Beer: Making People Witty and Clever Since 9,000 BC

Day 9 cntd (18th July 2009)

The Angel and Crown (Mill Hill East) 2 x ½ Bulmers £3.00

JW Basks Outside The Angel and CrownI think we were dreading this one a little bit.  Our never less than brilliant research had us looking for the Railway Engineer, and all the reviews we had seen so far were pointing to something truly horrible.

It was a tremendous relief then, to these nervous travellers, to find The Angel and Crown – a recently refurbished pub that was not nearly as bad as expected.  Yes it was basically a large estate pub, but it had benefitted from a lick of paint and some TLC in both the main bars.  We strolled into the back bar, where they had two pool tables and pictures of the Rat Pack around the walls, and, more importantly, a giant TV on one wall showing a bit of the Open.  Other good things included a lovely big fireplace in the front room and an interesting looking menu. Slightly less good was the fact that there were two hand pumps but no ale on, and a slightly dull range of beers all round. They had Bulmers on draught, and it was very, very cold.

We sat back and supped up whilst watching Tom Watson stride around the course like a man 30 years younger. So close Tom, so close. We then strode back to the tube station (probably like men 30 years older), only to find that we had the choice of a ten minute wait for a train, or a trip up the road on the bus to get us back on track.  However by the time we had wandered around and worked out which bus we were supposed to get it was time to get on the train anyway. It’s good to make use of your spare time efficiently.


INTERLUDE: Essential Pub Conversations Number 12 – What are the Greatest Inventions and the Greatest Discoveries Ever?

We started on this one early in the day – in fact before we’d even made it as far as a pub. It had been previously suggested to us by several people that we should have a conversation covering the greatest inventions of all time.

“Too easy” I said. “Won’t it just be stuff like fire?”

“Surely that was a discovery rather than an invention” Replied Keith.

Good point. We argued around this for a bit and decided that we needed help.  It was time to go interactive for the first time ever on our pub debates. We sent out a text message to pretty much everyone on our phones and posed the essential question:

“The Pub Crawlers urgently need your help!  What was the greatest invention ever, and what was the greatest discovery of all time?”

Some people sensibly ignored us altogether and got on with their lives, but a surprising number of folk were intrigued enough to give an opinion on this inane pub based drivel. Thank you all – the answers ranged, as we hoped they would, from the sensible to the inspired, and from the vaguely silly to the downright rude. Some examples:

Greatest Invention: The Steam Engine, The Internal Combustion Engine, The Wheel, T’Internet, The I-pod, The Printing Press, The Brewery,  The Computer, The Television, Language, Money, or Chocolate. Oh, and Mrs West claimed it was Champagne, which is a great suggestion, but does say plenty about her flamboyant nature and expensive tastes.

Greatest Discovery: That the Earth is round, That the Earth revolves around the sun, Fire, Gravity, The laws of motion, Penicillin, Electricity, or possibly Fairies at the bottom of the garden.

A couple more random suggestions. What about something from a good friend who is a father of 3 (and shall remain nameless) –

“The Best Invention ever is probably the contraceptive sheath. Or failing that, Calpol.”

Or some highbrow thoughts from eldest West brother Gareth.

“In time, the greatest discovery of all time will be proven to be DNA.  Its full importance is almost impossible to calculate at this point. Greatest invention? Probably Beer, or moist toilet paper.”

Or even this suggestion from a friend who was truly invested in our mission –

“Best Invention is The London Underground. Best Discovery is the nearest pub to each station!”

One particularly risqué friend went all adult on us and claimed that the greatest discovery ever was the Clitoris.  This was immediately rejected by a female friend on the grounds that at least 50% of males clearly hadn’t discovered it yet.

Of course, it was never in doubt what the winner was likely to be considering a) the nature of our mission, and b) the type of sociable and well-lubricated people that we spend our time with. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to announce to you that:

The Greatest Discovery ever is FERMENTATION, and the Greatest Invention ever is BEER.

To support this, firstly, a quote from the author Dave Barry –

“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”

And if there was any lingering doubt in anyone’s mind, Mr Lewis stepped forward with this irrefutable piece of wisdom –

“Beer has been around for over 10,000 years, and is the basis of all civilization.  This is because until this point most of the people of the world were nomadic, following animals from place to place. But they realised that growing grain could provide them with bread and beer and therefore they put down roots, stayed in one place and developed societies.”

And that’s a fact.


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