“So I was thinking of starting a tea blog,” I said with a lighthearted chuckle.
The conference hall fell silent. Someone dropped a teku glass and it smashed loudly, spilling its third of sour, but no one paid it any notice. All seventy five pairs of eyes were on me.
In an effort to disarm the situation I gave them my best smile but it was too late. A Large Hand landed on my small shoulder. “We think it might be time for you to leave, sir,” a voice hissed into my ear.
I half turned and caught sight of the well-suited Large Man who owned the Large Hand that now squeezed my shoulder with firm, bone-crushing authority. A subtle tiepin identified which Large Brewery he worked for. Over his shoulder, which was not small, another Large Man was calling for a taxi.
The gravity of the situation began to buckle my knees. Beer and blood started sweating through my forehead. I felt dizzy. “Yes, of course, how terribly inappropriate of me. Perhaps a sit down and a nice cup of tea…”
The room winced audibly at the mention of tea. Someone dropped another teku glass. The Large Man conveyed me to the door. It opened, suddenly revealing a pitching, heaving sea of foaming lager where the exit had been. A plank made of beer mats extended out from the doorway, pieces falling off it into the violent lager ocean below.
Someone pushed me and I thrashed, arms flailing wildly, suddenly struggling to swim against the thick, viscous fluid. It had now become Imperial IPA and someone was saying something that sounded like “…let’s barrel age him in this for a year and then drink him at the next conference…” but, later it turned out, it had actually been Chris saying “Wake up you bloody fool! You’re having gin nightmares.”
I rose to the surface, gasping and thrashing and chewing for air, and found Chris sat on an airplane seat next to me. “Keep it down. The cabin staff are becoming dangerously agitated. They want to stop the plane and throw you into the Irish sea.”
“Haha did you know in Ireland they have Irish breakfast tea instead of English breakfast tea and in Cornwall they call it Cornish breakfast but I don’t think they have an equivalent in Scotland did you drink any Scottish breakfast last year I drank haggis.”
“No more of this tea talk, you’re scaring the other passengers,” he growled.
I tried to move and found my shirt plastered to my skin like Sellotape; the sweat has formed an industrial grade adhesive bond. “Are we back in London yet?”
“Back? We just left. We land in Dublin shortly,” Chris peered at me, studying the size of my skull. “You’ve had too much gin. Or not enough. It’s hard to tell, but there’s one way to find out. Stewardess, four gins here please.”
The stewardess looked doubtful and gave me an icy glare. Chris continued, “He needs it for his heart. His blood is too thick for this altitude. The gin thins the blood. You don’t want a severe case of chronic craftitis on your hands, do you? There’s only one cure – the patient must be immersed in barrel-aged Imperial IPA…”
That set me off. I began howling and thrashing again. The stewardess hurriedly returned with an armful of miniatures and some tonic. The flight went smoothly after that.
In Dublin airport they were about ready to have us put in quarantine when they smelt the gin oozing from our pores, but then Chris Explained Our Position; he made them understand we were on a king-hell of a mission, a pair of beer bloggers here to look into the heart of the Irish Craft Beer Scene and take back with us whatever it decided to show us. After that they looked at us with appreciation and offered to grant us Diplomatic Immunity and an escort to our hotel, but we turned it down, “No thank you, sir, we just want to drink shoulder to shoulder with good fine folk such as yourself. Gin? No? Is that the stand for the bus going into town over there, thank you very much…”
It would be a hellish 45 minute journey into town from there but plenty of time to sober up ahead of the pub crawl, assuming we didn’t stop for a few lemonades on the way.