A Useless Organiser: a story
Have you ever wondered where the saying “Couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery” comes from? Like so many well-known phrases and sayings, we have the immortal Bard, William Shakespeare, to thank for that.
Well, to be fair, it wasn’t really his fault, because it all happened when he was chatting to one of his characters, by the name of Hamlet, about the lines that he intended to give him for Act 3, Scene 1, when he gets a bit annoyed with Ophelia.
“How does ‘Get thee to a nunnery’ sound?” he asked.
Hamlet thought that it sounded like a wonderful idea. That was because he had a particularly large wodge of earwax at the time, and he mistook “nunnery” for “brewery”. It never struck him that “Get thee to a brewery” would be an extraordinary line for him to utter in the context, but then his mental processes were never all that robust at the best of times.
His thoughts therefore wandered off in a completely different direction, although the expression of dreamy abstraction that possessed his features for the rest of the day convinced Bill Shakespeare that he was on to a winner here. He could foresee the takings at the Globe hitting the roof – or he would have done if the Globe actually had a roof, which most of it did not.
“I’ll give my mate Charlie a call”, said Hamlet.
“Charlie Burg – although, being Danes, we sometimes call him Carl. He tells me that he’s invented a fizzy drink with a bit of a kick to it, and he’d like a group of us to try it out. If it takes off he might start selling it.”
“Can I join you?”, asked the Bard. “I can think of a few people who might be good judges of something like that.”
“Sounds great,” said Hamlet. “Let’s do it”.
Hence the motley crew who assembled at Carl’s brewery a few days later. Carl was a bit downcast when they turned up, because his girlfriend Stella, from France, had just left him. Carl’s particular worry was that she had snaffled his recipe and might try going into production herself.
“Not a chance”, said Hamlet, who was always an excellent judge of any matter that involved a woman.
To prove this point, he had suggested to Bill Shakespeare that he invite Cleopatra to the party, his reason being that she had invented a drink called “snakebite” that Carl might like to sample.
Hamlet’s organizational skills were called into question not long into the event. Bill Shakespeare had suggested that, in order to bring a little magic to the proceedings, he let Prospero, or the combined forces of Oberon and Titania, wave their wands and make things happen, but Hamlet would have none of it. His only concession to this idea was to allow Puck and Ariel to help behind the bar, serving the spirits of course.
However, things really went to pot when Hamlet decided that the best person to pour the pints was Sir John Falstaff, accompanied by all his companions from the Boar’s Head. Presumably Carl the Brewer was not all that concerned about the place being drunk dry, but presumably he would have preferred this to have been at the hands of the customers rather than the bar staff.
Fortunately, Shylock was willing to supply the party with extra alcohol – at a price. Hence another well-known phrase or saying that Bill Shakespeare might have come up with, when he told Shylock:
“When you said that this lot would cost an arm and a leg, I thought you were joking.”
“I’m sure you could put your literary skills to work here”, Shylock said. “Why not call your next play ‘The Vintner’s Tale?”
“It’s more like a comedy of errors”, Shakespeare said.
“As you like it”, Shylock replied.
When the debacle was finally over, and the customers had all departed, save for the pile of inebriates stacked behind the bar, Bill and Hamlet talked things over.
“I think that was quite a success”, Hamlet said.
“If you’re going to tell me that all’s well that ends well, I might just hit you where it hurts”, said Bill.
“No, I was just thinking that you might rename one of your plays”, said Hamlet.
“Don’t you start”, said Bill. “Which one did you have in mind? The Extremely Merry Wives of Elsinore? Titus A Newt?”
“No”, I just thought that this whole event was not much ado about nothing but potentially the start of something really big. Carl would be delighted if you could produce a new version of one of your earlier triumphs. A few tweaks and a change of title and he could be made for life.”
“And what title did you have in mind?”, asked Bill.
“Isn’t it obvious? The Naming of the Brew, of course.”