The stout is always blacker on the other side

It’s that time of year when the Easter eggs have been in the shops since about mid-January, the daffodils set the country alight with yellow and pubs throughout England’s green and yellow pleasant land celebrate a famous British saint adopted by Ireland – and I don’t mean Jack Charlton. In a convenient tie-in with the Six Nations rugby (now what clever marketing executive came up with that idea?) the cardboard shamrocks are hanging on the wall, the Guinness balloons are out and the silly leprecaun hats have rolled off the production line.

Yes, rather ironically St Patrick’s day has almost become an unofficial holiday in England to the extent that it’s now a bigger event than St George’s day. Poor George killed an evil dragon (something the Welsh weren’t best pleased with), yet Pat just kicked a few harmless snakes out and gets all the credit. Come to think of it Paddy is the only patron saint of our Hiberno-Britannic archipelago to have a bank holiday in his honour in the respective jurisdictions.

On St Pat’s night last year I had a surreal experience when I found myself in an Irish pub in Finchley (an area apparently as British as a certain part of Ireland) watching cricket. It was Ireland (or should that be Paddistan) versus Pakistan in the World Cup – a historic victory for the boys in green. Any excuse for a party I suppose, as this coming weekend will testify – coinciding coincidentally with England against Ireland in the Six Nations and the Cheltenham Festival and also the threat of economic recession hanging over the Republic. The beer and whisky will flow regardless from Boston to Buenos Aires, but those with a real cause to celebrate will no doubt be the directors and shareholders of Diageo plc.

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5 comments

  1. One of the things I liked the most during my travels in Ireland were the nights in the pubs drinking a couple of pints of Guinness.
    Last year my doctor ordered me not to drink any alcoholic drink for some time. This happened shortly before I had to leave again for a new holiday in the Emerald Isle. So all I could do was to look through the windows of those pubs once I could get into…
    I’m still waiting for my doctor to allow me to drink again, but I fear it won’t happen too soon!

  2. Guinness has launched a campaign in the US to make 17 March an official holiday! :-/ I’d love to abstain on principle but I like the stuff too much.

  3. Antonio – proably not such a bad thing! You can always it in the pub and drink mineral water and watch everybody else gradually take leave of their senses. Sobriety gives you an interesting perspective on those around you who are not so sober!

    Chekov – you could always switch to Beamish or Murphys out of principle. The problem is they’re so hard to come by as Guinnes has more or less cornered the international market for black beer.

  4. Obviously it’s not Guinness, but I had a pint of Köstritzer Schwartzbier in John Hewitt’s recently. It is a black lager. A quite distinctive but pleasant taste.

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