THIS ROUND’S ON ME
An unfortunate incident involving beer – aged porter to be precise – occurred in London back in 1814.
The central London parish of St Giles was, as slums go, one of the slummiest. Although it has since been rather gentrified with theaters, Covent Garden and the British Museum nearby, it was then mostly squalid housing where immigrants crowded into its ramshackle buildings, often more than one family to a room. Near one end of the parish stood the massive Meux and Company Horse Shoe Brewery, its giant vats filled with thousands of gallons of aging porter.
One particular vat which held over 135,000 gallons had seen better days. Like the shanties surrounding the brewery, it suffered from age, and on October 17 it succumbed, bursting and letting loose enough precious liquid to give all of St. Giles and then some a pretty good buzz, although the fury with which it was released made tippling difficult. Like giant shaken cans of beer, nearby vats ruptured and joined the game of dominoes.
Within minutes the brick structure that was the Meux and Company Horse Shoe Brewery was breached, and the deluge roared down Tottenham Court Road, flinging aside or burying in debris anyone or anything in its path.
Homes caved in. A busy pub crumbled, burying a buxom barmaid and her ogling patrons for several hours. All in all, nine people were killed by drink that day. Those who didn’t lose their lives lost everything they owned to evil alcohol. Soon after the suds subsided, survivors rushed in to save what they could of the precious brew, collecting one or more for the road in pots and cans.
St. Giles smelled like the morning after a particular robust party for weeks. The brewery was later taken to court over the accident, but they pleaded an “Act of God,” and the judge and jury bought it, leaving them blameless. The brewery even received reparations from the government. God, it would seem, has a soft spot for brewers.
I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Alice in Donaldland, Part 6: A Grinning Cat
Read Part 1
Alice stood at a crossroads, wondering which way she ought to go. As she pondered, a large Cat appeared on the branch of a tree a few feet away. When the Cat spotted Alice, it grinned at her. She had never known a Cat to grin before and didn’t even know a Cat could grin. It looked rather good-natured, but it had very long claws and a great many teeth so Alice thought it wise to treat the Cat with respect.
“What sort of cat are you?” Alice asked. “You must be happy, smiling like that.”
“I’m a Cheshire, “answered the Cat. “And I always smile.”
“Cheshire? Wouldn’t that make you a cheese?”
“Have you ever seen a cheese smile?”
“I guess not. Well Mr. Cheshire Cat, sir, I wonder if you might tell me which way to go?”
“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where — ”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
” — so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added.
“In that direction lives a Hatter,” the Cat said , pointing. “And in that direction lives a March Hare. Visit either; they’re both mad.”
“Oh dear, I don’t want to go among mad people.”
You can’t help that. We’re all mad in Donaldland. Speaking of which, are you going to play golf with the Queen today?”
“I should like to,” said Alice. “But I haven’t been invited.”
“Oh you needn’t be invited. All that’s required is signing a nondisclosure agreement.”
“What would I not be disclosing?”
“Oh I can’t disclose that.”
“Where would I find the Queen’s Court?”
“There are several courts. There’s the Tennis Court, the Basketball Court, and the Supreme Court. At the Tennis Court, the Queen’s subjects serve.”
“What do they serve?”
“Why the Queen of course. At the Basketball Court, everyone runs about madly, stealing chickens and turkeys and partridges. When they’ve collected five fowls, they get to sit down. The Supreme Court is where things are decided; it’s divided into three wings.”
“No, no, no. Groups of deciders. There’s the liberal wing, the conservative wing, and the sexual predator wing and they all make decisions. But the Queen tells them what their decisions are.”
“It sounds like a Kangaroo Court,” scoffed Alice.
“Kangaroo Court, that’s rich. I like that.” The Cat’s grin widened. “Perhaps I’ll see you there. Ta ta.” And with that the Cheshire Cat began to disappear until only it’s grin remained. Alice, having already forgotten who lived which way, picked a path and started off. As it turned out, it didn’t matter which path because she came to a clearing with a large table, and both the Hatter and the Hare were crowded into one corner. A Dormouse sat on the table between them.
Part 7, Coming Tuesday