Gratitude and Debts

For what I do with my (limited) spare time, I owe three people. But one person more than others. And I can blame him for everything.

It all started on 21st September 2012. A date that I can remember via the records of others. That was the date that the recently resurrected (and name abbreviated) Dexys played at Bridgewater Hall.

But I digress. Let’s go from the start.

For some years I’d had the germ of an idea. A seed that refused to grow. That idea was to buy a digital camera and take photos of Manchester pubs. And build a website, a website dedicated to those beautiful communal edifices. But, I was a coward. Dithered. Couldn’t be arsed.

Then, in 2012, I joined Twitter and started to virtually stalk an old friend I’d not seen in a few years.

Let’s veil him. Let’s call him “The Music Man”.

I would read his brief descriptive tweets. I was like a greedy fish on a well baited hook. And I bit. And kept chewing on those bite sized chunks of beer intelligence.

And that seed started to germinate.

Then, on 21st September 2012, we met. In a bar I’d never visited. Brew Dog on Peter Street (A place of huge importance to the current Manchester Beer Scene – but that post needs to be written by someone MUCH smarter than I)

That night, somebody else had agreed to meet “The Music Man”. Let’s veil him – thinly – and call him “The Gig Monster”.

I’d known both since my mid – late teens. Since 6th form college in Salford.

That night, briefly, we attempted to catch up on almost 30 years.

One of the things I mentioned was that “seed”. And how it started to germinate upon reading “The Music Man’s” tweeting. “The Gig Monster” told me to go for it. So I did.

It is no exaggeration to say that that exhortation changed my life.

This blog started almost immediately following that encouragement.

I sometimes like to embarrass myself reading those initial beery fumblings. Looking for something. Something to make “mine”. I found that focus after about a year of incoherence.

The North. Beer from The North of England.

But still I felt…… that I was guessing at what I was saying. I don’t lie, I truly mean and believe what I say – always have – but just something felt wrong.

Then I bought a book. It was called “Let Me Tell You About Beer”. It was written by someone called Melissa Cole. And it taught me how to actually taste beer. Techniques to extract almost every last molecule of aroma and flavour from each mouthful.

It blew the cobwebs from my feeble brain.

I don’t ‘know’ Melissa particularly well. But we have met. And I have thanked her in person. I don’t look up to many, but I do to that young lady.

Anyways. Back to “The Music Man”.

He is a known “face” in Manchester Beer circles. I never forget going to a beer event and approaching the bar whilst taking the pith out of him. The guy behind the bar scowled at me. “Leave him alone. Everybody loves (The Music Man)”

That was me told.

“The Music Man” is a member of that commonly derided sub species of beer humanity known as a “Ticker”. He’ll go to places and drink things I never would.

He introduced me to breweries that I subsequently adored. Like Wigan Brewhouse, Offbeat, Mallinsons, enduring beer loves of mine.

We’ve travelled together. Left friends face down in drink whilst we continued to carouse.

He’s utterly solid. A lighthouse in the darkness following our tragedy pre #ISBF3. Didn’t need to say anything. He was just there. Drying my tears. A metaphorical arm around my sagging shoulders. He allowed me to ramble, to let it out. A kindness that it’s useful to remember. He didn’t (and doesn’t) judge.

A true friend.

I learned at his feet. He introduced me – directly and otherwise – to the great and the good of Manchester Beer. And much further afield.

Without “The Music Man”, “The Gig Monster” and Melissa, there would now be no blog. There would be no Independent Salford Beer Festival.

Without “The Music Man” & “The Gig Monster” I would flounder around for a weekend in Salford. Lost.

Without “The Music Man”, my current life would be an awful lot poorer

What little I know. What little I have done in this little beer bubble, is down – primarily – to those 3.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s right that you acknowledge your debts.

So. To these 3, I bow. Sorry if I’ve embarrassed you.

Especially “The Music Man”. But some things just need saying.