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Withnail and I, a British cult classic

Withnail and I, a British cult classic

Withnail and I (1987)

Withnail and I, a British cult classic

Directed by Bruce Robinson

Written by Bruce Robinson

Starring • Paul McGann
• Richard E. Grant
• Richard Griffiths

Cinematography Peter Hannan

Withnail and I, a British cult classicWithnail and I is a 1987 British black comedy film and cult classic written and directed by Bruce Robinson and set in Camden Town, London in the late 1960’s. It is a simple story of two struggling young actors living as bums, Withnail (Richard E. Grant ) and “I” (Paul McGann), who yearn to take a break from their squalid run down flat and fed up with the hectic life of the city, decide to escape to the countryside on the cheap. Withnail manages to persuade his rich eccentric uncle, Monty (Richard Griffiths) to let them stay in his country cottage in Penrith in Cumbria, North West England, for a weekend RnR. This is to be a “holiday by mistake”, one in which anything that can go wrong, does go wrong!

Withnail, is the flamboyant alcoholic who comes from a privileged background, and, as a struggling actor, is unable to get work hence is angry and resentful with the world. Marwood (“I”), the film’s narrator, on the other hand, is the relatively more level-headed of the two and somewhat timid and neurotic. You get the sense pretty early on, that he just wants out of this life of drunken squalor and rage, even if that means separating from his friend for good.

Withnail and I, a British cult classicAlthough the countryside is beautiful, the location is anything but idyllic. What looks like constant rain, the boys are cold (“Warm up? We may as well sit round this cigarette,” They end up burning some furniture) , the cottage has no running water or light, they are low on food and the locals seem a bit strange and not very hospitable, in particular a poacher, Jake, who takes an instant dislike to Withnail. Its a long long way from Camden Town and the two city boys are hopelessly out of their depth for country living. Trying to cook a chicken (“I’m starving, how can we make it die?”) in an oven balanced on a kettle,  attempting to shoot fish with a shotgun, or using plastic bags as boots to trod around in the muck, are just some examples of their inadequacies.

The arrival out of the blue of Monty himself, who joins halfway through their stay is good for Withnail, as he brings with him good wine and food, but not so much for Marwood, as the flirtatious Monty has his eye on him! (“I mean to have you even if it must be burglary!”). Uncle Monty, the eccentric middle-aged homosexual, tries and eventually fails to seduce Marwood. Monty was under the false impression from Withnail that Marwood was a “Toilet Trader!”. With all these shenanigans, Withnail and Marwood’s friendship is at breaking point.

They hurriedly return to London as Marwood received a telegram informing him about a part in a play. Possibly too quickly, since they are pulled over by the Metropolitan Police as Withnail is arrested for drunk driving. (“You’re drunk”,  “I can assure you I’m not, officer, honestly, I have only had a few ales”)

On their return home they find their drug dealing “friend” Danny (Ralph Brown) and a stranger lighting up a huge cannabis joint, a Camberwell Carrot (“This ought to make you very high”)

Withnail and I, a British cult classicMarwood learns they have received an eviction notice for unpaid rent, thus preempting the splitting of the two companions. Marwood leaving for the station, turns down Withnail’s request for one last drink. “There’s always time for a drink?” But Marwood, with his newly cut hair and looking smart, is a man changed. He has finally got an acting part and needs to move on. They part company, likely for the last time. All alone, and quoting Hamlet and with a bottle of wine in hand, naturally, Withnail cries out in the rain “What a piece of work is a man!” The end!

The film is based on Bruce Robinson’s friendship with Vivian MacKerrell, an unemployed actor and alcoholic friend with whom he shared a house in the late 1960’s. Both were disillusioned with the acting scene and the lack of work, and of money, just about surviving in a dilapidated house in Camden Town.  Robinson penned the story when he was in the depths of despair and during a particular harsh winter in 1969.

The film was made on a small budget of  £1.1 million, with some help from George Harrison who produced the film through his HandMade Films.  But three days into the shoot, Denis O’Brien, the main producer, nearly shut the film down as he thought that the film wasn’t funny enough. As he was American perhaps the British dry humour didn’t bounce off on him.

Robinson’s script is amazing, full of dark humour and intelligence, full of quotable one liners that are widely remembered, and even though its funny, there is tragedy running the whole way through, as we know that its not going to end well at all, but still enough of a shock when the separation does happen. It takes a certain skill from a writer to make such a simple story, plot wise, into a British classic. Excellent.

Withnail and I, a British cult classicThe script is one thing, but you need actors to bring it to life.  The acting in the movie is superb. Definitely true to say that Richard E Grant hasn’t done anything as good, at least nothing I have ever seen. (‘I’m a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum!’). But Paul McGann, the foil to the craziness of Grant, is also excellent and as good as Grant. His part is more measured, but he plays the character so well that you actually feel sorry for poor old Marwood having to put up with Withnail all the time.

Paul McGann was Robinson’s first choice for Marwood, but he was fired during rehearsals because Robinson decided McGann’s Liverpool accent was too strong for the character. Kenneth Branagh was considered for the role, but McGann eventually persuaded Robinson to re-audition him, promising to drop the scouse accent. He quickly won back the part.

Daniel Day-Lewis, was considered for Withnail, but Grant luckily got the part in the end. But when you learn that Grant is in fact a teetotaller and allergic to booze, getting physically sick when he drinks alcohol, it is even more amazing how so convincing he is as Withnail. To get into character Grant was forced to drink and be drunk.

Richard Griffiths as Withnail’s Uncle Monty also impresses and Ralph Brown as Danny the drug dealer has some memorable scenes.

The music in the film is particularly fantastic……..especially the scene where a big wrecking ball is knocking down a house, while Jim Hendrix’s, “All Along the Watchtower” is playing. Brilliant.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” by King Curtis also sticks out in the memory, great song to use for the opening scene as it really fits as Marwood is coming down from the night before, looks depressed, and is contemplating his future, and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, another great tune, by George Harrison, who provided much of the financial backing for this unlikely project.

Withnail and I, a British cult classicThere was no actual filming in the real Penrith, and Sleddale Hall, just outside Shap in Cumbria, is the location used as Monty’s cottage. What strikes me from the county location is the never ending rain, and toughness of countryside life. As for the time period, the movie is set in the 60’s, even if it was made in the 80’s without any set design, which goes to show that parts of London looked pretty dire at this time. Grit I think is the word I’m looking for!

I like this film. Enjoyed it, classic, great acting, good dialogue, well set scenery, with a good soundtrack. Its actually a very clever movie, deep meaning and melancholic. It is a comedy, but it is also a tragedy. Friendship can bring you down, can be chaotic and can destroy. Or when adulthood creeps up on you, when its time to give up on your dreams and settle down into a respectful life of normality, to grow up!

Really sad in the end when they depart. You just know that it is going to go downhill for Withnail without his friend Marwood, but you also feel that Marwood needs this break if he is to restore his sanity. A friendship built on booze and experience and that feeling of invisibility is hard to maintain forever, but the memories will live on.

And then there is all the booze, and large quantities of it! It is definitely a classic movie amongst the drinking fraternity.  They cover all aspects of drinking……from the morning after the night before opening scene, the binge drinking, the care free feckless attitude when drunk, the scurrying around for some more alcohol, to the hangovers from hell……..rarely has alcohol got such star quality treatment on the big screen!

The film wasn’t a hit when it was released in 1987. It only became well known as a video release much later as word of mouth made it a cult classic, and even today its legacy endures.

List of drinks consumed in Withnail and I, or at least as best I can garner, as there was a lot of alcohol consumed in the story!

Withnail and I, a British cult classicThe rules for the Withnail and I drinking game are very simple… just match what Withnail drinks

But please bear in mind that the events of the movie take place over a couple of weeks, so if you do match them, and especially if you drink lighter fluid, you will probably die.

In order to drink along with Withnail and Marwood, you will require:
• Gin
• Cider
• Beer
• Sherry
• Scotch
• Red Wine

• 1 x bottle lighter fluid (You’re allowed to substitute this for vinegar… this is what they did to Richard E Grant to the film the vomiting scene..but I think that is bollix since I am sure he didn’t drink alcohol on set all the time either…..)
• 1 x Camberwell Carrot (good luck with that!)

All told, Withnail drinks nine and a 1/2 glasses of red wine, 1 pint of cider, 1 shot of lighter fluid, two and a 1/2 shots of gin, 6 glasses of sherry, 13 Scotch whiskeys and a 1/2 a pint of ale throughout the film. Here they are in order:

  • Mouthful of red wine
  • Ronsol lighter fluid – large squeeze from can
  • Double gin – glass
  • cider with ice – pint
  • sherry – glass
  • sherry – double swig from bottle
  • sherry – glass
  • sherry – glass
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • large scotch – glass
  • large scotch – glass
  • large scotch – glass
  • large scotch – glass
  • sherry – glass
  • beer – pint
  • red wine – glass
  • sherry – glass
  • wine – glass
  • wine – glass
  • gin + mix (pernod?)
  • wine – glass
  • wine – swig from bottle
  • wine – swig from bottle
  • scotch – glass
  • scotch – glass
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)

Well – that’s the list. Enjoy the piss up, CHIN CHIN!

Famous Lines

Withnail and I, a British cult classicWithnail

• What time is it? It is 8, four hours to opening time, God help us!
• We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.
• I demand to have some booze!
•I’m a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum
• We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now!
• I assure you I’m not [drunk], officer, honestly. I’ve only had a few ales.
• The only programme I’m likely to get on is the fucking news!
• All right, this is the plan. We get in there and get wrecked, then we eat a pork pie, then we drop a couple of Surmontil-50s each. That means we’ll miss out on Monday but come up smiling Tuesday morning.
• I feel like a pig shat in my head.


•When Withnail starts looking for antifreeze, Marwood shouts out: “Don’t mix your drinks!”

• A coward you are, Withnail! An expert on bulls you are not!                                                            Imagination! I have just finished fighting a naked man! How dare you tell him I’m a toilet trader?!

Uncle Monty

• It is the most shattering experience of a young man’s life when one morning he awakes and quite reasonably says to himself, “I will never play the Dane.”
• Oh! you little traitors. I think the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium. The carrot has mystery. Flowers are essentially tarts. Prostitutes for the bees.
• Oh my boys, my boys, we are at the end of an age! We live in a land of weather forecasts and breakfasts that set in, shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour, and here we are, we three; perhaps the last island of beauty… in the world
• I can never touch raw meat until it’s cooked. As a youth, I used to weep in butchers’ shops!

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Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….

I have had many a morning where you wake up with no recollection of what the heck you did the night before. How you got home, who you insulted, why are there bruises on your arms, and why are your friends and family pissed off with you…….again. What exactly did I do! But you can’t remember, you will never remember. Of course your friends will remember………when you meet them again and all the stories come a flooding, with great embarrassment.

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….Yes, the old black out, I have had a few down through the years. From ruining parties, to getting into fights, to waking up in an unusual places, to having interesting conversations with people I can never remember, or what was talked. Anything can happen when I’m blacked out. The lights are on, but no one is at home!

The next morning, you then play the part of detective. Winding back time, trying to figure out where you were and who you were with. First stop is usually to check the wallet, and see if I have spent all my money or do I have anything at all left. Usually I blow all my money. Do I have my mobile? I have lost a few. Are my clothes dirty? Indicating I was rolling around the ground as per usual! Funny thing is, no matter how wasted I am, and no matter where I am, I always manage to find my way back home, to my bed. I always make it back in the end!

So what is a black out then?

A blackout is caused by the intake of any alcohol or drug in which short term and long term memory creation is weakened, therefore causing a complete inability to recall the past. It is a period of amnesia where you can’t recall what the hell you did while you were on the beer all night

In fact, it’s not really that you can’t remember it’s that the night wasn’t processed as a memory in the first place. The memories were not even created, so no matter how hard you try you will NEVER remember! A gap of time is missing, like you were transported to another planet yet you can’t remember anything…it is time travel for drunks…….

Who gets blackouts?

People who drink. People who drink large quantities of alcohol. But more importantly people who drink large quantities of alcohol in a short space of time, and college students!

Basically people who “binge drink”, which the last time I looked was defined as 4 or more standard drinks for women and 5 or more standard drinks for men, within a time period of two hours. A quiet night for myself, but there you go!

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….We are not just talking about alcoholics or heavy drinkers here, it can also happen to social drinkers, people who like a few drinks with the mates at the end of a tough week at work. It is important to note not everyone gets blackouts, about 50% of drinkers do, and there are also many alcoholics who claim to have never experienced blackouts. Remember, it is not how much you drink, but how fast you drink, and how quickly the blood alcohol content rises.

It also affects women more, and no I am not sexist! They have smaller bodies that have less enzymes that break down the alcohol. Women are also more likely to drink beverages with higher alcohol concentrations, like wine and mixed drinks rather than beer. You know, all those bloody martinis and fruit flavoured vodkas.

How does it work then?

A blackout is a loss of memory caused by excessive alcohol intake or drug use over a very short period of time. These substances sometimes blocks short-term memory from forming in the brain and thus the ability of the brain to form long-term memories.

It increases the drinker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) which shuts down the hippocampus region of the brain, the region critical in the formation of memories.

The loss of memory can be “fragmentary” or “en bloc”. Fragmentary blackouts cause the drinker to not recall moments for small periods of time, whereas en bloc refers to over larger periods.

Fragmentary blackouts, the more common of the two, are sometimes referred to as “brownouts”, where people can typically recall bits and pieces of forgotten events once they’re reminded of them. For example, you might not remember it in the moment, but when a friend reminds you that yes you did try and hit on that girl, then you remember. Filling in “the gaps” so to speak.

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….People experiencing en bloc blackouts are unable to recall any details at all, not a zilch, nothing, from events that occurred while they were intoxicated, despite all efforts by the drinkers or friends to rejig the memory. It is as if the process of transferring information from short–term to long–term storage has been completely road blocked.

Interestingly, people appear able to keep information active in short–term memory for at least a few seconds. As a result, they can appear functional, can hold a conversation, and at least appear that bit “normal”. But the key is that the information regarding these events is simply not transferred into long–term storage. If a person experiencing a blackout is asked what happened to them just 10 minutes ago, they will have no idea. That’s the first sign. That’s why you tend to hear drunks repeating the same thing again, and again, and again, ad infinitum. They also probably have a glazed over look, but then that’s alcohol for you!

The brain can capture information in short-term memory while intoxicated, but not hold it, and as for long term memories, forget it. It’s not just your memory that is impaired, but your overall judgment, decision-making, and control over your emotions which could lead an individual to make potentially hazardous and very unpredictable choices during blackouts. And that’s when the fun begins… sex or groping, drink-driving, vandalism, fighting, buying unwanted shite over the net, sending badly worded and timed emails, and other irresponsible and dangerous activities, i.e. questionable behaviour that you’d likely regret if you could remember.

How not to get blackouts!

Don’t drink! But seriously, most blackouts are caused by the rapid consumption of a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, so if you can pace yourself that will lower the chances of having a blackout.

Doing shots or downing beer gets the alcohol into your bloodstream quickly, so relax, you have all night. Remember it’s not how much you drink, but how fast that you drink…

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….Mixing drinks also might not be a good idea, and not just alcohol, adding some recreational drugs is also a one stop route to memory loss.

Food. Drinking on an empty stomach will cause your blood alcohol level to rise quickly. Have some food to line your stomach and slow down the blood alcohol content rising

If you are worried, have a glass of water, it slows down the blood alcohol content. Ok, you might look like a wally, but you also might be the last man standing….

It might also not be a good idea to go out if you are tired. Tiredness and exhaustion means you are halfway to conking out…..

Furthermore, if you often have blackouts, you might want to lay off the sauce for a while, as weirdly studies have shown that there is a tendency for people to revert back to blackout states once they start experiencing them. Some users of alcohol, particularly those with a history of blackouts, are predisposed to experiencing blackouts more frequently than others. So if you have had this type of amnesia in the past then you are more likely to have it happen again in the future.

Should I be worried?

This amnesia caused by alcohol and other substances can lead to all sorts of problems and unhappy feelings. You may feel troubled because you can’t recall your actions the night before. Humiliation or embarrassment can happen or distress if something more serious happened. Paranoia can set in if you are finding it difficult to get all the clues. What I usually did was stay in bed all  day, avoid all human contact, and hopefully any trouble would blow over by Monday, and by then you will be refreshed!

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….Questions might arise. Why do I go mad and do stupid stuff when I am drunk, as when I’m sober I’m not such a bad person? Are these actions really part of my inner character that I have unleashed over a few shots, am I really such a cunt? I do know people say that when you are drunk that’s when your true character comes out. I disagree, I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I think it’s more that you are just out of your mind and your judgment is altered. It also might be something that’s lurking in everyone rather than just one person, our animal instincts……

So should you worry about blackouts then? If you tend to get them regularly then yes, probably you might need to change your drinking habits, slow the fuck down, eat some food between beers, relax…….

Otherwise, they can happen now and again if you are a social drinker, downing shots with the gang, etc. on a special occasions. It’s better to be with friends who can always at least guide you on the right path…..I guess!

But I suppose the best thing is, if you really can’t remember then what’s the problem. As long as you haven’t killed anyone or done something criminally insane then brush it aside, as they say ignorance is bliss.

The 3,000-mile drunken jaunt

I will leave you with a fun story that was featured on the BBC a few years ago about an English man called Jeremy Clay who, in 1878, drank himself all the way from London town to Ohio in the good old US of A, without even noticing.

Waking up at a hospital, nursing the mother and father of all hangovers, he was worried. He had no clue to where he was. A nurse gave him the answer, “Cleveland, Ohio”!

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….The story began seven weeks earlier when in the accompaniment of some friends, the teetotaller tried a few whiskeys. And as you know, one drink led to another and before you know it he was on a boat to America.

The Dubliners had a song “Seven Drunken Nights”, but this was more like seven drunken weeks and 3,000 miles across the ocean.

So intoxicated was he, that he ended up in hospital where he had to detox for three weeks.

The story emerged much later. He was put on the boat by his mischievous friends with a ticket to Cleveland. The lesson to be learned is, be careful what you drink never trust your friends


“What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain”, By Aaron M. White, Ph.D.

Aaron M. White, Ph.D., is an assistant research professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. July 2004

“Victorian strangeness: The 3,000-mile drunken escapade”, By Magazine Monitor. A collection of cultural artifacts   April 2014  Top of Form

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BeerFest, its not Hamlet!

Beerfest (2006)

“Prepare for the ultimate chug of war”

Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
Starring Jay Chandrasekhar
Kevin Heffernan
Steve Lemme
Paul Soter
Erik Stolhanske
Jürgen Prochnow

A lazy afternoon, raining outside and with not much on, I decided to choose a movie that had some beer related theme, so I picked the first one that came up on the googley, Beerfest

These kind of movies, “low brow comedies”, are always hit and miss. I had enjoyed “Dude, Where’s My Car?” (Even with that knob Ashton Kutcher in it) for example, but found “Euro Trip” horrendous.

So I don’t have high hopes for this movie. I am sure it will tick all the stereotype boxes as it is set in Europe in and around the time of the Oktoberfest in Germany. Lets guess there will be a lot of lederhosen and funny German names.

But let’s wait and see, to the movie……..

“Bring on the beer, they’ve got the nuts”, the “hilarious” tagline on the movie poster.

The basic premise of the movie is that two brothers (Wolfhouses) travel to Munich for Oktoberfest, to spread the ashes of their believed beer drinking grandfather, only to stumble upon a secret beer competition described as a “Fight Club” with beer games. The secret beer fest is run by Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen (Jurgen Prochnow, of Das Boot fame), who the brothers discover is a distant relative. The baron insinuates that the brothers grandfather was a thieving stable boy who stole a famous Bavarian beer recipe, and their grandmother was nothing but a prostitute.  After making an ass of themselves at the beer competition, swearing revenge and honour they return to the USA to set up an American team to do battle with all those crazy Europeans at the next beerfest.

The motley crew that is assembled is an unlikely bunch, we have a male prostitute named Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar), a man mountain called Landfill (Kevin Heffernan) and a Jewish lab nerd with a Phd in beer, Fink (Steve Lemme), and the two Wolfhouses brothers, Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd (Erik Stolhanske). The five team members, are known as the “Broken Lizard,” comedy writing group, who have made a few similar movies of this ilk in the past. A lot of the movie is focused on This Magnificent five training hard for this fest, and those sneaky Germans trying to recover the stolen recipe.  The movie ends with the ultimate battle of beer games between the Americans and the “krauts”, all rounded off in the “Das Boot” (Boot of beer) challenge!beerfest13

Of course with Jurgen Prochnow we get a lot of Das Boot references, and Donald Sutherland guests at the start, as the Wolfhouses grandfather who drinks himself to death, while Willie Nelson also makes a silly pot related cameo in the end.


The movie scored a low enough 41% on the Rotten Tomatoes site, with an average rating of 5/10, but it did make a small profit at the box office taking just over $19 million in the US, from a budget of $17,500,000, thus cornering the frat boy beer swilling market for that year!

So is the movie any good?

I have to be honest I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. The story is good for what it is, and I didn’t have to use up too many of my precious brain cells figuring out any plot lines here, but all the characters are pretty damn funny, and the movie is a good laugh. I really don’t get why it has got mostly negative reviews as for me, a drinker who likes the craic, there were definite moments in the movie that I could relate to, and some of the beer references were spot on.

beerfest3The opening scene is a cracker. A can of beer cracked open, a bottle filled, the can chucked on ground. Classy, with the added on advisory to not to try and copy any of the drinking stunts at home, “Dont drink this much! If you attempt to drink this much, you will die!”

Overall, the characters are quite likable, and Yes I was actually rooting for the American beer drinking team (Go USA!). Most of the gang are drunk all the time, and most scenes are set in bars or drinking parties, so whats not to like? Inebriation all around: lots of falling down, hangovers, vomiting, beer conquests, beer games, beer fights, and tits, and lots of them.

The acting is pretty good too from all involved, with Kevin Heffernan and Jay Chandrasekhar putting in star performances.

beerfest16 (1)

The Germans (the “krauts”) are portrayed as angry, all the time, which is always funny, that and the way they use English: “It was ze greatest beer in all ze world!” I am sorry but that never gets tiring! (and I am currently learning German!)

Of course some scenes are silly. There is one scene with a frog and wanking, which is beyond moronic, and Landfill’s brother joining the gang just makes no sense at all.

Found the “different stages of drink” (drink, fight, singing, hangover, drink again) was brilliantly done, and the training tool on how to drink like the Germans was amusing, but the highlight of the movie for me was Barry’s conquest after a night on the town. Hilarious. And he didn’t give a shit! Just the way I like it!


A movie called BeerFest, well its not Hamlet, (actually that would be a good tagline!), you know exactly what you are going to get…..people guzzling vast quantities of beer, getting wasted, acting the maggot, and with a bit of nudity and puking thrown in, yeah that’s all good for me.

Its stupid, but its fun stupid, plus I was drinking when I watched it! So, if you are looking for a comedy with a lot of laughs to beat a slow Sunday, to recover from your hangover or whatever, then this is the movie for you.



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The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

The View from Behind the Bar

Sir Nigels  (@SirNigels) has written for us a great behind the scenes look at the hectic life of bar-tending. The highs and the lows. Sir Nigels is currently finalizing the touches to his new book, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender” an insight in the mad and sometimes fun life of a regular barman.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

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The View from Behind the Bar

The view from behind the bar is a peculiar place, with the tools of our trade at our finger tips, the elixirs of goodwill bottled up around us, and onlookers peering in surrounding us.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

The View from Behind the Bar

The view can be one of great joy and happiness. Cheers, good will, and celebration abound! We also see sadness, friction, break ups, tequila shots, and wedding parties. Everything and anything is possible to be seen from behind a bar. Ask any of us to tell a story and we may have too many to tell. Where should I start you say?

My view is one of great memories worth telling not for just the outlandish drunken silliness, the championship winning game, the famous or interesting people I have met, or not even the cheerleader party with midget performers. My view is more than that. I have watched human behavior for twenty years and studied it.

We are a strange bunch of animals I tell ya. I have served drinks to lots of different types of people from all over the world, cultures, religions, colors, creeds, and backgrounds. I may not travel the world, but the world travels to me. I’m known around the world through the people that have come to see me. Watching and learning this strange human behavior has given me a bit of a nuanced view on humans that only a bartender can understand. After eight to ten hours a day, 5 days a week, week after week babysitting humans you start to get an idea about how they work. We don’t come with instructions when were born, it just takes awhile to figure out what makes us tick.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer


Every person has different life experiences and view points for different reasons. Over the years I have countless discussions about politics, race, guns, war, and peace with all sorts of people from behind the bar. These conversations were not always civil, but we got through them. I learned from them, I hope someone learned something from me.

Over time my view from behind the bar has constructively changed depending on my own life experiences and through the interesting and accomplished individuals that have nursed a glass of Cabernet, sucked down a Mind Eraser, or sipped on a fine single malt scotch.

Working at a bar is not always the exciting life you may see in the movies or at a club. I’ve had some great experiences with more people than I can remember. I’ve met sports stars, rock stars, and famous actors from television and movies. I deal with CEO’s, small business owners, artists, creatives, everyday people, and constantly over-run with egos. To be able to deal with all these wonderful and amazing people who just want, want, want from you constantly with out regard for your physical or mental well being can be trying. After long hours behind a bar my physical and mental anguish can be a bit taxing to my soul.At times people can be uplifting, generous, and thoughtful, but collectively they can tire me until all I would rather do is hide away and hibernate from the real world.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

Bar tender of the year, 2014

Overwhelming is putting it mildly with my view from behind the bar It can be profitable with remarkable ease, but unfortunately also painfully fruitless with too much toil and brown nosing to say the least. I’ve also found myself able to work alone due to my stamina, expertise, and knowledge of my surroundings and regular guests that stop by for a tasty beverage.

I also work for a corporation with unforgiving mismanaging managers and cheap owners, which exacerbates the everyday problem of servicing the masses with the façade of trying to look perfect and in control at every step As we run out of liquor, napkins, spoons, lemons, or maybe the cooks just aren’t in control, we have to always at least pretend like we are in control when the world around us doesn’t feel like it. Our heads could be in a tailspin, but we have to be smiling and find some categorical solution for every task or problem that arises.

A bit of a chess game so to speak, a smart bartender is always looking several steps ahead of the one he is performing presently. Surprisingly, we succeed most of the time, but at times no matter how hard we try and smile to make you feel secure in your food and beverage choices we fail. Sometimes we fail miserably and still find a way to bull-shit our way out of our life predicament. Sometimes the only way out of our failure is to admit defeat and hope for pity on our pour souls.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

Where it all happens

Alas, we survive to serve another drink, muddle fruit for a scratch margarita, or shake the crap out of the vodka you call a martini. Many of us do it because we love our jobs, and we do it with pride and self-righteousness despite our aching feet. We love people and feel their gratitude with the job we bring them. The view from behind the bar may not always be a bed of roses, but the memories of joy and happiness will bring a contentment to our souls and warm hearts to our guests.

Take a moment in the new year to thank your bartender for their services and always be generous for they may be raising a family and every bit of gratuitous love is always appreciated over the years. Much love and happiness form the view from behind the bar.



Just a reminder to check out @SirNigels and his twitter account for all bar related and alcohol fueled inquiries, and don’t forget to look out for his Upcoming Publication: “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”. Sure to be a great fun time read.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

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the Spanish craft beer industry

The Spanish Craft Armada

Thanks to Dominic Lombard, from the website http://www.drinkingspanish.com/, for this article looking at the small but growing world of the Spanish Craft beer scene. He also reviews a nice Bottle of Parking C Pelicano.

Join Dominic on twitter, at @domgetxo, for all things on wine and beer down in sunny Spain. (Lucky fella!)

The Spanish Craft Armada

the Spanish craft beer industry

Let’s face it, Spain has never been famous for it’s beer quality. To be honest the main brands in Spain are very cheap, tasteless lagers usually made with low cost malts mixed with rice or corn or both adjuncts. Served chilled in small glasses called Cañas, which is perfect on a hot summer’s day if you want a cold liquid to refresh you. But in the last 4-5 years Spain has been going through a mad slightly out of control craft beer revolution. It seems that increasingly the natives have found out that there is more to beer than what they are served by the big Spanish brewers.

The Spanish craft brewers and owners are made up of beer enthusiasts, home brewers, business men, ex-property developers, and marketing people. Some are doing it for the love of beer and an interest in being able to make a living from it, while others are in it to make money. The problem in Spain is that at the moment there are far more brands then consumers and that the quality is often poor. Though there are 10 or 15 notable producers that constantly make good quality beers.

The next 2-3 years will see many producers or brand owners fall by the wayside and hopefully, with a bit of luck, the truly good producers will be able to survive. We have seen that some of the bigger brewers, like Mahou for example, are taking note of this craft revolution and are releasing very soon a special edition of 4 distinct “craft” beers onto the market. Also Estrella Damm, a brewery from Barcelona, brought out the famous Inedit beer which was apparently a collaboration with the renowned but now ex-El Bulli Sommeliers. Unfortunately during the summer the CEO of Estrella Damm made some foolish comments about the Spanish craft scene, basically saying that he feared that Spanish craft breweries where making beer in garages or sub standard conditions and feared a quality failure would damage the image of Spanish beer quality. Which is funny considering that Estrella Damn sells in about 85 countries and only exports 15% of it’s production so the comment seemed to be more focused on the Spanish consumer than the international customer.

Spanish craft beer sales within Spain currently sit at just under 1% of beer sales, but it is growing at quite a pace and I think that the big Spanish breweries are looking at markets such as the USA and Ireland and are worried that they will loose market share as the Spanish consumer decides to want beers that are more exciting and with stronger flavours.

Review: Bottle of Parking C Pelicano, White IPA 7.1% ABV

the Spanish craft beer industry

Parking C Pelicano

Mateo & Bernabe was founded in 2012 by Alberto Pacheco and his wife’s family in Logroño, which is the capital of the famous Spanish wine region of the Rioja. Alberto was born to Spanish immigrants in Venezuela and was brought up in Chile before deciding on a return to Spain to train as a chef near where his mothers family was from which was Logroño. After only 5 months in Logroño he met his future wife and his roots where set. When working as a chef he started to experiment with home brewing and then started to go to Italy to attend brewing courses and increase his knowledge of the industry. He then decided that he would like to brew beer and make a living from it.  Sitting down with his wife and his father-in-law, the three of them proceeded to write up a business plan and the result was that, after a couple of years, Mateo & Bernabe was born.

The brewery has 2 ranges of beers Mateo & Bernabe which are delicate beers that are ideal to have with food, and Parking which is the experimental and fun range of beers which they also do collaboration brews.

Parking C Pelicano is a White IPA which was a collaboration brew with Beancurd Turtle who is a brewer named Daniel with 30 years experience from California. Lemon thyme and grated orange peel were added to the beer.

Appearance: Foamy bright white head, lovely slightly cloudy gold yellow with a slight orange hue to it.

Aroma: Malty, dried grass, clove and hints of and dried bitter orange peel

Palette: very delicate bubbles that gives you a lovely light refreshing volume in the mouth then Citrus fruit peel especially grapefruit and lemon followed with freshly cut semi dried grass hints of bitter orange with a long finish citrus peal ending. The beer is wonderfully balanced and the 7.1% is dangerously unnoticeable.

By Dominic Lombard


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Would you like even cheaper beer?


pound pub prices

PoundPub minimum prices

We have pound shops littering the high streets, cheap discount airlines like Ryanair and Easy Jet ruling the air, people buying their clothes in charity shops, and getting buses from Leeds to London for a few quid. Think you have seen it all, well what about a PoundPub! Has life gotten any better!
A pub that offers pints of beer for just £1.50 from 8am onwards has opened in Greater Manchester and, so far, has been a huge success.
The Pound Pub in Atherton, near Wigan, is the second location in a chain of new no-frills pubs offering booze at extremely low prices. The pub saves money and cuts their overheads by not offering entertainment or subscribing to Sky Sports but will have traditional games like darts and billiards on offer.
Strongbow, Fosters, Theakstons and John Smith’s – are all on offer at £1 for half a pint or £1.50 for the full pint.

The interior of the pub is basic and the pub’s slogan is ‘more round for your pound’.
News over plans to open these chains of discount pubs has angered alcohol awareness campaigners who claim that drink is already too cheap and readily available.
However, Mike Wardell, a director at Here for Your Hospitality Ltd, the company behind the ventures, said it was returning to the traditional concept of a pub. “We are responsible retailers, and this is about giving value for money to working people. No one said anything when Workingmen’s clubs were offering bitter for 99 pence a pint, in fact it was pretty popular. We will offer a quality product at an affordable price”.
He further went on to explain that “These two sites are the test, and a lot will depend on how successful they are as to how we expand. At a time when 12 pubs a week are closing across the country we have to think outside the box a bit.” If it’s a success, the chain plans to bring the brand nationwide.


Some residents of Atherton and Stockton have criticised the Pound Pub for taking advantage of ‘vulnerable’ drinkers and lowering the tone of the town. They are afraid that the pubs will attract the “wrong sort”.

pound pub

pound pub

Chair of the Stockton Town Team, Joanna Waker called the Pound Pub ‘counter-productive’ to Stockton’s development. She said: ‘Businesses do not need to be low cost to survive in Stockton, ‘Earls of Ashwood deli serving fine cheeses and The Storytellers pub serving fine and real ales from around the world – both of which are absolutely thriving – prove it.’

Stockton is undertaking a £38 million town centre refurbishment, and borough councillor Phil Dennis, said he was worried about the effect of the scheme on the redeveloped town centre, and warned the pub “cheapened the image” of the new investment. He added: “I have initial doubts and concerns about the ability of such a venue to control the environment where effectively we are selling at a point where the quality of clientele will likely match the price of the product on offer.”

Ken Lupton, leader of the council’s Tory group, said: “An individual pub with such a pricing policy would only be detrimental to the general improvement the council hopes to achieve with their significant investment in the High street. I have initial doubts and concerns about the ability of such a venue to control the environment where effectively we are selling at a point where the quality of clientele will likely match the price of the product on offer”.

pound pub

The inner sanctum

This type of drivel is a joke. How do ordinary people having a few pints in a pub lower the tone of an area? It’s all well and good for the cheese eating, coffee drinking, bridge playing types to moan, but drinking in pubs is what the British do best. They have done it for centuries and if it puts a few tory noses out of joint in the local councils then so be it. Stick your 38 million redevelopment up your arse. Who the hell wants another starfucks or M n S in their high-street! Can there not be a little bit of the town left for ordinary people to drink and be merry.

The pub is also raising concerns over its application to start serving alcohol at 8am. Angry neighbours claim it caters for drunks “staggering around the streets” before lunchtime.
This is also a bit of a misconception. A person can only drink so much. I am amused as to where all these drunk people would be going to, are they not already in a pub, where would they be off too?

Pub landlord, Dave Sutton, allaying fears, stated ‘If people get out of hand they get kicked out – it’s like any other pub, only cheaper.’ He also added that the pub was only met with one objection when its application for an extension to its alcohol licence was put forward last year. Which makes you wonder if all the residents objections were a figment of some newspaper hacks mind.

I will leave the last sentence to the Greater Manchester Police who confirmed there had been no problems with the PoundPub.

Drink Irresponsibly

pound pub

pound pub

Colin Shevells, director of Balance – an organisation that encourages people to reduce their alcohol consumption said: “Drink is already too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted. We know that problems are caused by it being too cheap. The PoundPub is just part of a much bigger problem. We need to wake up to the problems cheap alcohol is causing both in the short and long term. We need to find a way to bring in a minimum price that doesn’t penalise the moderate drinker and the good solid community pub. So many of them are closing because they can’t compete and this will make it worse.”

The local council has also raised fears that the pub will encourage ‘irresponsible’ problem drinking and threaten public health.
Wigan Council’s director of public health, Professor Kate Ardern, said: ‘Alcohol used to be a luxury, but it is now widely available and often sold at pocket money prices. Research has proved that the cheaper alcohol is, the more people drink. ‘Any promotion which potentially increases the supply of cheap alcohol and which appears to target those on limited incomes, especially young adults, who are cost-conscious, is highly irresponsible – particularly in a borough like Wigan which has high rates of alcohol harm.’

Mr Sutton, the pub landlord, denied claims it was “irresponsible”, saying: “We don’t encourage people to get drunk.” He also pointed out that supermarkets are able to sell their own value beers at 40p a can – something which is not monitored by councils

My View

I have to be honest I love the idea; half a pint for a quid, £1.50 for a whole. In fact I don’t just like it, I fecking love it! I like drinking. I like drinking in pubs. I like drinking cheap beer in pubs. So far I can’t see anything too wrong with this concept!

pound pub

All in for a pound

Pubs are very valuable in improving the communal spirit of an area. It’s a place to make friends, have a chat, relax, and take a breather from the outside world. Is this not better than buying a cheap can of pish from Tesco’s and drinking it all alone at home? Where are all the old men meant to spend the day? Where can we relax and have a sit down after the weekend shopping spree?
Mr Sutton, the pub landlord, said his clients were mainly old men drinking throughout the day, starting as early as 9am. Not the image of boozed up vandals terrorising the locality then.
PoundPub is offering a service, and the point that the two pubs are doing a roaring trade so far supports the fact that people want them in their areas.

PoundPub is also the lifeline to an industry that is currently suffering and where 12 pubs a week are closing across the country. Pubs are finding it hard to compete with supermarket chains who can cut their prices on alcohol and offset the price onto something else. As Dave Sutton said, ‘Pubs around the country are shutting all the time so something has to be done – and this could be it. The idea is to bring people back into the pub” And amen to that.

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Would you like cheaper beer?

Would you like cheaper beer?

JD Wetherspoon

JD Wetherspoon

Would you like to drink cheaper beer?
Think that’s a strange question with only one obvious answer?
Well the UK discount pub operator JD Wetherspoon’s is embarking on its first big overseas expansion by purchasing a small number of outlets in the Republic of Ireland. And this expansion in the south of Ireland has a few people upset and worried of the further demise of the traditional family owned Irish pub.

The London-based company is to spend €1.5 million refurbishing what used to be the Tonic Bar in Blackrock, Dublin. The pub will be renamed The Three Tun Tavern and will open for business on July 8th. The Blackrock pub marks Wetherspoon’s entry to the market in the Republic. It has also acquired the former Newport Cafe pub in Cork, which is due to open in the summer of 2014
The chain, which runs almost 900 pubs in the UK, is believed to be in negotiations on another 10 premises and is looking at opening as many as 20 pubs here over in the next 5 years.

The Republic of Ireland, is a tough market to crack, as it’s a heavily indebted and regulated market still dominated by family-owned bars, but the cost of buying outlets and licences in the Irish pub sector has fallen rapidly since the country’s financial crisis. Falling turnovers and huge debts are crippling many of the nation’s pubs all around the country.
According to a report by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, since 2007, almost one in eight of Ireland’s pubs have closed, bar sales have fallen by a third and employment by a quarter. The industry is just about hanging on.
This is too good an opportunity for Wetherspoon’s to miss. The company’s chairman and founder, Tim Martin, stated that Wetherspoon’s “aim is to invest up to €50m in the Republic of Ireland over the next five to 10 years, with our strong buying power we expect to provide good value with 10-20 per cent cheaper prices than most Irish pubs.”

Who are they?

tony martin founder of wetherspoons

Tim Martin

Tim Martin, in 1979, set up Wetherspoon’s in the London area. The no-frills pub chain, known for cheap drinks, reduced priced food, and shunning live music or sport on TV has more than 900 pubs and employs about 23,000 staff.
You can find a Wetherspoon’s in every town and city in the UK, and they have a pretty efficient standardised operating system across all of their venues.
Listed on the stock market, in July 2013, it made a pre-tax profit of £77 million (€93.7 million)


feck off wetherspoons

feck off wetherspoons

But will the idea take off in Ireland: Would you drink in a British discount chain pub?
Attitudes towards Wetherspoon’s’ introduction to Ireland seems to be mixed, at least from what is seen on the Irish online community. Within days of the announcement a Facebook page “Feck off Wetherspoons” was created having nearly 2,500 followers. On Irish themed forums some commentators were foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a British pub chain moving into Ireland, with one online news network having the headline “The British are coming!”
As you would suspect, many publicans seem doggedly against the development, as it will invariably lead to more competition on price, and a further division of their dwindling market.
Some argued that Wetherspoon’s are too dull and sterile, with standardised platforms, offering cheap pints and average food, with no music or sport showing on TV. If Weatherspoon’s succeed some are concerned that this will push many traditional Irish pubs out of the market. Irish pubs conventionally the centres of friendly conversation, music, and watching live sports.

Negative reactions

The issue obviously affected some so much that they were pushed to set up a Facebook site. The site has over 2500 likes

There are some who set up a rival version, welcoming Wetherspoon’s to Ireland, but has only about 41 likes so far!

welcome to ireland

Bring Wetherspoons to Ireland

The negative reactions tend to focus on the soulless atmosphere in Wetherspoon’s and/or British pubs comparing it to going to McDonalds for a beer!
Another issue is that cheap drink attracts a certain clientele and might end up as all day drinking houses for the unemployed and alcoholics.

Some views are just outright anti British whatever about the price. One stating on a forum that they “would never drink in a British owned pub in Ireland”, while another post stated with gusto. “No. No. No. No. British “McPubs” not welcome here. Stay across the water”

Positive reactions

Positive reactions centre on the fact that more competition usually leads to cheaper prices. Competition is always a good thing. Consumers are really just interested in one thing, and that’s the cheapest price. Many feel that Irish publicans have ripped off the public for a long time now, and that if a discount chain arrives into Ireland, prices across the board might come down. A change is good for the stagnant industry.

wetherspoons and real ale

Real ale

The “Indigenous or traditional culture” tag doesn’t seem to wash either when you consider that pubs up and down the country show English Premier League football, British horse racing, and with many patrons reading fare set as “The Irish Sun” or “Irish daily Mail” (shudder) for example, all the while probably drinking Budweiser, Heineken, or even, a Guinness with its long established Anglo – Irish roots. It’s a capitalist free market world, and competition is what the consumers want. Actually, Weatherspoon’s are just as likely to help the local Irish economy as their modus operandi is to source local beers in the UK so one could quite easily see them do the same with local breweries and up and coming craft beer start-ups, giving them a chance to expand.


It’s about time the Irish pubs had a bit of competition as the bar industry has criminally overcharged customers for years and are still doing it. I find it hilarious that publicans are at a loss to why they are doing so badly. It’s got to do with the public finally voting with their feet. Why spend money in overpriced bars when you can have a party in your own home with cheap beer from the supermarket.
The Vintners association of Ireland are also very powerful in the circles of power, second only to the Catholic Church. Price fixing is their forte, profits and squeezing the customers the target. Watch Weatherspoon’s hit the Irish market running.

Also the fact that Ireland has given the world some shockingly bad and cheesy Irish pubs down through the years, we can’t really complain when an English chain wants to break into our market.
See previous article>http://thisdrinkinglife.com/irish-themed-bars-always-shite-avoided-like-plague/

fry up

fry up

I have drank in Wetherspoon’s several times, and they were fine, good food and beer for the right price. Weatherspoon’s pubs are where everyone starts the night off, and is also the place for the hangover fry up the next day. I do like the idea of a bar with no music, or a TV blaring out from the corner of the bar. People can chat to each other in total comfort.

burger and a pint

burger and a pint

Would I drink in there? Yes. British ‘McPubs’ with cheap pints, good variety in beers, and quality and value in food are strongly welcome here!
Drinking in an Irish pub is still the best place to have a beer in the world. But it’s the people you’re with that makes a night out, not the establishment, and for that reason the traditional Irish atmosphere won’t die out, it might be just rocking away in an English pub chain in Ireland!

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oker, a load of wank really!

Poker, get all the tips here!

My two days spent playing internet poker

Poker chips how to play poker

Chips, lovely chips

After watching Ronnie O Sullivan throw away one of the easiest snooker world championships ever to win, and with it some of the money I had bet on him (got him at evens with what I thought was a decent bet), I got so peed off that I said I will try online Poker, again. I tried it years ago when I had lots of free early morning time working evening shifts. I was never a great player but I did win the odd hundred here and there and was a few tables off a televised event.

Real life poker I have tried before much with the same results, not much wins, not a whole lot of losses. I tend to get kicked out of live poker as I am usually sloshed from all the free beer, and eventually always thrown out the front door!

To be honest I find Poker extremely boring, and in my opinion it isn’t even the best card game.

The card game 25, from Ireland, is a really good game, and Auction 15, a derivative of it, is my favourite game where one player can bid against a pack of players for cards.

Rules for 25> http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1232991/twenty-five

Anyway here is some of my observations and tips! Please don’t take it too seriously!

Avatar. I know it sounds silly but I always go for the avatar of a young woman. You would be amazed how it throws people off. The majority of poker players are men, and they do have this idea that woman can’t play the game, which is of course nonsense. But you would be surprised at how men get aggressive towards a female avatar, it’s funny actually. Sad bastards.

four aces how to play poker

An ace hand

I always start with the very small pot games, less than a dollar or so, and always with sit and go’s. Small pots as it takes time to get warmed up. I think poker, like any other game, is a game you need to practice for a while to get going. If you go straight for the deep end with not much game time you will be eaten by the sharks pretty quickly. The more you play the better you will get. Even if you are not winning you are getting good game time and developing your game. Remember many top class poker players train online before real live tournaments, solely for the purpose of practice. It’s all about the practice.

Even with these small pot games, you would be amazed at how seriously people take them. People would fight for a long time to win 10 cents.  And then the opposite not play for less than 10 cents. I always call at the start of a hand for anything less than 50 cents. Why the feck wouldn’t you? It’s such a small stake, that it’s worth the gamble to see some of the flop and its good game time.

It’s always tempting to go in when you think you should win. It doesn’t work like that. Nearly getting a run, but one out is still out. Wanting to win doesn’t mean you will win. So patience is required, bite the lip, and hit the competitors when you do get a good hand, a definite hand. Bide your time you will get that good hand soon! I am no good at bluffing with nothing. I nearly always go with at least something in my hand. Fair dues to real poker players that can bluff, that’s a skill I can’t do.

two aces poker how to play poker


Know when to give up a hand, even if invested a lot. That’s gambling in general, the test to see if you can walk away from a loss. That’s where people get into trouble in gambling, chasing losses. I used to have a rule for the horses, if I couldn’t get a winner in three consecutive races, then out the door. Take a deep breath, remember there will be other days! Sometimes you can also be just plain unlucky, don’t kill yourself over it. You can have two sweet ace’s in your hand but if the other fella has three 2’s or whatever then so be it!

I also love going overtly aggressive if I have twice as much money left as any others at the table. I raise everything even if I have garbage. Even if you lose the odd hand you will shake it up, sometimes it gets the other players into a panic, keeps the game going, and get players pots reduced (even if you lose).  Also you won’t be beaten by a bad hand, most players would rather hold onto their crappy pot if they have a useless hand. Drives me mad seeing someone sitting on a big pot fiddling their thumbs. I mean I don’t want to be all day playing online poker, hurry it up a bit!

Sometimes players bet exactly a hundred as a raise, or sometimes something weird like 32.45. Jesus don’t make it that obvious you have something! You might as well tell the other player you have a good hand! Only a matter of time when you catch these players out.

As for going for a double in a crowded table if required. I always go for it if I have at least a Jack or more. Of course in a two player game I’d nearly go in with anything half decent, within reason, ha!

Another obvious one is someone who bets big on fecking everything (the Chinese poker player?), they usually have rubbish, and are usually gone fairly lively from a game. In my local casino it’s always the Chinese that do this, in fact in any sports (horse/dogs) they always go for the favourite, maybe it’s because they haven’t good English.  People hate playing this kind of player, as they are not really playing the game, or in fact gambling, but they don’t usually last. Get a decent hand, catch them out, and they are gone. Simples.

Waiting on the last card, don’t bother it won’t happen. Think of the numbers, what are the chances of you having that run with the very last card? Exactly!

So playing for two days constant not winning not losing. I had a nice run of 6 games unbeaten, but lost a few while distracted on the net, then I got bored, went over to the 21 table and lost all my money pretty quickly. Fuck that for a load of old wank, dodgy!

poker how to play the game, badly


So what does all this show? Internet poker is fecking boring, and if you want to win you need to be on the virtual tables’ hour upon hour. I sincerely doubt many make a living from internet poker. I have heard a few fellas say they do but I don’t believe them. Gamblers always boast, will always hear about their wins, never their losses. Have you seen some of the guys on TV that rose from internet gambling? They invariably look geeky and sad, do they in all sincerity look like guys you could not have a pint and a chat with? Granted they might be rich bastards but….. no!

In fact this says as much>


Nah, poker is a good game but the amount of hype that surrounds it is funny. It’s skillful but like any gambling game it’s also about luck. I am amazed at how there are so many webpages with insider tips and all. Feck off, it’s just like anything else, you get what you put in. If you want to sit on an internet poker table hours every day for the next few months I am sure you will do well, but could you be bothered?

Anyway will, Football is my thing. Regards till then as I bin my poker face.

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Cider - A Beginners Guide

Cider – A Beginners Guide

Rikki Hammond, in the excellent blog The Cider Drinker, has written for us a great beginners guide to cider.  This is a good introduction to the exciting world of cider drinking. Rikki writes regularly on all cider related news, and reviews, on video, all the best ciders, and some of the not so good, so I STRONGLY recommend you check out his website

The Cider Drinker Homepage> http://theciderdrinker.moonfruit.com

Rikki’s video reviews> https://www.youtube.com/user/Dormin87


Cider – A Beginners Guide

Apples and cider

All the lovely apples

Picture the scenario. You’ve popped to your local shop/off-license/pub to peruse what variety of alcohol they have on offer. You’ve been a beer drinker for most of your life, and decide that tonight’s the night you pop your cider cherry. You view the drinks on offer, and decide to go for the most eye-catching and cheapest one they have on offer.

After your purchase, you head back home/to your table, crack open the can or bottle and take your first sip of fermented apple juice……….and are promptly overwhelmed by a hideous taste that makes you almost gag, forcing you to tip the rest of the contents down the sink or palm it off to a mate.

That was my first experience with cider! Now, ten years down the line, my taste buds have developed, and to all you people who have had this same experience with cider, I say to you, give cider another chance!

Of course, everyone’s tastes are different, but most people have only tried the cheap, mass-produced ciders available, and probably think this is what all ciders taste like. This is most definitely not the case. So, where do you start looking for better tasting drinks? The answer, is right in the very shop or pub you bought your first cider from.

Different types of cider

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of different apple varieties out there, and with this comes the ability to make a lot of different tasting drinks. But first off, we need to know the different types of ciders out there, these are as follows:



 ‘White’ Ciders – The absolute bottom of the barrel, coming in at 6-10% ABV, no colour and usually smells and tastes of chemicals, perfect if you don’t care about taste and want to get wasted quickly, as they are usually dirt cheap

Mass-Marketed Ciders – The next step up, not naming any names, but you know the ones I mean. Usually 4-5% ABV, quite a pissy colour, and rather bland tastes in the mouth. Still cheap, although some companies try to rip you off big time, and probably the biggest type of cider people have tried.

Vintage Ciders – If you see the ‘V’ word on a bottle, it quite often means that the cider has been left to age (most likely in oak barrels,) and gives it a much deeper colour and stronger taste. Vintages usually come in between 7-8% ABV

Farmhouse/Scrumpy – Now we’re getting in to the big boys. A whole variety of tastes and colours are present in these ciders, and are almost always cloudy in appearance, due to the cider being unfiltered. This also means, you will probably get natural sediment in your bottle too. Again, these can range anywhere from 6-8% ABV normally.

‘Real’ Cider – The top end of the cider chain. Unfiltered, no artificial stuff added in, and no sugars. Just 100% pure apple juice left to ferment of it’s own natural causes, and almost always still not sparkling. The range of tastes and colours here are phenomenal, and the ABV can be anywhere from 3 to 8%.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg (or ciderberg if you will,) as we can also get in to apple wines, apple brandies, pommeau, ice ciders and more, but we’ll stick with the basics for now.

With VS From

One thing I have noticed from drinking a lot of cider, is the wording on the bottle can plays a big part in whether the drink is going to be good or not, and it all comes down to two words, with and from.

the process in making cider

The process involved

If you spot ‘with’ plastered all over the bottle or can, this could mean that the drink has been made with apples, but also a lot of other crap thrown in too. All the company has to do is add one apple to the drink, then the rest can be concentrated apple juice, imported from another country, and they can still label it as cider, because it’s made ‘WITH’ that one apple.

If you see ‘from’ however, it’s usually accompanied with ‘100% apples’ or something similar. This, more often than not, means you’re getting the real deal, with no nasty additives thrown in, and makes for a much better tasting experience.

Other buzz-words to watch out for are ‘premium’, ‘refreshing’, ‘clean’ and ‘crisp’, as these usually indicate that the drink is going to be NONE of them, those words are merely there to whet your taste-buds, and to make you buy the drink, and then you will most likely be wholly disappointed with the end product.

The Next Step

Ok, so you’ve tried your hand at a few different ciders off the shop shelves, and have decided to have a pop at ‘real’ ciders. But where do you even begin? That’s where ale and cider festivals come in to play. More often than not, they will have a vast array of drinks on offer at very reasonable prices too. Find out where your nearest festival is held, and book a day to go and visit it with a couple of your mates, and let the adventure begin.

The festivals I’ve been to come in two flavours. Sometimes you will be given a beer card, which equates to £10, and you’re free to fill the card up with whatever drinks you want (you can even go back for a second one if you want,) or you simply walk in to the festival, and pay for the drinks as you normally would in a bar. Either way, you’re gonna get through a lot of drinks while you’re there. But which ciders to try?

cider drinking

Cider drinking

The best bet is to ask the guys behind the bar on their recommendations, and have an idea as to whether you’d prefer a sweet or dry tasting cider. The bar staff almost always allow you to have a little taster of a drink if you’re interested in it, and if you like it, they’ll fill up your glass from there. As you try out the ciders, you’ll find out for yourself which ones you do and don’t like, and can use this knowledge for when you take a trip to your next festival, because believe me, once you’ve been once, you’ll want to go again and again.

If you can’t afford to go to your local festival, have a look online to find out if any pubs are offering ‘real’ ciders, and try them there. You might end up paying a little more for them, but the end result will still be the same.

So as you can see, there’s more to cider than meets the eye. Once you’ve tasted a real cider for the first time, you’ll begin to wonder what you ever saw in those mass-marketed ciders in the first place, but the only way you’ll find out, is to go out there and expand your taste-buds!

Don’t forget to check out Rikki’s blog for all your cider related inquiries



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Monkey business

When monkeys drink beer

When monkeys drink beer

drinking monkeys

The life of a modern day monkey

Sometimes when you get completely off our face we can act like a monkey, but what happens when a monkey acts drunk?

Well there have been two recent studies into monkeys and drink, where scientists gave monkeys massive quantities of alcohol, all free! Bastards! Yes this is what scientists get up to these days. Lucky monkeys you might say, but anyway, let’s have a look at these very important studies.

STUDY NUMBER ONE: The search for the ‘alcohol gene’

Scientists have discovered that monkeys, just like the humans, those other primates, also have developed a taste for alcohol – and behave in a similar fashion when under its influence.

St Kitts and Nevis islands

St Kitts islands

Research into their drinking habits was carried out on the Caribbean island of St Kitts on a group of green Vervets. The Vervets were introduced to the island in the 17th century when they were brought over with slaves from Africa. St Kitts was chosen for the project because the wild Vervets had established a liking for alcohol from the fermented sugar cane lying around aplenty in the fields of the rum-producing island.  In their hunt for alcohol, they’ve learned to steal alcohol from bars, hotels and napping tourists. Scientists are using the monkeys – which share 96 per cent of their genetic make-up with humans – to help to search for clues to the nature of human drinking and to discover whether some people have an alcohol genes in their hereditary makeup.

See Video (might be blocked in some countries, drat!)

The scientists took 1000 vervet monkeys and plied them with alcohol, kept them in a social group and directed research into their drinking habits. Leading the experiments were Frank Ervin, a professor of psychiatry, and Roberta Palmour, a professor of human genetics, both from McGill University in Montreal.

Unfortunately for the monkeys the experiments were not set in the local pub but in controlled cages, where they were given a choice of non-alcoholic, diluted alcoholic and neat drinks. They found that the monkeys’ drinking behaviours were oddly similar to humans: that the animals split into four core categories: binge drinker, steady drinker, social drinker and teetotaller

Social drinkers: The majority of the monkeys, drank in moderation and only when they are in the company of other monkeys and not before lunch, prefer their alcohol to be diluted with fruit juice.

Regular drinkers: Fifteen per cent of the monkeys were regular drinkers and prefer their alcohol neat or diluted with water not sweetened or watered down with fruit juice: Funnily enough steady drinkers do very well in social groups, and are good leaders. They keep order well and they’re very dominant. This type of alcoholic monkey is a very efficient animal.  In human terms Winston Churchill perhaps!

Teetotallers: Fifteen percent of the monkeys prefer little or no alcohol. Bastards!

Binge drinkers: Five per cent are classed as “seriously abusive binge drinkers”.  They drink fast, fight and devour as much as they can until losing consciousness. As in humans, most heavy drinkers are young males, but monkeys of both sexes and all ages like to drink. If this group has unobstructed access to alcohol, they will drink themselves to death within 2/3 months. What makes them different to the regular drinkers is not the quantity of alcohol intake, both can be high, but in the way they drink, their drinking patterns.

So what does this experiment prove? Prof Ervin said: “The parallels between the Vervets’ behaviour and human behaviour are striking. A cageful of drunken monkeys is like a cocktail party. You have one who gets aggressive, one who gets sexy, one who thinks everything’s funny and one who gets really grumpy. The binge drinkers gulp down the alcohol at a very fast rate and pass out on the floor. The next day they do it all over again.”

Monkeys drinking beer

On the piss

So just like humans, monkeys abuse alcohol, and suffer all the negative effects that booze can bring to society – idleness, violence, theft, no frills sex, and the rest.  Additionally, the study shows vervet monkeys’ alcohol use has a genetic component. For many years, alcoholism in humans was thought to be purely a learned behaviour — the result of environmental factors. But this study, and others like it, indicate that in humans, alcohol addiction has a genetic component: it has a tendency to run in families. Daddy monkey passes it down to the little ones.

Man is said to have started drinking alcohol in prehistoric times when scouring the forest for sweet fruit, man liked what he tasted when the fruit fermented and reacted with natural yeasts. Is this one reason why we developed our brains, developed a creativity and deep understanding of life? Is this how first early music/paintings started? Or dare I say it religion. I mean you have to be off your rocker to believe in talking snakes and the like.  Is it only a matter of time before the Vervets start penning some tunes? Maybe the scientists could have given them some typewriters when they were crammed into them cages? Only saying like!

STUDY NUMBER TWO: Boozing adolescent monkeys’ reveal how binge-drinking harms the adolescent brain.

Binge drinking is increasing amongst the youths, and new research has shown long-lasting damage to an important area in the brain after excessive alcohol consumption, suggesting binge drinking could seriously affect the memories of adolescents. Post-mortems of binge-drinking adolescent monkeys have produced the best evidence yet that heavy drinking at an early age can do lasting damage to the brain. Monkey and human brains develop in the same way, so the finding suggests that similar effects may occur in human teenagers.

Scientists and a team of researchers at the Scripps Research Institute at La Jolla, California led by Chitra D. Mandyam intended to determine the negative effects of binge alcohol consumption on the hippocampus area of the brains of adolescent macaque monkeys. The hippocampus, not hippopotamus, is necessary for short and long term memory, impulse control and ability to make decisions. The hippocampus is moreover a place where the adult brain can produce new brain cells.

The research team observed a group of seven male adolescent monkeys, given alcohol over a period of time that increased from potency of 1% to 6% over the first 40 days, getting them drunk, while the scientists studied their brain development. The percentage of alcohol increased from 1% to 6%, over a period of 40 days. At the end of the first 40 days, three monkeys were taken off alcohol, given non-alcoholic drinks instead. Four monkeys, however, continued to receive the brew containing 6% alcohol for an hour per day for 11 months. .

“Monkeys love to drink. They’re like humans,” Mandyam says. These four monkeys were intoxicated daily with a fairly high blood alcohol level (BAL) limit of 0.1 to 0.3 (roughly 10/12 bottles of beer). For the last two months of the research, no alcohol was given to the four monkeys who had received alcoholic cocktails for 11 months before slicing up the animals and examining their brains. Nice.

The results showed that the binge drinking monkeys had a dramatic decrease in stem cells in the hippocampus region and decreased development of new neurons.

“You’re messing with brain plasticity,” Mandyam said, and if the cells are subdued in adolescence, the chances of normal brain cell production later in life are reduced. It is “very devastating to see what binge drinking does to the brains of adolescents”

“What is important for the public to know is that this type of drinking can kill off stem cells.” This loss could result in damage to memory and spatial skills, she adds. Mandyam thinks that this degeneration could have long-term effects and provide a mechanism for why bingeing teens are more likely to develop alcohol dependence as adults. “It’s also important to recognize that binge drinking may produce adverse consequences on the brain regardless of age.”

Monkeys drinking beer

Hangover cure?

Monkey’s brains are extremely similar to humans so it is believed that the findings of this study are likely to be true in human adolescents as well. Adolescents who binge drink on a regular basis, could be causing severe, long-lasting damage to the neural stem cells in their brain. Damage to these cells may potentially cause difficulty with memory and could lead to mental illness. Results of the research imply that the long-term negative effects of binge drinking on an adolescent’s brain could be as serious as believed, if not more.

It has to be made clear though that these monkeys drank roughly about 10-12 bottles of beer daily, every week for a total of just under a year. I repeat DAILY! That is some caveat! No wonder their brains were mush!!!!

Also animal welfare groups condemned the experiments. Plying animals with alcohol in the name of science is irresponsible the argument goes. Better than as part of meal or a new coat? Could be worse me thinks. I am also guessing that if they had asked to use humans they wouldn’t have had a problem finding willing participants for an experiment like this, all in the name of advancing science,


Edmundo and his pet monkey

Edmundo and monkey

Of course when someone mentions monkeys and alcohol to me I immediately remember Edmundo, the “Animal”, the nutcase who used to be play football and was a regular for the Brazilian national team.

The striker threw a party in Rio to mark his son’s first birthday, hiring a chimp and two elephants from a local circus to increase the fun. Edmundo did his own experiment, giving the monkey beer and whisky, almost killing the poor thing with alcohol poison. This landed him in hot water when a paper printed pictures of this act. The animal rights group were in furore, and he was brought to court, fined $1,000 and narrowly avoided six months prison time.

 Sources and links: 

R.M. Palmour and F.R. Ervin.

Alcohol consumption in vervet monkeys: biological correlates and factor analysis of behavioural patterns.

Chitra D. Mandyam, Michael A. Taffe, Roxanne W. Kotzebue, Rebecca D. Crean, Elena F. Crawford, Scott Edwards

Long-lasting reduction in hippocampal neurogenesis by alcohol consumption in adolescent nonhuman primates


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