On Boxing Day

There are five fields between me and the best pub in the next village. It's a walk I've covered in sandy sandals and snow-capped boots. It's been a saunter with friends and a slow solo stumble in the dark after a half-too-many. On Boxing Day, it's something else.

Today the ground is as hard as pig-iron and just as unforgiving on weary ankles. The frost still holds hard in these parts. Where Derbyshire slopes down into the Trent Valley, the horizon segues to a smudged line of milky emulsion. Denuded trees and electricity pylons throw shapes in sharp relief.

Across the fields, from all angles, hats bobble. Thirsty topers from other villages are making the same pilgrimage. Some plough onward to the main road; those who aren't once-a-year-drinkers know where to find the twitchel that takes you straight to the pub car park.

And there, a miniature steam rally is in full swing. Hot oil spurts. A fairground organ plays the Birdie Song rather than a Brandenburg Concerto. Faces rouged by cold or expensive make-up huddle ever closer to an open brazier.

In the pub, I'd be lucky to notice a regular. The Jocasta and Tarquin brigade are out in full-force, all Hermès scarves and braying brogues. But the queue at the bar parts and treasures are discovered.

Dark Star ThornStar is everyone's favourite oxymoronic beer 'style', a Black IPA. A Hoppy Porter. A call-it-what-you-will; I'll call it for what it is; ruddy tasty.

When that cask bust, its replacement was Whim Black Christmas. Which I've been drinking deeply for several weeks now as it makes its festive rounds around Derby. But it's never quite as good as when it's fresh-on, drank in the fingers-freezing cold.

As the aroma of roast pork mixed with burnt diesel, I decided to make a move. Beer-injected pork belly was waiting for me at home. And so I bid Jocasta and Tarquin farewell, wondering why they don't usually choose to come drink in the pub. But, secretly, glad that they don't.

1 comment:

  1. Damn, that makes me otherhomesick...