Friday, 21 November 2008

An Ambition FulPhilled

I am shamed. A scrolls-distance ago on this wordstring I vomited up a few elongated paragraphs about my booze obsession. I burbled on that my desire to try different beers had rendered me socially maladaptive – or a ‘ticker’. Well, I lied. I have since discovered that my condition isn’t even worthy of a citation in a footnote, in the appendix, of the diagnosis - I met Phill The Pint, a man who has just notched up 5000 unique ales.

I knew him already, of course I did. He was ‘that bloke’. You know how pub acquaintances work. Names are rarely exchanged despite the various eruptions of whinge, bile and wind that pass for human interaction in pubs. And so even after a year of sitting two stools down from him, I thought of him as the chap who sounds like Dr. Phil Hammond.

In fact, didn’t that always strike you as odd in Cheers? So they made the boast in the title song but if the show had any basis in reality the final scene wouldn’t have been Sam flicking off the lights, but Carla checking Cliff’s grey nametag.

Anyway the above comparison to the pathologically unfunny Dr. Phil is unfair. And not just because of the extra L, this Phill’s material has more of a Les Dawson feel to it. Not the final-honed highly affectionate gags creamed over by the cardigans on Britain’s Best Ever Comedians That We’ve Got Clips Of, it is more the sweepings from Channel 4’s 50 Masters Of Misogyny.

But Phill is a proper ticker. And there are three ways of verifying this fact. One is that he always drinks halves. The second is that he will willingly enter a Wetherspoons. Thirdly and finally, he carries around a list of every single draught real-ale he’s ever had.

But it isn’t some pocket book with copperplate script and ornate illumination on the A in Abbey. It is a print out - a cold and unromantic collection of perforated pages seemingly time-warped straight from the wheels of a daisywheel printer. Not for Phill the now BNP-endorsed delights of Excel, because these perforated pages conceal in their six-inch thick folds and 9-point lettering, the immense number British-only draught beers that he has tasted - A heavy testament to one man’s battle against his liver, the Amstrad PCW8256 and LocoScript.

And I mention this not because it makes me feel better that I keep no such dead-tree record, that at least my computer doesn’t have a green-screen or that I’ve done it with a girl. Instead it is because last Wednesday Phill finally broke through the 5000 beer-barrier with the help of Chris from Twerton's The Royal Oak and five West Country brewers who created one-off beers especially for the man himself.

And for that I applaud Phill, while also coughing up an almost inaudible ‘nerd’.