17 March 2011 (Thursday) - St Patrick's Day

Today is St Patrick’s day. As the sales of Guinness soar, spare a thought for the triumph of successful marketing. Have you ever actually tried Guinness? It’s not bad. However it’s not that good either when compared to similar beers that are available.
Readily available in most supermarkets are stout and porter from the Mean Time brewery: if you’ve never tried them, give them a go. Sainsbury’s also sell Marston’s Oyster Stout and London Porter. And everywhere sells Hobgoblin these days. All of which are far superior to Guinness.
Getting a tad more specialised, most off licences and the shops of local vineyards will have a good selection of dark ales.  Gadds brewery make “Dogbolter” – black and as thick as treacle. The Whitstable brewery make a very good stout. For my loyal readers in Sussex the Dark Star brewery make an excellent Imperial Stout, Harvey’s Old Ale is a storming drop, and if you are ever in Hastings Old Town, find a pub called the FILO and have a pint of “Cardinal” – traditional Sussex porter.
Good dark beers aren’t restricted to Kent and Sussex – more and more pubs these days have Ansell’s Mild at the bar. If you see it – give it a go. Or any other mild or brown ale. Or even (to keep my father-in-law sweet) a tin of Mackeson is better than a pint of Guinness.

So many beers readily available, but the one which in my honest opinion (and so many other people’s opinions too) is at the bottom of the list actually outsells all the rest.
Successful marketing, or apathetic purchasing? When you’re buying a round at the bar, what do your mates ask for? How many (like me) actually take the trouble to see what the beer selection is? So many just ask for “a pint”, don’t care what they are given in the first instance, and then stick to lager for the rest of their lives because they’ve once had a pint they didn’t like. It’s akin to never eating crisps again because you don’t like salt and vinegar flavour.
Perhaps I’d better re-join the Campaign for Real Ale….

Meanwhile, here’s a sobering thought. Just imagine that the ongoing problems with the Fukushima nuclear power stations to be happening at the nearest nuclear power station to me (at Dungeness). Should that ever happen, then on the Japanese government’s advice I would not be setting foot outside my house. For safety reasons I would have to stay indoors.
And were it the American government giving the orders and applying their regulations in such a hypothetical catastrophe at Dungeness, then I would have already been forcibly evacuated from my house. This has got me thinking.
My first idea was that should this ever happen, then I’d just go and doss down on my mother’s sofa, but on reflection that idea would be a non-starter – my mother would also have been evacuated. And so would everyone within fifty miles of Dungeness, which is pretty much the entire counties of Kent and East Sussex. So much for my plans to turn up (with a hopeful expression on my face) in Peacehaven or Brighton. Should Dungeness power station have gone west, then my friends in Peacehaven and Brighton would also be looking for lodgings. Along with (just over) two and a quarter million other people.

However I have a fall back position. Beckenham would seem to be about twelve kilometres outside the exclusion zone. So I should like to take this opportunity to be the first to claim dibs on Terry & Irene’s garage should the worst happen.

I’m not being (excessively) flippant or facetious here. As a teenager the world was a scary place. The threat of nuclear war was ever present, and I was a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I spent hours folding up leaflets to post through letterboxes to warm the public about the threat of radioactive attack.
And having done these calculations has brought back the memories of exactly how dangerous this uranium stuff is. If only there was a better way to generate the amount of power that we as a civilisation are using….


  1. if it happens at Dungeness then we are off to friends in Somerset. If it happens at Hinkley Point they are coming to us. Sorted

  2. Of course, when compiling a disaster contingency plan the first thing you need to do is set up a telephone tree so you need to think carefully just who you might need to share your beer with. But remember you're welcome any time - you don't have to stay in the garage, it's currently colder than our fridge.