Wednesday 10 April 2019

Culture in Hampstead

I do occasionally look at culture outside of Petri dishes. I can remember seeing The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice by the late great Bob Calvert soon after he died. And in the 30 years since then I've seen at least two more plays. There was The Accidental Death of an Anarchist about poor old Pinelli when it was on in Woking, and I got taken to see Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell at some point too. So three plays in 30 years makes it pretty clear that not only am I a regular theatre goer, but another visit was due.

Handily for me another of Bob Calvert's plays was being revived, in the same upstairs room at the pub in Hampstead I'd last seen one. Mirror, Mirror was written in 1979, but set in 2030. It's stood the test of time remarkably well, seemingly spookily like it was written about modern internet culture. He was a bright lad Bob, such a loss.

But what about the pub? A quick look at What Pub showed it's undergone some remarkable changes in the 30 years since I last visited. I remembered it as an ordinary, slightly scruffy boozer but at one point it became a Wetherspoons, before being tarted up and becoming the original home of Camden Town Brewery. This caused me some concern as they don't do beer as god intended, but I was reassured to read that two real ales would be available. Sadly it was not to be.

This is the future that crafties want
Being greeted by the sad sight of two unused hand pumps surrounded by evil keg took me back 30 years too, to the dark days when it was not uncommon to find pubs were keg only establishments. To think that this pub was once a Wetherspoons, where hand pumps would have pride of place and the beer would have been considerably less than £5 a pint showed how things are degenerating.

The Camden Pale served from the devil's drainpipe was, I suppose, some improvement on the keg bitter of 30 years ago but still so, so inferior to cask. I brings me no joy to report that the fools and charlatans that told us craft keg was no threat to cask have been proved wrong. Satan and his servants are attacking cask beer on many fronts and the struggle of the faithful for beer as god intended is as important as ever.

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