Guest Beer Writer - Stephen Fry

Hello. My name is Stephen Fry, and I'm an alcoholic. Ah, wrong group, I feel. My name is Stephen Fry, and I want to take this opportunity to explain my sudden exit from the stage of my latest foray into thespianism, Cell Mates.

I feel an explanation is due both for my partner in crime, the enormously talented Rik Mayall and also for my public, who have offered unwavering support since I fist donned a silly costume and strode the boards, codpiece to the fore.

The gutter press have made much of the fact that I absconded during a West-end run and have attributed this to their own prejudiced reviews of my otherwise faultless performance. To which I would reply Tish and, indeed, Pish.

For goodness sake, if I was to take seriously every maligning piece of jaundiced journalism and tittle-tattle then I'd be madder than Mad Jock McMad, winner of the All-Scotland Mr. Mad Competition. No, my retreat to the fair town of Bruges was for a much simpler reason - beer.

It is no secret that I have a weakness for the finer things in life. This weakness typically manifests itself in fine malt whiskies, but since a friend was generous to bestow upon me a crate of particularly impressive ale, I have been left with an overwhelming desire for fine beers.

Satiating these desires has typically been possible by imbibing of the finest beers that British brewers could produce. But alas and, furthermore, alack, things are not what they used to be, and the state of beer in Britain is, to borrow from Betjamen, fucked. So I have sought solace in the arms of another. In the tender embrace of Belgium, to be precise.

Belgium, "Het Bierland'', as they say. Belgium, where they still hold a healthy respect for quality. Belgium, where they still value their heritage.

In particular, I enamoured myself of Bruges, where Belgian beer is at its best. This city is to Belgium what Burton used to be to Britain. And here, one can fins such exemplary brews as Brugse Tarwebock, Straffe Hendrik, and other, numerous delights.

And here, indeed, I intended to stay until such a time as the British brewing industry pulled its socks up, corrected its wanton ways and gave us back the beer we had grown to love. For without our beer, we are robbed of our heritage, and without our heritage, we have no future.

Unfortunately, my little protest was to no avail as no-one had attributed the right reasons for my departure from our green and pleasant land. Hence my return. After much hand-wringing and hair-shredding, I have decided that it is easier to change the system from within. To this end, I am happy to announce that I am back, and working on my next play, Bar Mates!

Pip, pip!

When this was first published, Stephen Fry had disappeared from a production of Cell Mates before the first performance.  No-one heard from him for several weeks, and he eventualy turned up across the Channel in Bruges, so this seemed like a good opportunity for pushing Belgian beer (I was living in Brussels at the time).  I'd also recently read The Liar and decided that he would count as a 'literary' source...