Many moons ago, I did not like Guinness. Hard to fathom now, as I caress the droplets off my pint of ever so creamy goodness. Guinness always appealed to me. How could it not, with the fabulous advertising (this is not sarcasm), the coveted merchandise, and a truly engaging story of a man, and a drink. So I used to try it, over and over again. And every time, I didn’t like it. Until one day (oh happy day!), I took yet another sip of a friend’s pint and pushed it away from me.
“You’re doing it wrong,” he said. “You have to order your own pint, and drink it up all gone, no drop left. Then you’ll like Guinness.”
We were sitting in a pub that has long since changed name, on a dreary autumn night. I shrugged, and ordered a pint. I drank it up all gone, no drop left. From that moment on, I liked Guinness. My friend grinned sagely and dipped his Pringle into the head of his pint.
“See?” he said, munching away.
I have never weakened to the point of the crisp-dipping thing. But thanks, J. I owe you for my Guinness-love.
Today would have been Arthur’s Day (24.09.15), if this event had not been cancelled a few years ago. Basis for this death of an event was the encouragement of drunkeness, unsocial behaviour, etc, etc… The stoppage of this celebration of an iconic individual and drink was praised and welcomed.
Drunkenness stopped immediately. Unsocial behaviour and violence ended. Gardaí took a long holiday in Lanzarote to celebrate with pure, volcanic water. Ireland returned to being a place of sober analysis, rigid behaviour and quiet cups of virgin tea. All the previous sentences? On my backside.
I loved Arthur’s Day. I enjoyed raising my glass (possibly one of two), to a man who smelled the sweetness of the hops under his father’s care in Cashel, Co. Tipperary and brewed a dream. That dream became a worldwide brand, and phenomenon. Because let’s accept that Guinness is much more than the pint in your hand. It’s the incredible branding, product expansion (their steak sauce is truly excellent), and media superiority. I loved the music associated with Arthur’s Day, something else we, the Irish, love.
I recently attended another excellent event with my other half: the Irish Craft Beer Festival. Now, here is an organised event in our top city venue, dedicated…. yes DEDICATED to the selling and promotion of alcohol. Over THREE days.
Surely the emergency services has to recruit family and friends just to deal with the fallout from such an event. Because certainly, no Irish person could cope with having alcohol pushed upon them… with deep, genial encouragement! All those lovely, hoppy samples. All those pretty Gin cocktails. Save us, oh please.
I’m pretty sure there was no negative event or press connected to the Beer Festival. So why pick on Arthur? Why not pick on St. Patrick? Let’s cancel our national holiday. Let’s get rid of Holy Thursday, where people queue to get that last drop of ANYTHING to tide them over to Saturday.
You know what? Let’s only offer water and tea on Christmas Eve.
But but but…. surely!!!
Did I mention that the Guinness Storehouse has been recently voted Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction 2015, a World Travel Awards designation? I can vouch for this, having been there many times, with many friends, of many different nationalities.
What we do have, is free will. If I have one pint or ten, on ANY given night, it is MY choice. Let’s not make scapegoatery a national pastime.
In this great mix of terrible and wonderful, let’s remember to stand out. Because we have so much to stand out with.
Happy Arthur’s Day!