Sunday Sesh #15 – Old Speckled Hen

This Sunday’s Sesh brought to you by Old Speckled Hen, a UK brewed ale. This one was also a tip, by my mate in all things beer, Ang.
I bought a 6-pack of these, so I was hoping they were better than the last Pommy drop I had, Old Fart.

Old Speckled Hen Ale

This one is a dark golden colour, almost the colour of syrup. If you look closely at the bottle, you can see the gassy residue after the first pour.

It’s thinness disguises it’s heaviness. It’s frothy in your mouth, kind of like when you drink softdrink after you’ve had ice-cream. The first mouthful has a distinct and immediate taste of toffee, and it has a lingering bitterness that changes to burnt toffee by the last mouthful.

It’s not a bad ale this one for a Pommy beer, but it’s not something I’d drink in a session. One or two of these would be enough – after that the bitterness would get too much. It’s also one you could keep drinking even after it gets a little bit warm in the bottle or glass.

After finishing my first one, I switched to the Great Northern‘s I had in the fridge from last Sunday to enjoy the cricket with.

This third day of the second test marks fourteen more sleeps until Christmas, so I thought I would write about Christmas spirit this week. No, I’m not talking about the whiskey in the egg nog. I’m talking about the intangible stuff – the stuff we do for people just to make them feel good.

I was thinking back over Christmas’s past in an effort to come up with something funny and witty to write this weekend, when a story basically fell into my lap.

Quiet literally, I was the subject of a little bit of Christmas spirit this last week.

To put the following story in context for you, I’m not a big fan of shopping or shopping centres at the best of times. Christmas just annoys the bejeesus out of me. Too many people walking too slowly, and kids on school holiays gravitate to shopping centres, milling around everywhere, being collective pains in the rear.

I sound a bit like the Grinch, but I really do love Christmas. I just don’t like having to go out and shop amongst it.

Anyway, I was asked to run an errand for Wifey’s Aunt, which meant heading into one of those painful shopping centres to pick up a book, and then pop it in the post. Simple really, unless you’re me.

The girl who served me at the book store couldn’t find the book, until the lady I had spoken to on the phone came and served another customer and remembered me asking for it and where she put it.

Then for some inexplicable reason, I went onto autopilot and walked out the door and was half-way down the street when I realised that the post office was in the same building as the book shop. So, looking like a real goose I u-turned and went back inside and up to the post office.

I wanted to express post the package, but the post office only had HUGE express post bags and tiny document ones (very limited stock, annoys the heck out of me but it’s three blocks closer than the big PO). So I get a normal bag, fill out the addresses and go to stand in line (with the lunch rush of about thirty other people).
I’ve been suffering from sinus lately (thanks to the unseasonal crap cooler weather), so it wasn’t surprising that I sniffled a little bit. The mix of perfume and deodorants in that small PO didn’t help at all either. Anyway, my nose kept running a little so I fished around in my pockets but couldn’t grab the one and only tissue I had because it was underneath my phone – I have deep pockets.
I then did a very bad thing and sneakily just wiped with my finger, only to discover I had a nosebleed. I rush out to go to the toilets but realised that I hadn’t paid for the parcel. I’m standing there in the doorway, hand over my nose, probably looking like an idiot, and thankfully my common sense kicks in – sort of. I race over to the desk, ask if I can leave the parcel there and go to the toilet. She says that’s no problem.

As I rush back out the door I realise I’ve never actually been to the toilets in this centre, and I have no idea where they are, so as I run out the door, I’m scanning around for the signs. Thankfully, they’re on the same floor and just up a bit from the post office. I race off towards them, and there’s a woman, walking slowly, in front of me. The passage-way to the toilets isn’t exactly very wide, and there are people coming out as we’re going in, so I can’t get past without pushing her over.

Her self-preservation instinct must kick in because she turns, very slowly, and sees me rushing towards her. She puts her hand on the toilet door, and she holds it open for me, eyes popping and mouth open. I say a muffled thanks and rush into an empty loo. I plant myself on the seat, pull off wads of toilet paper and push them to my face.

Now, my nosebleeds can last a couple of seconds, or they can last nearly half an hour. They can go away, or they can come back multiple times, with a few hours. I’m hoping that it’s a short one, and I can get it under control at least in time to post the parcel and get back to work. It can bleed all it wants there.

So about this time when I’m listening to flushing and hand-washing going on around me, I remember the parcel, sitting all alone on the counter. I start admonishing myself. While I hadn’t paid for the envelope, I HAD paid for the book. I should have taken the book out of the envelope before I left, just in case, but I was so worried about not bleeding all over the carpet, I just wasn’t thinking straight.

Thankfully, my nosebleed doesn’t last long. I wait until I think all the stalls are empty (only a minute or two more) and go out to clean myself up. There’s one older lady at a sink pedantically washing her hands, and going through her handbag. I casually walk over to a sink, pull out some hand towels, wet them down and start dabbing at my nose. I can see the old lady in the mirror looking at me – she does that little furtive side-ways glance like she’s really curious but doesn’t want me to see that she’s trying not to look.

There’s something so B-grade-movie about cleaning blood off your face in a toilet. The child part of me wants to turn to the old lady and ask “What are you lookin’ at”, just to add to the atmosphere. 

I also have to be extremely careful not to set my nose off again – once it bleeds, it can be set off again without a moments’ notice – I have a very sensitive nose.

So I clean myself up (and the lady doesn’t quite back out of the toilets, but close enough) and I head back to the post office. When I get back the parcel is gone! My worst nightmare has just materialised.

So I’m thinking “That’s just great! It’s Christmas for goodness sakes!”. Actually, the language was a little worse than that but you get the picture. So anyway, I go up to the girl and I ask her what’s happened to it. Apparently, a lady who was standing in line saw me rush past her with my hands to my nose, and she asked the girl what happened when she got to the counter.

And she paid for it! She left the receipt though, so I could be sure it was paid for. How wonderful!!

It was then I thought “Wow! It really is Christmas”.

So thank you to the lady who made my crap day a little brighter and brought a bit of Christmas cheer last week.

Wifey says I now need to do something good for someone else, and I will certainly be looking for that opportunity should it present itself.

This little episode made me realise two things:

1. I’m too much of a pessimist this time of the year, and I need to start acknowledging the good instead of bleating on about the bad.

2. It’s always the smallest things that seem to matter the most.

That’s all for this Sunday’s Sesh, but I am curious – does anyone else have a story like this? I’d love to hear them.

Until next Sunday’s Sesh,


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