The Brewer’s Lent

It was the twenty fourth day of Lent, and Robert Sherman was beginning to realise why a lot of people didn’t want to be on the PCC.

That being said, he was alright with flogging himself during Lent.

Sure, he was doubtful at first, and it was a struggle at the start, but soon it got so ingrained into his morning routine that he no longer noticed the pain.

Besides, at least he didn’t need to do it on his birthday.

In fact, the main issue would be remembering to stop flagellating himself after Lent was over.

As the 6:00am alarm buzzed as it always did, Robert shot out of bed, had a shower, and flogged himself twenty four times like it was nothing in a matter of minutes.

After a bowl of musli, Robert turned the machinery on for the first time in a month in order to brew some Throckmorton Ale ready for the Hangman’s Noose reopening in May, hopefully to remain open for quite a while yet.

Whilst the machinery was whirring, Robert decided to continue writing his proposed Lower Strangling Anthem that he’d written during lockdown, akin to Ireland’s rugby anthem that he loved, even though he wasn’t Irish.

He’d written it as a replacement to Jerusalem, which was an adopted anthem for the village, as he felt it was best to have a song that was actually about the village, instead of a hymn that vaguely hints at something that may or may not have happened in the 1st Century.

Despite his best efforts, he’d failed to impressed the rest of the Village Council enough to make it official but he decided to continue writing it anyway, just as something to do.

As he wrote the third refrain (Lower Strangling/Lower Strangling/let’s all have a pint in Lower Strangling) he was interrupted by a surprise visitor.

“Morning, Robert,” a gruff voice said behind him.

“Aggh!” Robert said before turning round, stepping back a few feet, and whipping on his face mask.

“I was going for a walk and decided to drop in on you,” John, Robert’s manager and the owner of the Hangman’s Noose, asked before putting on his face mask. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything?”

“No, no. I’m just brewing some beer,” Robert replied.

“So you’ve decided to get the machinery whirring again?” John enquired. “It’s all go, isn’t it?”

“It is, yes. I like to be prepared,” Robert responded.

“Yes, indeed you do,” John said.

“How’s the back?” John asked a bit a later.

“It’s fine, actually,” Robert said. “I hardly notice a thing, anymore. The flagellation is simply a thing I do in the morning, now.”

“Good, good,” John responded. “I suppose I’m getting used to it now. But I’m definitely looking forward to Easter.”

“Oh yes, I am as well.” Robert replied. “But, I don’t have a problem with flogging myself anymore.”

“Hmm,” John said.

Just then, John noticed a sheet of paper behind Robert. “You’re not still writing that replacement for Jerusalem are you?”

“No, no. It’s just a stock take,” Robert said before quickly picking up the piece of paper.

“It’s ok if you are, we all need to do something during lockdown, I suppose,” John replied.

“No, no. It’s just a simple stock take,” Robert said.

“That’s quite a lot of paper for a simple stock take,” John said.

“There’s a lot of stuff here,” Robert replied.

“Surely, not that much stuff, though,” John said.

“Fine, some of it is a risk assessment,” Robert said.

“Why didn’t you tell me that before?” John asked.

“I didn’t want you think I had some health and safety fetish.” Robert said.

“Hmm, ok.” John said. “Well, I’ll leave you to your stock takes and risk assessments.” He said before walking out.

He then hesitated, and walked back in. “If you are still writing that replacement for Jerusalem, the council may consider it if we find out that Jerusalem has racist connotations.”

“Never mind if it has racist connotations, my song is specifically about Lower Strangling not England in general, and it has all the history of the village, not just Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea visiting the original settlement, converting the heathens, and building the original church! The bloody pub’s in there and all! It’s vastly superior to Jerusalem!” Robert proclaimed.

Not being able to stop himself, he threw the bits of paper in his hand which flew around the brewery and landed on the floor.

John picked up a sheet of paper before Robert could stop him, and read it.

It wasn’t a stock take or a risk assessment at all.

“We’ll put that in the maybe pile,” John said, giving the paper back to Robert.

“Well, happy writing,” He said before walking out of the brewery. “And get better at lying!” He added after he’d vanished from Robert’s eyeline.

“Ok,” Robert said, before quickly closing and locking the doors, turning the lights on, and continuing his writing as the machinery continued to whir and the smell of water and beer filled the air.

He really needed to talk to the council about the public footpath running alongside the brewery, he thought to himself as he wrote.

Yes, that would stop uninvited guests.

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