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Friday, 27 January 2017

Walking The Beat Back To Gonzo Town, And The Book That Never Was

Earlier tonight I wrote a huge article that ended up being really self-indulgent, about how my drinking habits have changed and how I don’t go out much any more. Keeping it very simple, and consigning the fifteen or so paragraphs I’d written to Computer Hell, I’ve noticed from looking at my writing over the past few years I’ve tended to just do beer reviews sitting in my living room, on my own. My preview piece for the Plough’s beer festival in August of 2016, in which I took three of the beers that were to be featured home and drank them, is a very different beast to my coverage of the Rockliffe RFC beer festival in 2014, when I went there on my own, got pretty bombed and had a whale of a time. I like both of the articles, don’t get me wrong. I’m not disowning any of them. They’re all my dumb, ugly children.

Taken on its own this isn’t really a big deal. “Guy In His Mid-Thirties In ‘Not Going Out That Much’ Shocker” isn’t a headline that shifts copies. But when you hold it up against the fact that pubs are closing at a breakneck speed in this country, with CAMRA’s statistics from 2016 pointing to 29 a week being permanently shuttered, it looks kinda serious, because surely a beer writer should also be a going-out writer? A going-to-the-pub-even-if-nobody-else-fancies-it writer?

This time last year I was full of piss and vinegar and amazingly excited about writing a book in which I would drink in every bar and pub in the city of Newcastle in 12 months. This was going to be the apex of my work in the fields of “getting out of the house and doing stuff”. It all came to naught because by the rules I set myself it became an impossibly expensive undertaking.

Presented here is the first chapter, the only fully completed chapter. It’s rough and ready, but I’m posting it as a statement of intent that from now on I’ll be writing about beer in the wild again, as well as keeping up a steady stream of reviews written in my lavish and many-cushioned palace of decadence.

The book was going to be dedicated to the late Patrick Lavelle, my favourite lecturer when I was studying journalism, who taught me just how vital it was to know your patch and walk the beat. These are things I need to bear in mind more when I’m writing. Anyway, here it is.