The only reason I started drinking was because of peer pressure from my mate Nick. I stayed at university for an extra year to do a masters and he had another year of his engineering degree to go and. Early on, the full horror dawned on him: “I can’t believe I’m stuck in this miserable city with only a teetotaller for company.”
I started drinking to keep him company and soon learned that Nick had a set of rules about pubs and beer:
1. Pubs should be dark brown up to waist height and nicotine brown above.
2. Red Stripe is the go-to beer for most situations, but especially nightclubs and picnics.
3. Beck’s tastes of blood.
4. Stella gives you headaches because it is “dirty”.
5. No-one likes Guinness, but you have to drink it on Sunday lunchtime — “It’s a rule.”
Having only been drinking for about two months, I remember vividly being bullied into getting a pint of Guinness and taking two hours to drink it. It only got worse as, sitting next to a roaring fire, it got warmer and warmer. I’d never tasted anything so bitter or so vile.
I was not reassured by Nick’s Sixth Law:
6. Guinness makes you shit treacle.
These days, of course, Nick is himself teetotal, and I’ve got way more rules about beer and pubs than he ever did.