Heard on the radio, earlier today:
it’s Mary Hopkin’s sixty-eighth birthday.
She was born just ten days before me,
half-way through the last century.
The mere thought of her hit song
“Those were the Days”, and I’m back there,
in the noise, the alcoholic haze.
Once upon a time there was a tavern,
where we used to raise a glass or two.
Remember how we laughed away the hours,
and dreamed of all the great things we would do.
Those were the days my friend;
we thought they’d never end. . .
Fine songs could be heard, on the jukebox;
they were great years for Pop and Rock.
The Fitzwilliam Arms, known as “The Fitz”;
just Keg Beer in those days, all bubbles and fizz.
And what do we have now, after all these years,
but a strange transformation, in the world of beers.
To an old veteran of the Campaign for Real Ale,
the new “Craft Beers” are beyond the pale.
We thought we’d seen the worst days of inflation,
but injection of gas has caused price escalation.
These illusory, revivified corpses of Keg
now cost the poor punter an arm and a leg.
It seems that these highly-praised, trendy new brews
are available only to the privileged few.
I’m surprised, myself, that I’m now one of those
cynics, decrying the Emperor’s New Clothes.
It’s not what the craft cognoscenti wish to hear,
but a simple question: what’s wrong with real beer?
When I first found out that the singer Mary Hopkin was born ten days before me, I had an idea for a poem that linked her hit song “Those Were the Days” with my first experiences of pub-going in my youth. I then struggled, for weeks, to write the poem, but found it difficult to avoid it just being a facile comment on the passing of time. It was only a few days ago, when I entered a local emporium of craft beers with a friend who is a lifelong lover of “real ale”, that I was able to solve the problem. He surveyed the highly-priced craft beers on display, was not impressed, and walked out of the place, commenting “I don’t know – what’s wrong with real beer?” I suddenly realised I could turn the poem into a commentary on craft beer, and that it would work much better that way.