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Displacement activity

It is a truth universally acknowledged that writers will do anything rather than write, and, if absolutely compelled to write, will write anything but the thing they should be writing.

This morning I received the following e-mail from Michael Jecks, whose murder mysteries bring fourteenth century Devon to life – and to violent death.

Dear Jean

Well, I was planning on making five gallons of beer tonight. My daughter wanted to help, but since Jane was away, I had to wait until I’d got Billy Basher to sleep before I could make a start. So that was all evening until 7.30 before I could chuck him in his bed and tell the little monster that two stories was his allocation and he’d had three already and wasn’t getting another “Winnie the Witch” tonight. So downstairs.

And I had a brainwave. You see, I have three pressure barrels. So I reckoned, hey, why not brew up twice the quantity in my kettle, and then water them down? That way instead of brewing only five gallons, I’d be making ten. Double the beer for the same effort, eh? Good idea? Yup. That’s what I thought. So I chucked in fourteen pounds of grain to the water. And then . . .

You see, you go ahead with the best of intentions, and then there is the law of unintended consequences.

I had now brewed enough to fill two five gallon containers with beer. Good. Fine. Except I only had one that was ready to be used. I have several others – most are so old they won’t do. Three are fine. One had five gallons of ale I made last week. OK. One was empty. Good. Um. The other was also full, though, waiting with five gallons of lager, until I could be bothered to clean, disinfect and wash intensively forty bottles. Bugger. So I had to clean forty Grolsch bottles ready to be used, disinfect them, rinse them, and then fill them. Then I had to disinfect and rinse the main barrel. Brilliant. That cost me another three hours. By now my little helper had been sent to her pit. And I carried on. The lagers are now out in the shed. Great. And I had to carry on cleaning out the beer barrels. And I succeeded. Yippee! The things were ready and done, and no problem. So I sparged (oh, bloody well look it up) the malt and got all ready, then put everything back in the brew kettle. Except suddenly the bleeding kettle sprang a leak, and Berry, the Ridgeback, was all over the floor licking like a puppy in heaven. I had to empty the kettle, hoping like hell I’d not compromised the cleanliness etc, then check the seal on teh tap, change it, bugger about for an age, and then watch for another hour and a half while the hops boiled. And I didn’t have the right hops. This is not, I thought, a good evening. Still, all done at last. My second boil’s hopefully done now. It’s one fifteen. I have to be up in six hours for the puppy.

I haven’t finished the newsletter.



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