Is it because you are thinking about something that you start seeing it all around you, or is it because you are seeing something that you start thinking about it? Chicken and egg stuff. All I know is that, at the moment, every programme I watch on the TV seems to have someone going to the pub. Every drama, every film, every cop show: at some point the plotline involves a pub visit. And, of course, all of these programmes were filmed in a time long before Coronavirus made a trip to the pub a mere memory.
It is the previous casualness of being able to go to the pub that makes the loss so hard to bear; the matter of factness of “Do you fancy a pint?”; the assumption of the ever-open door.
Who could have imagined a time when the pub would exist like a Tantalean torment: unobtainable, although within clear sight.
I don’t know whether it is the delirium of cold turkey, but I have found my thoughts taking me back to some of my earliest beer memories. It is the 1970s and, for me at that time, beer was synonymous with two alliterative words: Double Diamond.
From its first inception in 1822, the DD trademark being registered in 1876, and the name Double Diamond first appearing in 1934, by the 1950s Double Diamond was Britain’s best-selling bottled beer. The 1950s advertising campaign was aimed at responsible white-collar workers with the slogan “The Beer that Men Drink”. During the 1960s this phrase evolved into “DD Works Wonders” and by the 1970s to “You Know where You are with DD”.
And it was during the 1970s that Double Diamond reached its peak of popularity, and also during this same decade that it underwent something of an image change. Long before, Britpop and the new laddism of FHM and Loaded in the 1990s, Double Diamond introduced an unlikely hero of early laddism in the form of Brian, played by actor Billy Hamon, and his piping-voiced groom in the “I’m Only Here for the Beer” TV commercial.
“I’m Only Here for the Beer” occupied only the briefest period of TV history, but it quickly became a meme for all occasions. At one point during the early 1970s, there was almost no question that couldn’t be answered, no conversation that couldn’t be finished, and no social situation that couldn’t be made more humorous, by the jokey rejoinder: “I’m Only Here for the Beer”.
Amongst a certain social class of pub-going men the phrase practically replaced coherent discourse.
And then it disappeared as swiftly as it had appeared. And, with it, disappeared Double Diamond. No so swiftly, but irrevocably, nevertheless.
And now, almost a half century later and with the pubs all shut, there is not even anywhere left where I can legitimately say “I’m Only Here for the Beer” and at least make a modicum of sense. I’m am left with a jokey catchphrase but nothing to laugh about.
© Beery Sue
Beery Sue takes a trip down memory lane.