I never thought I'd be cool but now I'm a HipsterÂ '“Â Simon Carter
Fancy a little sing song? You know you want to. Come on then, join in with me...
'When the moon shines On the cow shed And we're rollin' in the hay All the cows are out there grazing And the milk is on its way ...'
Whaddya mean, you don't know the words? Got to number three in the singles chart. Way back in 1976, the year punk rock exploded on to our TVÂ Â screens with the sweary, gobby Sex Pistols being interviewed by Bill Grundy.
Anarchy in the UK? Possibly, but not in the west country. Not with the Wurzels. Not much anarchy around when you can while away the summer evenings singing (and, after a few pints of the local farmer's lethal scrumpy, no doubt swaying)Â along to I Am A Cider Drinker.
'I am a cider drinker I drinks it all of the day I am a cider drinker It soothes all me troubles away Oh arr oh arr aay Oh arr oh arr aay.'
Bob Dylan, eat your heart out.
Trouble was, cider drinking wasn't remotely sexy in the mid-1970s. It wasn't 'cool' andÂ it wasn't 'hip'. That remained the case throughout the '80s and most of the '90s. Indeed, the advent of White Lightning cider as the homeless person's favourite street tipple in the mid-1990s did nothing to improve the drink's national image.
According to the stereotype peddled by those familiar with the Wurzels and the rough sleepers, only tramps and yokels '“ in other words, people from the deepest, darkest parts of the west country '“ drank cider.
Many stereotypes are right, but thatÂ one was wrong.Â I'm a west country guy born and bred and in the late '80s, when I was old enough to legally drink for the first time, I never touched the stuff. Didn't for many years, in fact.
Now, livingÂ miles away from the rolling green fields where I grew up '“ all right, inner city Exeter if you must know '“ I don'tÂ quaff anything but the drink immortalised by a number three chart hit 42 years ago in another sweltering summer.
But times they have a changed. Now I amÂ 'cool', and now I am 'hip'. OK, that might be pushing the boundaries of credibility,Â after all, I accompanied my partner to a Take That tribute actÂ at the Kings Theatre, Southsea,aÂ few weeks ago,Â but my drink certainly is.
Must admit, despite being a proud Devonian by birth, I never thought I'd say that. Then again, I never thought I'd say a lot about what I find on today's pub and restaurant menus.
A social media post a while back made me laugh, something about a 21st-century male HipsterÂ rushed to hospital after having an allergic reaction to eating pork that hadn't been pulled. His mate,Â also complete with obligatory beard and sleeve ofÂ tattoos,Â was also taken illÂ afterÂ tasting caramel that wasn't salted.
Guess that's the success of modern day food and drink marketingÂ making us desire something that's been around for ages.
Most of us have always enjoyed a coffee, but a decade ago I never would have envisaged our entire high streets being over-run by shops selling it. And charging Â£3 for a cup in the process. And a couple of quid for a muffin or an annoyingly small biscuit.
I wouldn't call myself a food philistine. After all, in a different journalistic life, I happily spent a few years filling my face in a variety of Bristol and Bath restaurants '“ I would call them 'eateries' but I'm not pretentious!Â '“ and writing food reviews for the Bristol Evening Post newspaper. Trust me, it was a tough life.
Anyway, with all that in mind, I freely admit to being baffled whenever I sit down anywhere to eat these days.Â I regularly see words I have to Google before telling the waiter what I want.
A few weeks ago, I came across 'buongusto onions', 'cross-hatch fries' and 'tapenade'. I had no idea what any of them were and, anyway, I only eat onions that have been caramelised after a HipsterÂ told meÂ Theresa May'sÂ government had passed a new law saying it was now mandatory to do so. Even Chris Chope voted for it.
There was also a pizza titled 'The Good Life' butÂ as itÂ containedÂ vegan cheese and aubergines it didn'tÂ sound that good to me. In addition, itÂ also appears law thatÂ in the year 2018Â all burger bunsÂ must beÂ 'brioche rolls' and '“ a big question this '“ since when did coleslaw start being called 'slaw' on menus?
And, for that matter, who thought it a grand idea to serve food on pieces of wood rather than plates, or in shovels, or serve chips in a cup (as they do at Byron Burgers)? Question '“ is the latter just a cunning ruse to serve fewer chips? It's a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer's 'yes'.
Perhaps it's me, though. PerhapsÂ I need toÂ get out more.
Earlier this week my partner rustled up a wonderful, good old-fashioned English breakfast. The iconic 'fry-up'.Â Offering up a blizzard of questions, IÂ decided to adopt modern-day menu parlance.
'Are these sausages Gloucester Old Spot?'
'I beg your pardon?
'Are these mushrooms locally sourced?'
'Yes, from Sainsbury's up the road.'
'Is this bacon honey-glazed?'
'No, it's just bacon, honey.'
'Are these eggs free range from west country farms? Preferably Dorset ones as they've got the freshest air, or so a Hipster I met at the local micro brewery told me the other day. He was having a craft beer, obviously. I casually mentioned to him that I'd recently eaten chips that weren't triple cooked OR described on the menu as 'skin-on fries', and he pulled a huge face and said I'd had a lucky escape.'
'Darling, why are you asking so many questions?'
'Why have we got normal toast? Didn't we have any sourdough bread? Or brioche rolls?'
'No, the cashier told meÂ restaurants have bought them all up.'
Oh, it was so easy all those years ago shopping for food and drink. Not much choice, and not many of the current-day shopping conundrums '“ 'darling, shall we get the organic butternut squash this week or the non-organic one?' '“ as a result. And, anyway,Â if you did have any 'issues', you knew the answer ...
'It soothes all me troubles away Oh arr oh arr aay Oh arr oh arr aay.'Â