Enefeld London Porter: Advent Calendar 2016 Day 12   2 comments



Name: London Porter
Brewery: Enefeld
Rating (1-5): 3 out of 5 nativity scenes

Notes:  I first came to AA Gill via The Angry Island which I bought at a Thrift Store in Athens Georgia a few days before we drove off to a new job in Arizona — to read during Jackie’s shifts driving and in the hotels along the way.  I soon became convinced he was a spectacular asshole and one of the funniest writers and critics of Englishness and the English I have ever read.  The book turned me on to a number of landmarks around London that you simply shouldn’t miss (Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner for its horrific detail on each of the four sides or Charles Jagger’s statue of the soldier with a letter from home on the platform at Paddington Station for poignancy) and for years I was convinced he was actually an art critic; instead, Gill was a celebrated food writer and a raging alcoholic.

And, he was outrageously funny despite being wrong about so much and smugly, infuriatingly right about so much else.  I wanted to be English before reading him but even more so after reading the Angry Island: a lifetime spent observing the English, in one- or two-year stints — but fully embedded each time — had not turned me off my new countrymen and the recognition of them in his pages convinced me that this…musthappen.  Most Americans who call themselves {shudder} “Anglophiles” would be appalled by real English people and offended by every single [and perfectly acurate] thing he had to say about them.

I am sure I would have liked to meet Gill and that he would have been appalled by me, as well (most people are and fair play).

You don’t have to seek out this book, though.  Just go for the hyper-condensed version the Guardian published by way of contemporary commentary: it will tell you all you really need to know in less than 500 words. Everything, that is, except the title comes from the most quintessentially British of British characteristics: that repressed seething that comes from all the artificially imposed manners everywhere.  EVERYONE here is an asshole and every now and then one of them cracks and then is frightfully embarrassed by it all; except for hooliganism, closing time riots, knife crime, and on those blessed occasions when the Crown is at war and the utter cruelty this people is capable of shines through.

Ahhhh, Gill.  If I can find his grave, I shall definitely leave a single, sub-standard-pâté-smeared Tesco discount water cracker on the headstone.  And, weep a tear for a lost brother I never met.

By the way, the beer, today, was excellent.  The above rating, 3 out of 5 boozy Nativities, was only due to the overall experience (AA Gill is dead, but Trump walks the earth … where are those so-called “patriots” we hear so much about?  There is no God).



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