Pensées. Vol. 5.

The theme here is people, drinks, places, in another guise – not the “same old”, in other words, but not quite new either.

Beer Notes

Hamilton’s Collective Arts Brewery offers a broad range of brews, and perhaps the best commercial art program for a brewery in Ontario – well, among the best.

The Citra hop figures in IPA No. 20, the latest of its numbered IPA series – in fact four ways, as the label states. So four iterations of the same hop go into the beer. One is the standard form, the others are more concentrated forms, liquid, solid, etc.

See more detail at Canadian Beer News.

The effect of the blend, in this case anyway, produces something rather different than “standard Citra”: I get apricot and tangerine upfront, with the signature Citra grapefruit more distant. Very pleasant drinking.

No. 20 exemplifies the series style – fruity, rather light-coloured IPA – but offers something different, too. Would be nice to see an amber, English-styled IPA from Collective Arts, to express a personal preference.

City Notes

Toronto is picking up with the relaxation of the mask and passport mandates and some easing of the weather. On my treks downtown I’d say activity is 50% of pre-pandemic – so still a way to go.

Mid-day yesterday, University Avenue as it passes the Provincial Legislature aka Queen’s Park, was still quite quiet especially going south. Before Covid it would have resembled more the Indy 500.



People still wear masks indoors and on public transit albeit made optional, generally, on March 21, maybe 90% by my estimate. I go along, mainly out of civic comity. If wearing masks a while longer helps bring the city back sooner, I’m for it.

Author Notes

Boak & Bailey, a pen name, are a husband and wife beer-writing team based in Bristol, England. In the beer-writing world which is “Our Town”, they are part of “Our Crowd”, charter members in fact.

The male side writes fiction under his real name, Ray Newman. He issued The Grave Digger’s Boy in 2019, and more recently the story collection Municipal Gothic.



The action unspools in unassuming urban settings, which lends the tales a strange, indeed novel power. Perhaps due to B & B’s deep researches into postwar British history for beer writing, Ray has an impressive command of British sociology between, say, 1945 and 1975.

His story “Modern Buildings in Wessex” captures perfectly the unemotional, social-investigative tone of the period, as does “An Oral History of the Greater London Exorcism Authority”.

These are great lampoons – and not a little scary as the book’s title promises. Some tales are more straight narrative, e.g., a “Director’s Cut”. An unsettling atmosphere permeates all, consistent with the book’s spooky genre.

Sample lines from the Wessex Buildings story, describing “Residenzia Pölzig”: “… [it is] a black finger penetrating the sky above pine trees planted in 1948 to replace ancient woodlands stripped bare as part of the war effort. [A] few storeys of concrete and glass… it is one in the eye for the forces of repetition and British deference that dominate the shires”.

The book requires a thinking mind, it is not “easy reading”, and one must be prepared for British idiom – “plooky”, anyone? Or “verge”, in a highway? But rewarding it is for those who take the time.

Music Notes

I started to talk about this on Twitter. The Canadian folk legend Valdy is now in his mid-70s, and lives in British Columbia. He was born Paul Valdemar Horsdal, and hails from Ottawa.

For a fairly anodyne city (normally!) Ottawa has produced an unusually large number of notable music figures. In addition to Valdy, there is Paul Anka, Lorne Green, Bruce Cockburn, Alanis Morissette, Lee Emmerson (of Five Man Electrical Band), and Sue Foley, among many others,

Valdy is basically a folk and country artist, and in the 70s exemplified a countrified, laid-back hippie ethic. In the late 1960s he appeared at a music festival that had both folk and rock stages. Because of a power fault the rock performances were stopped, and Valdy was required to play his style before a crowd accustomed to high-volume, uncomplicated rock and roll.

It didn’t go down well, but Valdy got a great song out of it, Play me a Rock and Roll Song. Ironically, the tune is an unabashed rock outing, not heavy metal but not folkie either.

This appears to have been accidental. In interviews Valdy explains the drummer (Jim Gordon, a well-known session player) hit the drums hard when kicking off the session in L.A. The song took shape from there.

This is Valdy doing the song just a couple of years ago – it is as good now as when released in 1972, maybe better. He is backed by Vancouver musician and singer Taylor James.




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