The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

Iron Age Brew

Egwolf awoke with his customary headache and reached for a ramshorn of Brew. Elsewhere in the roundhouse others also roused and downed their first draft of the day. Those who drank water got ill and died, although Egwolf often wondered if there was a better way to make it safe than fermenting Brew.

Those who drank Brew could be divided into three groups.

Firstly there were those who became intoxicated very quickly. They died too, in a variety of ways. There were those, like Eringard, who might take exception to the way a wild boar or some other dangerous carnivore looked at them and then make the decision to fight it. There were others, like Cairnfeld, who might become convinced that they could fly if only they could jump from a high enough cliff. A terrible waste of life but great anecdotes for long drinking sessions.

The second and largest group, of which Egwolf was a member, retained enough sense to stay alive but spent their entire lives in an alcoholic haze.

The third group were virtually unaffected by the intoxicating properties of Brew but also tended to have a limited lifespan, often being put to death by the second group for being annoying, self-righteous smart-arses. Ethelwarp was a case in point. He had been the sixth person during the previous millennium to independently invent the wheel. He had become very angry, however, when no one else cared and had unwisely pointed out that non-stop partying meant no significant technological, scientific or cultural advances had been made in the previous ten thousand years. At some level the others recognised a profound truth in this and drowned him, like his predecessors, in a vat of Brew.

Today it was the turn of Egwolf’s roundhouse to make the Brew. Everyone collected outside the building and shouted ‘It’s our roundhouse’ in order to remind the others in the settlement. Others would shout back ‘It’s your roundhouse’ to ensure no confusion. Thousands of years later, this ritual would be preserved in the expressions ‘It’s my round’ or ‘It’s your round’ in relation to purchase of alcoholic beverages.

When ready, the opaque, yeasty liquid would be carried to the local drinking circles where it would be consumed amid singing, dancing and story-telling until most gathered there were propped unconscious against the standing stones. This once again leading to the later expression of being ‘stoned’.

Stone avenues leading from the circles had been a wonderful invention in helping the villagers find their way home at night or locate one of the fast food longbarrows.

Twenty-first century archaeologists are now accepting the theory that people in the Iron Age had many parties. Egwolf, however, could have told them they were wrong. There was just the one - beginning in 12,000 BC and ending with the Roman invasion.