TALES FROM THE TAP ROOM NUMBER 5
More on White Coats. It is the end of the day and also a birthday. Sometimes the Tap Room moves off towards a pub , still to sample, of course but also to appreciate Britain’s pub culture, threatened though it is.
Andy is smiling. Someone has written in about White Coats, and it has set him reflecting. “Some while ago, I worked for a Brewery, not a million miles away, that was renowned in the trade for parsimony. After I had been there for some while, an economy measure was introduced by which the Head Brewer became responsible for laundry of the White Coat, which would henceforth be restricted to 4 per year. Now as you know, brewing is a hands-on craft, physical and often messy, so a White Coat may last a day, rarely more.
My wife was less than pleased by this news. She suggested that the Brewery should buy us an industrial washing machine and pay her by the hour her services, (by her own admission, she is a slow ironer) The Brewery did not reply. Foolishly.
Over the next few weeks I wore my HB coat to work, sporting a variety of shades of grey to daunt a novelist. Creases appeared horizontally across my back, lovingly ironed in. Occasionally we moved to bleak brown, almost a relief after the grey monotony; in fact, the sleeves were almost relief maps in themselves. The best one, however, was when summoned to a full board meeting, I appeared in a delicate but distinct shade of pink. This was immaculately ironed, crisp and precise.
At the end of the meeting, I was taken quietly aside with a request that I ensure total whiteness in future.
My wife was inspired. She used concentrated bleach in which she marinated the White Coats. They become white. But all the threads rotted. One sleeve came off in a meeting. A pocket collapsed leaving a spillage of pens and business cards. Finally, one Friday the entire coat fell apart form collar to hem, leaving me with, effectively, two flapping wings – this, in front of “Distinguished Visitors”
By the following Monday, I had 5 new coats on my desk and Brewery-funded laundry rights were reinstated…… My wife went shopping in a rather celebratory way”
“Nowadays“ he continued “we usually wear a fleece for work. The White Coat has become symbolic. Nowadays, not many independent Brewers would try to keep the Head brewer apart from the “Suits”! Craftsmanship is too important.”
Time for another sip, and then, I think, he heads home after another 11 hour day.