How to bluff – by an expert
I love folk music. I know nothing about folk music.
I love real ale. I know nothing about real ale.
I love women. But apparently…
Let’s talk about the first two. Last week I had two special occasions – the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall and here in Reading our annual Beer & Cider Festival at its new home on Christchurch Meadows.
Now I’ve been meaning to go to the folk awards for years, and so with them being in London the opportunity finally arose. So off I went to the RAH (sadly not sold out – shame on you Southern England). This was an interesting time for folk – some of the old guard have taken five, at least for a while, leaving the field open for a new breed of singers and group to take the limelight. I do listen frequently to the Folk Show of a Wednesday evening – but I tend to listen & enjoy the tunes without finding out who’s performing them. Therefore, upon picking up my programme I was confronted with a double page spread of people I’d probably heard from but not of (although there were the familiar names of Joan Armatrading, Mark Knopfler, and performing a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Sandy Denny, Rufus Wainwright).
And yet, I politely clapped every nominee on announcement and then cheered enthusiastically as the winners picked up their prizes, nodding sagely to those sat seated around me.
Ladies & Gentlemen – please join me as we enter the world of the bluffer.
It was an exhilarating event. It’s moved around the country, so book up if it comes to a city near you. I certainly will when it next comes south. But the fact is I pretended for three hours that I knew every note, every strum, every peep of what was presented to me. I got by and had a great evening.
You go to the pub, which I honestly do rarely. And if I wasn’t following the local folk-rock scene I wouldn’t do at all in Reading. There you’re faced (hopefully) with a cornucopia at the bar. You panic. You end up ordering the fizz they advertise on TV. Which is always a mistake. Then imagine going to the beer festival and you’re confronted with half a thousand beers, porters, ciders and ales from across the UK. You can’t fall back on the fizz for this is the beer festival.
Fortunately, along with your complimentary souvenir pint glass you get a programme listing all the beverages on offer with their strengths and tasting notes. You can then circle potential purchases and then pretend like you know what you’re doing. The bluff…
- So how did I choose the four half pints I took on the Friday afternoon? Well, Gary Shaw of the Resident Weeble blog asked my opinion and I told him:
I looked at the coconut matting under the kegs and saw which one had the largest damp patch.
Something local (from the West Berkshire Brewery)
Something very un-local (from the Orkneys – didn’t want it to have a wasted journey).
Something where the name of the brewer or the brew contained the word “cat”.
I think I got away with it…
In the end – if you enjoy something there’s no need to become an expert in it.
But you will find that you’ll enhance your enjoyment of it if you do look into things a lil’ closer.
I’ll continue to enjoy folk music, drink in moderation, but women will remain outside of my full understanding in perpetuity…