Today in 1867, Gerard Adrian Heineken had his sister Anna lay the foundation stone of what would become the first Heineken brewery. It was situated on the outskirts of Amsterdam by blessing of the powers that be, beside the Amstel River. Gerard was an innovative man, who at 22 had borrowed from his mother to purchase the failing Haystack brewery. He very quickly turned it around, pushed out 5000 barrels in a year and needed a larger capacity. This place was his solution. He could custom make it. He brought a bottom fermentation process more familiar in Bavaria over to Amsterdam, was enough of a businessman to make it desirable, and he always had his eye on the international market.

150 years later the brewery is “The Heineken Experience”. It’s the second most popular visitor attraction in town after the Rijksmuseum. People from all around the world were congregating there. Heineken, it seems, is massive in Brazil. It’s pretty big in Spain too. And even Taiwan. It’s pretty far down the list in the UK, comparatively. Heineken wanted an experienced confident actor to dress as an 1860’s newspaper barker and jolly up the room for hours and hours and hours without getting fazed, losing positivity or getting tired. Who ‘ya gonna call?


I’m knackered now though. Trying to stick myself back together. Mostly I do that by being alone, and so I’m sitting in my own little bubble on a terrace on this glorious summer evening, letting the world wash past me over a glass of Zinfandel. Every time I swallow it hurts. Patsy Rodenberg or not, 6 hours constant barking over a crowd is going to ravage anyone. If someone stole my wallet right now, I’d let them (if I hadn’t lost it already.) I’m not raising my voice for at least three days.

Over the years I’ve loved and appreciated my work for Heineken. They keep getting me back, I am glad of the work. Being a working actor is about exactly this sort of thing while you hustle for that elusive meeting for “that part” that captures the imagination. I’ll keep getting re-employed in these random high pressure jobs, and doing them well and joyfully. That trust and repeat employment allows me to invest time into building things like Beowulf in a flat in Stoke Newington on week days and still pay off Newlyn Bailiffs before they bring the sledgehammer.

Heading to sleep on a friend’s sofa after work, I’m glad to have built a network of friends and allies in this glorious city. It’s not what teenage Al would’ve expected when he came out here to eat space cakes and drink way too much lager. It looks likely I’ll be out here again before long to do some filming. What with Dubrovnik last summer and these repeating jobs for Heineken and its acquisition brands, I’m worried what the ramifications of our vote last summer will be. Right now it probably makes me cheap, but soon it might make it impossible for me to have such joy overseas.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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