The time has come to talk of many things, but first let us ponder the humble beer mat. Now I’m no excitable tegestologist, hands all-a-tremble as they caress a Georges Glucose Stout specimen, but there is something to be said for them. They stand for something particularly British; like roast beef and Sid James. So their gradual decline over many years has been something of a disappointment to me.
My thoughts were brought to bear the other day-it’s strange where the mind wanders after a 10 hour bender-on the past and future prospects of these little beauts. A day’s drinking had seen scant evidence of these practical aids, aside from a scattering of what purists would dismiss as keg beer mats. And, by that, I don’t mean they advertise keg although, of course, some do.
No, the purists hanker after proper beer mats that advertise ales of some sort or gild the lily of some brewery or other. But even keg mats, unappealing as they may be aesthetically, will do in a pinch. However, pub chains such as Wetherspoons have hastened their decline and even my local keeps them on the bar for discretionary use.
The reason given that many pubs don’t use them is that they make the place look untidy. With more children than ever roaming wild in the public houses of Britain, it’s said that the little ankle-biters tend to rip and devastate the beer mat stock. And I’m willing to admit that, during my wild, crazy teenage years, I may have vandalised a few innocent mats. But is that a good enough reason to deprive us all?
The interesting punch line to all of this is that I heard some heartening news in the last pub we visited. There has been an increase in demand for beer mats of late. The landlord could not offer any explanation for this and frankly nor can I. But, just maybe, as black is the new black and keg is the new cask; in 2012 perhaps beer mats will be the new, er, beer mat?