"And the January man comes round again in woollen clothes and boots of leather, to take another turn and walk along the icy road he knows so well. The January man is here for starting each and every year along the road forever." Dave Goulder, The January Man.
|And here's the 2021 version....|
But then January? A miserable month at best, made worse by the isolation. Even if I had spent my birthday sat in a pub on my own, the overall experience would have been all the better than drinking the best beer at home. The chatter from neighbouring tables, the clatter from the fruit machine as coins clatter for some lucky bandido, the whoosh, maybe a creak, and then the flow of liquid as another pint is poured, as a stopped clock maintains a silent vigil. The rows of bottles behind the bar, some to the fore on the optics, bottles and labels upturned. Knowing the location of every item behind the bar from the special offers scrawled on brightly-coloured star-shaped paper to the football card. The light in the fridge behind the bar that flickers as it clings on to dear life. The card of pork scratchings with one solitary bag that has been there for weeks. I miss the mundanity of it all. There may be a slightly distracted landlord leaning on the bar, studying the paper for the form for tomorrow's racing from Hexham, absent-mindedly whistling Strangers in the Night slightly out of tune as some crappy game show or Homes Under The Hammer plays out on an over-loud TV. Or a friendly and chatty bar keep - as they may be called these days - to engage you in conversation, the range of which may cover all sorts of things you would never have expected to talk about when you came in, and which subsequently means you can confidently hold your own in a conversation about the latest news on the soaps with the girls at work. Or maybe a random customer who you may or not know who you get chatting to about last night's football which then spirals into a discussion about the merits of dry flies versus using nymphs, before seamlessly shifting back to the football via observations on the inconveniences of the opening time of the local tip. I miss the richness of it all.
|Memories of pints and pubs....|
So this January man walked on by, back home, and had a consolatory can of Vocation Heart and Soul instead, as the steam rose off my discarded boots in the warmth of the kitchen. I put some David Bowie on, as of course this was the week 5 years ago that the great man passed away. And which no doubt added to the general mood and emptiness, as so many memories are wrapped up with the great man's music. And keeping to the Bowie theme, I noticed when perusing the Crafty Fox's can selection this week that the excellent Pomona Island had brought out a beer called Bibbity-Bobbity Hat, which references the lyrics of Queen Bitch, from the Hunky Dory album. A 5.3% pale ale, featuring Mosaic, Simcoe, and Chinook hops, there is a can now waiting for me in the fridge.
|Not a mask in sight...hard to believe we used to do this!|
The Manchester Festival was always something to look forward to after my birthday, another signpost towards the end of this depressing month. With January out of the way, get through February, then it's March, Spring, longer days, lighter nights...and hopefully open pubs!
Something that will be sure to raise a cheer from this January man....
And here is Christy Moore, with his version of 'The January Man'....
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