Monday 27 April 2020

Old Beer Ads #15 - Oranjeboom (1983)

Continuing the lockdown-inspired practice of blog grave-robbing, I'm digging up a series I've not posted on for 5 years.  This is also partially inspired by the return of Van Der Valk to the UK's TV screens.

Belying it's current reputation a black-tinned cornershop-stocked super-strength filth, Oranjeboom pilsner was once quite popular in the UK, and was promoted with ads such as this, rammed full of all the Dutch stereotypes the copywriters could think of.  And as we all know, the only tune to come out of the Netherlands was "Eye Level", used as the theme tune to the aforementioned Amsterdam-set detective show.  One presumes the agency couldn't get a whole Edam cheese to ride a bicycle next to a canal, so they went for animated kitchen tiles.  No doubt a similar effect could be acheived by drinking several cans of Oranjeboom 8.5 at home.

Ironically, despite the Low Countries overload presented here, the end of the ad proudly proclaims it's now brewed in the UK, joining the plethora of faux-Eurolagers that were depressingly common in the 80s.  Just like "Eye Level" itself, a 'Dutch' tune orchestrated by a man from Market Harborough.

As a bonus, here's the Simon Park Orchestra on Top Of The Pops in 1973, when the BBC had to have them on as "Eye Level" had got to #1.  And of course they had to wear orange jumpers.  Because Holland, y'know?

Saturday 18 April 2020


Aren't I lucky? A shelf full of Bucky
During these strange times, you often find yourself doing things to fill up the day.  Stuff that you would never normally do and that others would find quite peculiar.  Such as making a jewellry box out of laser-cut plywood, or recording Gene Pitney's hits onto cassette tape, or doing group video chats while consuming unwise amounts of whisky.  Such is life when there a no pubs to go to, and no immediate sign of there being so in the near future.

For me, the past two weeks have been like this - get up, go to work, stay there till Midnight (for maximum social distancing), go home, eat, have a few beers and go back to bed.  The thing about this routine, is you have very little to look forward too at the end of the week.  Basically, it's the same as a work day, only without the work.

And as such, you try to find the smallest thing about your old life to hang onto.  With me, it will be Buckfast Sunday.  Let me explain - every Sunday at 3pm, myself and few other regulars at a local micropub have a glass of the infamous Buckfast Tonic wine.  Like all the best traditions, nobody really knows how it started (or even how a craft beer focused bar ended up stocking notorious Ned juice). 

We've all sent out the Twitter messages to each other saying we've got the stuff in (I ordered 4 bottles from the Whisky Exchange to make the postage worthwhile) and we're all chilling them ready for tomorrow's online Bucky sharing.  Daft, I know.  But it's the little things that remind you the most of better times.

If anyone else has Bucky in, you're welcome to join us.  And if you end up wreckin' the hoose after you've drunk a whole bottle, it will at least give you something different to do afterwards.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Herb Alpert, Huggy Bear and Isopropanol

The TJB not observing social distancing rules
The whole of the UK is in lockdown at present.  But while the roads are quiet, there have been other sounds.  The rusty squeals and grinding clanks of previously moribund blogs coming back to life.  Some would say it's because their authors quite literally have nothing better to do.  With me, it's because the whisky and Green Devil have run out.

The second week of March seems like an awfully long time ago now, doesn't it?  I'd booked it off way back in September, and made vague plans (thankfully unacted upon - prevarication has been my friend for once) to do "stuff" involving travel and pubs.  At work, I'd seen the obvious signs of panic buying  but thought, well, they should be able to cope.  I got home, stuck some Herb Alpert on the turntable and relaxed.

I was roundly disabused of this when, 10 minutes into my first working day off, the phone rang asking me if I'd come in.  Sadly, I declined, for the banal reason that all my uniform was presently going round in the washing machine.  I told them I would go in the next day and the rest of the week.  As long as I had the Thursday off.  Why?  Well...

As always, I was in the pubs on Sunday and Monday.  Everyone was trying their best to maintain "social distance", but some of these places are rather poky and it wasn't quite working out.  Though I don't really see myself as some kind of Huggy Bear figure (though undoubtedly I dress even less tastefully), the Word On The Street was the pubs would all be shut down from Sunday evening.  There were rumours of Friday closure, but these were discounted as it would probably result in what sociologists call "utter carnage" that night.

Needs must
The week ticked on, and everyone watched the latest Coronavirus updates on the news.  And, as we can see in hindsight, the messages weren't encouraging.  Stay inside if at all possible.  Maintain 2 metres distance from people at all times.  And don't go shopping for non-essentials or go to pubs and restaurants. But we're not shutting them down.  "Hmm," I thought "I can see where this is going."  And that is why I had that Thursday off.  It was likely the last time I'd be able to go out for the forseeable future.  I packed my bottle of isopropanol (usually used for cleaning electronics, but hand sanitiser had long ago run out) and went to town.  And yes, dear reader, I got absolutely hammered.  Buckfast, Bud Light, evil keg filth, cask ale, spirits.  I had it all that night.  I even went to Spoons.  I'm glad I did, as on Friday afternoon, the Government announced that all pubs were to close from midnight.

After that, back to work it was.  Prioritising lines, moving labels around to maximise fill, watching pasta and toilet rolls vanish in minutes.  All the usual panic buying fun and games.  But not for long, as a member of my household came down with "symptoms" and I've been in self-isolation for the last 12 days.  As I'm healthy so far, I should be returning to the shop on Thursday.

In the meantime, I've been listening to yet more Herb Alpert, ordering beer takeouts from a nearby pub (someone should invent a sparkler for those growler things, though) and eating digestive biscuits.  Thankfully, my personality is such that I'm not going stir-crazy despite not having left the house since 25th March.  I'll be fine.  Just remember to stay in, wash your hands, only shop for necessities etc. etc. etc.   And if you're stuck for stuff to do, maybe resurrect an old blog?