?
Fun as they are to talk about, you know that in real life it is very unlikely that you will have to make such a choice.
Real life dilemmas hopefully have less severe consequences but actually have to be made. Some are easier than others.
A few years ago, we held a CAMRA meeting down in Brandon and there was a lager promotion on in the bar.
It was the era when all kinds of products were marketed by scantily clad females, and a couple of them tried to persuade our members to accept free pints of some generic lager instead of paying for pints of proper beer.
They seemed puzzled when we resisted their charms and supped the cask bitter.
Even longer ago, one of the big players in the industry was Scottish and Newcastle and they went through a phase of being really unpopular amongst real beer lovers for their policy of taking over independent breweries such as Theakston’s and Matthew Brown.
CAMRA decided to campaign against this by asking people to sign a modern-day pledge, promising never to drink their beers unless they changed their ways.
For most this was a momentary thing with no consequences, but one New Year’s Eve a group of us found ourselves in a pub in the Lake District.
The only cask beer was an S&N product.
Fortunately, I had not signed the pledge, but Mike had.
What was he to do?
No-one from S&N would ever know or even care, but Mike would. He chose to drink the ale and although I guess this will not result in his immortal soul being cast into the fiery pits of hell, he was subject to a degree of what I believe is termed ‘banter’ for the rest of the evening.
Why bring this up? Because I may be facing my own dilemma.
Very soon I am off to watch Bury FC play at Forest Green Rovers, a club in Gloucestershire owned by Dale Vince of Ecotricity, the ex-operators of the large wind turbines near Swaffham. Forest Green has been in dispute with our arch-rivals Bolton Wanderers over broken promises about transfers.
It seems that the Bolton chairman is not playing things exactly by the book. Anyway, Bolton have no game when his team play Bury and Dale Vincent has invited their supporters to Forest Green and offered them a free pint.
I have been before and very much enjoyed their excellent beer and even their vegan burgers.
However, as Bury fans we are conditioned to hate Bolton from an early age. We have a fine repertoire of songs about the club, some of which end with ‘We are the Bolton Haters’.
So, do I practise my Northern accent?
‘Eh up Lad, I’m from up North and I’ll have a pint of yer best’, or should I pay for the beer and join in the songs?