During my life the black dog has growled on numerous occasions. Sometimes it is a distant howl, other times it has my head locked in its jaws. As I write this a hear can feel its heavy breathe, however I don’t know how close it will get this time but in relative speaking terms, I usually know what is the underlying cause and I can take steps to rectify it and in even more fortunate terms, it has never effected my work life or my appetite, either through lack of consumption of over eating.
During the first week of the first UK lock down I was holed up in bed, forced to take generic analgesics because even the act of trying to rest was painful.
I had no cough. I had no fever. I had no other symptoms at all apart from the misfortune that it coincided with my hay fever.
This lasted 2 days and then I was up and about, well as much as you could be when your government compels you to stay at home.
Come the weekend I ordered a pizza with rather extreme toppings and it was great. I left a slice and went to bed fairly happy.
I woke up and had budget German supermarket version of a popular wheat biscuit cereal.
A few hours later I had the remaining slice of pizza.
A few hours after that I had a few overly hopped beers which were incredibly underwhelming.
A few hours after that, having switched to budget German lager from the same budget German supermarket I, well I suppose it was illegally, went to my local kebab house and got a mixed kebab with salad, garlic mayo and hot sauce. Not that their hot sauce is particularly hot, its more warm tinned tomatoes with paprika and herbs.
It was precisely at this moment that all the day’s previous eating and drinking exploits came into sharp focus. I hadn’t tasted any them. The act of pounding down the raw onions of the kebab salad with the artery reducing, supposedly heavily seasoned lamb suddenly became an incredibly muted experience.
The next few days saw me sniffing most things in my house, which I’ll admit even included my cat’s dirt box (the plastic thing, with absorbent cat litter he shits in, from a distance mind, and not any other kind of euphemism). It also saw me necking my hottest chilli sauce I had (made with Naga/Ghost extract) and acting like I had gained a super power…until it worked its way though my digestive system.
It is quite the experience to eat and drink for the sole act of habit rather than for any additional kind of sensory pleasure. As a perfunctory act it very quickly morphed into a black dog of Baskerville proportions.
All this, well before loss of smell/taste was made an official symptom of the virus of unspecified origin.
Slowly, over the following two weeks, the anosmia faded but some 17 months later its repercussions are still felt.
Have I got “long covid”? Who cares? I don’t.
But it really still does make my question everything I taste and smell and I know some things still aren’t right and I’m begin to doubt if they will ever return to normal; for example, garlic tastes fine but the act of cutting it smells of bleach.
What it has done is make my reconsider what I buy with regards to beer.
During my “recovery” hops and hoppy beers were quite dreadful, so without meaning to damn with faint praise or malign established products, I’ve really grown fond of mass produced lager and readily available cask boring brown bitters (when we were finally deemed worthy of drinking in pubs again that is).
I’m merely bottles of Merrydown and MD 20/20 away from regressing to what I started drinking as a very young teen.
I now on longer feel slightly compelled to pay over the odds for beers that apparently have “more flavours and aromas” but I now perceived as an even more jumbled mess than they were before this.
What this means for all the beers I’ve been ageing I don’t know, but as most of them are imperial stouts they’ll all just taste of coffee, booze and burnt shit anyway.
At least this gives me even greater carte blanche to look someone in the eye who’s paid 100s to get a piece of paper that says Cicerone on it and tell them to fuck off back to Sunday Brunch with increased vigour.
“Barkeep, a packet of pork scratchings and a macro lout please, and one for yourself.”