The beer itself isn’t normally a topic here. But we all have our favourites. Mine is Robinson’s Best, which never tasted so good as when it was pulled in the pub surrounded by the brewery in Stockport on three sides. Seeking to renew my acquaintance, I rang the brewers and asked them which pubs had it in London. They didn’t know, as they just sold it to a beer distributor. I got the number of the distributor, who didn’t know either. I queried that they must, since they really should keep records of this sort of thing for tax purposes. But no. All was lost, until I saw a Beer Seller van, with a Robinsons logo on it. Hallelujah!

One phonecall to the Beer Seller later, I receive news that causes my heart to sink. The only regular taker of said beer is the National Physics Laboratory Sports and Social Club in Teddington.

I’ll have to wait until next year’s CAMRA festival for Robbie’s in London. I went this year, and never got my Robbie’s, mainly because I didn’t get round to it. The whole event was strange. Lots of big-bellied-beasts, and lots of faces that caused a flicker of recognition. I also have a problem with the attempts to rank beer with wine in terms of taste and complexity, to equivocate it with wine as a serious pursuit. It’s a bit like the hoary old Cultural Studies debate about the relative merits of Shakespeare and Coronation Street. Too many try to lift up Corry, when the real point is to undermine Shakespeare and point out that they’re all potboilers devised to pack ’em in that have subsequently been elevated to nigh on religious status by those anxious to prove their superiority over the great unwashed. The key point, surely, is ‘does it taste any good ?’. All else is froth.

But most of all, it was the equivalent of the edge of the abyss. The difference between interest and obsession. I like beer, and love pubs. But the beer is a lubricant of the sociality, not the end in itself. That’s not a view shared by the serious types there. It was similar to the difference between London Transport’s Acton Town Depot and the Covent Garden Transport Museum. But that’s another story.