Thursday, 17 January 2008

German beer blog

A bar somewhere in Germany. My weekday resolve weakened, I order a beer. Irena, the lovely barmaid, smiled her probably-professional smile at me and said 'A large beer?' and I was sunk. And why not? I left home at 2 p.m and arrived at 10:35 p.m. Local time. That does not do justice to the inmtervening seven or so hours: seven hours where I insinuated myself into the flow of traffic on the M4, trudged with the shoeless, coatless stream of suspects in the security queue, squeezed myself into the apparent child-seat on an embraer and catapulted a volkswagen sharan off the sliproad into the speeding madness that is the autobahn.

With two hours of A2 and A33 and egged on to outrageous speed by some rousing and potentially fatally encouraging music, I arrive at my destination: "Ziel erreicht!"

The first beer, forbidden fruit on a weekday, is so welcomed by my grateful chops, that it lasts about as long as I took to write thus far.

A sense of expectation from Irena bullies me gently into another beer. She really does have a lovely genuine smile. Of course it is genuine and especially for me.

A large party arrive. They are British. Academics? Not sure. I will listen. Shall I engage them in conversation?
I could. I could find out what their specialisation is and I am sure to know something about it, however obscure. I seem to know something about pretty much everything. Except football. This defeats me. But I am pleased to be confident that most subjects I have touched in the urgings of my unquenchable curiosity. And those I haven't I am happy to venture into and learn about. For now, I am content to write and listen.

A couple sit opposite each other. I guess they are late forties. He seargeant-majorish, clipped grey moustache, bald head, fit looking. She also in seemingly good shape, leather trousers which fit just fine. They sit in silence, looking immensely bored. Not necessarily bored with each other, although the lack of conversation would indicate this, but just that generic boredom that people seem to get. Heads swivel idly occasionally to glance at different points of the room but nothing really seems to catch their interest. I wonder if this works for them. Are they happy in their boredom? Or are they desperately wishing they could think of something to say?

The Brits get louder now, as the beer sinks in, but they are all educated, considerate types so the jollity is muted by politeness, ingrained from birth not to be too intrusive or attract undue attention. They seem released somehow. I like them, they seem friendly and interesting. I wonder about striking up a conversation but they seem fairly occupied so I just watch for a bit and try to work out what line of work they are all in.

Irena looks bored now. In the natural lull between the ordering of rounds that drinking synchronicity produces, in the early stages of a social occasion anyway, no beer needs ordering, all wine glasses are half-full. I catch her eye and, conscience nagging at the litre of beer I have already downed, I order and apfel-schorle, which is apple juice and sparkling water. She expresses surprise but I am not to be swayed.

It lasts a very short time indeed but is immensely refreshing. I remember I have travelled and how dehydrated I unwittingly get on such occasions.

The party continues and feeling tired and a bit of a voyeur, I decide it is time to go to bed. An hours time difference is no great disruption, but I note it is past midnight local time and I have to be up at the equivalent of 6:30 uk time.

So, paying my bill to my room and apologising for having no Euros, I close this rather useful little gadget and head for my bed and the Science of Discworld III. Good night

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