Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sniggering for Dummies

Beer Festivals. They’re rather ritualistic these days. You pay your entrance fee, pay a deposit on a half pint glass, pay for some vouchers and then swap those vouchers for an assorted number of half-pints of beer. As I like and approve of real ale I’ve been to a few of these recently and the similarities are becoming apparent. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to live in a time where cheerful enthusiasts can put together such occasions, but I am mildly troubled.

The last two festivals I went to (both within the previous couple of months, they’re breeding), I had the exact same experience of being behind new bugs on their first ever festival visit being mystified by the procedure described above. Okay, the voucher business is presumably to do with the licensing laws and the returnable glass is presumably a convenient way to raise funds and so on, but I am concerned that these are becoming closed rituals.

The British are rather fond of these. There is an assumption that you are meant to know without being told that is one of the most irritating aspects of living in this land. Don’t believe me? Try navigating through Paris by bus or London by bus and tell me which is easier. Paris bus stops and buses have maps showing where the bus goes whereas British buses simply give you a time and a bus stop name which is often different from the name the driver has been given. Paris buses tell you which stop they’ve arrived at, British buses assume that you know. It’s an abiding fault in our national character. My loathing for organised sport is partly a result of the fact that no one in sports lessons was prepared to tell me the bloody rules to football, rugby or cricket and to scream at me when I got them wrong. You were expected to know already. How? The British are obsessed with secret knowledge, the idea that of course you don’t do it that way, you do it this way, didn’t you know that? What, pronounce something the way it’s spelt? Pardon me while I snigger.

It does get damn irritating at times.

Anyway, glad I got that off my chest.

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