Last weekend, I visited the Birmingham Beer Festival with my brother. I’m a member of CAMRA and love real ale, so I always enjoy the opportunity to sample a good selection of real ales. There’s also always a nice atmosphere at beer festivals. While alcohol often provokes aggression, real ale seems to have the opposite effect on enthusiasts, so that you see a lot of large bellies and beatific, peaceful smiles around the venue.
This Festival was pretty big, with an enormous number of different ales on. I liked the fact that they served the beer in either pint, half pint or third of a pint measures. I can’t drink all that much, but I like to try lots of different beers, so a third of a pint was perfect. They also had a special bar for local (within 30 miles of Birmingham) ales, which was great.
While my brother and I sat sipping our thirds of pints, there was some ’entertainment’. A Morris dancing troupe1 turned up, jingling. Indoor Morris is something I’ve never experienced before, so that was…novel. By some cosmic coincidence, we had already decided to watch the DVD of Morris: A Life with Bells On that evening, so the whole thing took a completely different tone. If you haven’t seen ‘Morris…’ I highly recommend it. It’s a kind of spoof documentary (like Spinal Tap) about a very keen young Morris dancer (Derecq Twist) who is about to attempt the nearly impossible ’threeple hammer damson’ to join the upper echelons of the Morris Circle. Meanwhile his experiments with ‘Extreme Morris’ are frowned on by the Circle. The characters are great, and played with great affection, while gently sending up the world of Morris dancing. For example, Ian Hart plays the leader of ‘Moss Side Morris’ from Manchester, who perform in urban camouflage gear: if there isn’t currently a Moss Side Morris, there ought to be. Just don’t ask them to do a threeple hammer damson if you want to escape with your life.
1 Is that the right terminology? I don't know, I'm afraid. ↑