I’m a blacksmith, that’s my craft. Fantastic you say. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be I retort, but with a glint in my eye I’m pretty proud of what I do. It’s a craft, it’s a skill, it’s not something everyone can do.
My mate Bill’s a carpenter. That’s what he does. Bloody great with fences too. What Bill can’t make out of a piece of wood ain’t worth sitting on.
Andy’s the arty one. Takes all those recycled car parts and makes these bloomin’ great big sculptures out of ‘em. And he can paint too. He’s been on the BBC, and Sky News. Tate Modern they reckon. He doesn’t think so, he’s modest. None of this I-can’t-make-my-bed rubbish either, proper art, crafted from nothing into something beautiful. And Andy don’t half make a bad cuppa either!
None of us have a clue about brewing beer though. We leave that to Malcolm.
Malcolm’s happiest when he’s sat in the basement, wellies to his waist. There’s as much steam coming out of his ears as there is coming from the valves and outlets of his makeshift brewing kit, but we know he’s having the time of his life. The floor is always wet and the smell is unreal – a thick, musty aura of soaked hessian, roasted toffee, damp cereal and unwashed feet. His fingers are tinted green, like a smokers would be yellow. It’s all those hops he fingers, grubby bastard!
Malcolm’s Mash he calls it, when he bobs up from his work for a tea and a bacon sandwich. “Mash’ll be brewing soon, love” he shouts to the wife, knowing she hates the way the stench sticks to his overalls, and the hops cling under his fingernails.
He’ll rush back down to twist a dial, check the heat and get ready for the next big stage. ‘Hop time’ he shouts to himself and in they go, simmering in the kettle. He should weigh the hops, ensure the right ratios, he should fill in the little notebook he keeps with weird numbers and acronyms scribbled everywhere. But he doesn’t need to. He’s not just a conductor, he’s part of the process, and he runs the whole operation on instinct.
Malcolm’s happy again when he sees the smiles on our faces as we sip his beer in the garden after the rugby, or in the kitchen on a cold Saturday in December. He doesn’t smile, but you can see it in the way he looks at his feet, all content and awkward.
God knows how he does it, what with having a day job too (some computer bollocks or something). Damn shame he can’t just jack it in and make beer for a living, because it’s bloody good stuff.
Then he could really call himself a craftsman!