Bar Man, Jeff Hoyle, March 6, 2015

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My latest trip in my quest to visit all the world’s football grounds took me to Dulwich Hamlet. Football fans have had a bad press recently, so it was good to see the other side of the coin.

It is the first time I have seen the rainbow gay pride flags waved by the massed fans behind the goal. Their numbers were probably swelled by a free ticket offer for LBGT fans and concessions for NHS workers. They enthusiastically took up the challenge set by a poster at the turnstile and were ‘Singing like Paul Robeson’, which those who attended Tayo Aluko’s play ‘Call Mr Robeson’ last October at the Arts Centre in Lynn would appreciate. So, if pink and blue are your colours, and your politics are inclusive, there are far worse places to spend a Saturday afternoon than the Champion Hill stadium. I hope the day’s opposition, the Metropolitan Police, were impressed by the spirit of tolerance.

But what about the beer? It was hard to miss. It seemed that every one of the 1,457 crowd was clutching a pint, so at half time I headed for the bar and sure enough there was a cask propped on the end where the local ales were served. However the queue was several hundred long, so I waited until I met up with the Barwife in the Old Kings Head by London Bridge station after the match. On the way back to the city the train stopped to pick up fans from the Millwall v Fulham game, most of who seemed to head for the same pub as me. Don’t get me wrong, they were no trouble and the beer was great, but I don’t think my nice new pink rucksack blended in as quite as well as it did in Dulwich.

A couple of days earlier I had attended a slightly different event, a meeting of the Lynn Arts and Sciences Society where Dr Jeremy Noel-Tod was discussing the work of the Suffolk poet, RF Langley. The speaker’s latest work is book is entitled Inn Signs and apparently is based on the names of pubs. At only £5 from the Oyster Catcher Press, an award-winning company based in Old Hunstanton, it has to be worth a punt so my money is winging its way coastward as I write.

The next lecture is on Japanese Haiku, next Wednesday (11th) so here’s one about beer. “Beer and its making. The long river of malt pours, Joy in mind and tongue.” Not original, alas. It’s by Elspeth Payne, who sounds like in interesting character. Look her up. She is, of course not the only person to write poems about beer.

A quick search will reveal works by a diverse range of writers from Edgar Allen Poe to Rabbie Burns. Most surprising for me was Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273), but I will leave you with an excerpt from The Old Stone Cross by WB Yeats, to ponder on as the election draws near:

A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote. A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat. So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbours vote.