I’ve always been a fan of the humble beer mat. I used to badger my parents to bring a couple home with them on their rare visits to the pub and I kept them all for many years. It was only when we moved home, and I donated them to a Florida friend in return for one of his US army regiment beer mugs did I part with them. There was a comforting thought that his Jacksonville man-pad would have my 40 year old beer mats adorning the walls, rather than the carefully stored things ending up as landfill.
These days I don’t collect beer mats, but instead I thought it would be an jolly mischievous wheeze to swap them from one pub to another. When I was a younger man I always favoured the mischievous; for 4 years straight our horrible nosy neighbours would receive a Christmas card from “Beryl and Tony” and refer to them all having met on holiday a few years ago. Worse, the card would suggest that “Beryl and Tony” might be in the area and might drop by on Boxing Day. We posted the cards from out of the area, and I always wondered if they stimulated idle comment and speculation between Nadine and Peter about who “Beryl and Tony” were and why they couldn’t remember them. Perhaps more likely, they realised it was the grungy students living opposite having a laff. Still it was worth the price of a stamp, and hopefully not too many mushroom condensed soup vol au vents died an uneaten death “just in case” those mystery guests appeared.
Anyway, thus a real ale bar in Seville got an addition of a Marble Brewery drip mat, and a bar in Liverpool got a drip mat I secured in Portugal. Obviously, not all of my beer mat swaps have been so exotic but there has been a slow redistribution of beer mats between various venues in Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds. My exploits are recorded on Twitter variously as #BeerMatSwap #DripMatExchange or variations thereof, although I don’t always remember to post a picture of my exploits. It’s all wacky in my middle aged world, dear reader.
One thing I have realised however is that creating a social movement can be a very lonely existence; if I check on Twitter the only references to the art of beer mat swapping are posted by me. I might be ploughing a lone furrow at the moment, however I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before Britain wakes up to the idea of slipping a drip mat in their back pocket, and replaced it with one already in their hands. It kind of feels like a two fingers up to Corporate Britain where big beer co, like all their beers to be served in branded glasses, and the tables to be adorned with branded beer mats, menus and the like.
So, if one day you discover a stray Magic Rock beer mat amongst the Carling Black Label arranged drip mats on the table, then remember where you heard it first; better still, why not join this growing social movement; I’m kind of hoping a 100% increase in activity might be on the cards in 2018.