am guessing that many Sheffield readers will know straight away what this post, or rather whom this post, is about. To those not in the know, Badges Andrew is the subject - known by many other names am sure, and according to Beer Matters, as Andrew Smith. I never knew Andrew's surname whilst he was alive. That is the same for many of the people I know and drink with in Sheffield pubs. Andrew passed away in October this year. Here are some thoughts on his drinking life.
I use that phrase by the way because I didn't know Andrew outside of pubs. That, as above, is something that applies still to many people I see in boozers regularly. One of the benefits, if you look at it so, of social media, is that you can often find out lots about people you meet in pubs by exchanging online details. I realise this is also potentially a bad thing. I met Andrew in 1994. It was ten years before I owned a computer.
Due to my woeful UJR* I don't know what condition Andrew had. I spoke to someone recently who said he didn't speak to him because he thought he was a freak. I was quite shocked, since to me it was obvious that Andrew had some kind of illness or condition which determined the way that he acted in social situations. There was no malice in the chap. He was a jolly, unendingly enthusiastic, probably overly verbose and loud gent who loved his cask beer. He may well have had a behavioural condition, but one thing I would say is that this never stopped him coming out to drink. Sometimes too much. Sometimes too often. These are not characteristics I would criticise in anyone, for obvious reasons.
Andrew's passing is one where the term rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated is actually accurate. About five years ago he disappeared from the pub scene altogether and there were suggestions he had passed away. And then I saw him in the Bath Hotel, addressing the bar staff, as he always had done, as if they were about 30 feet away. It was impossible to miss Andrew. For a start you may have remembered him from working shifts at Sheffield Beer Festival for many years. And even if you went deaf you would always recognise his hat, weighed down and bedecked in number by badges. Unfortunately I never got to find out what the badges said since, alas, Andrew suffered from spouty mouth, a term I have invented. Lets just say it was advisable to cover one's drink with a beer mat whilst conversing with Andrew, lest one wanted a top up, consisting almost entirely of saliva.
I once met up with Sean in the Cask and Cutler and mentioned I was going to Chesterfield the next day with my other half. He had asked if I was going to Keighley beer festival. It seemed Andrew was also, as he loudly advised. As we were about to leave the Derby Tup the next afternoon I heard Andrew's distinctive voice. He was a trifle refreshed. I said hello to him on our way out and headed with my partner to the Red Lion on Whittington Moor. Or whatever the Old Mill pub was called. As we were also a trifle refreshed we decided that Andrew was a bit too much for us and were therefore seeking refuge there. I even jokingly said to the barman, that if he came in, could me and our lass hide behind the bar. Five minutes later he did, and so did we. He spotted us. He didn't think to ask why we were crouching behind the bar. He just told us, in great detail and with some volume, about the beers he had tried at the festival and the Tup. All of which had been very nice, really.
The final thing I want to share is from way back in 1994. Me and Helen and Ieuan and others were in the beer garden of the Fat Cat, along with Alan Gibbons. Andrew walked in and started telling Helen in great detail about something that had happened earlier that day (which would no doubt have been really really good, or very nice actually) and then spotted Alan. And then, this happened....
Andrew: "Ooooh" Alan! Its funny you being called Alan Gibbons.....
Andrew: "cuz you could have been called Alan Baboon!"
Andrew: "Alan Chimpanzeeee!"
Andrew: "Alan orangutan!"
I would like to think that Andrew's notable attention to detail meant he would have listed many other types of apes or simian creatures but I can't be sure. I do know that whilst we pissed ourselves laughing, Alan did not find this in the slightest bit amusing. Never before have I heard someone so enthused about monkeys, nor seen someone so stern faced in the receipt of such unbridled enthusiasm.
Back to reality, and I don't know how Andrew died, but am sad to see his passing. I have only been drinking for 26 years but have already lost many friend and acquaintances from the world of pubs which I started frequenting in 1993.
If you are out tonight, please raise a glass in tribute to Andrew. And do mention the simian possibilities of his surname to Alan Gibbons.....
*Usual Journalistic Rigour