Hommage à IRN-BRU

A can of IRN-BRU, made by, well, the IRN-BRU people. Which is to say, A.G Barr p.l.c.

And now for something completely different, as John Cleese would say.

Once upon a time, as I’ve already said, I lived in England. (Well, twice upon a time, but that’s beside the point.) Whilst I lived in this land of many delights, I took a short trip to the beautiful city (and it really is quite beautiful) of Edinburgh. (I remember that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had recently come out, and I was carrying it with me on a train that left for the north from platform 9 at King’s Cross — very near platform 9 3/4 — and that this fact delighted some of my more fanatically Potter-loving friends.)

On the way back I had an unusually pleasant train ride – more or less empty carriage, views of the North Sea, hours to lounge and read, interesting towns passed through (York, Newcastle, that sort of thing – interesting because I’d heard of them and never been to them). I was already thoroughly enjoying myself when a portly, blue-uniformed steward came pushing the food cart down the aisle. I stopped him, figuring I would buy a cherry Coke or something (cherry Coke being, side note, the only drinkable cola in the UK – but that’s a different and far more ranty story). I was about to make my Coke purchase when garishly orange cans of something called IRN-BRU (it must always be written in all caps) caught my eye.

“What’s that?” I said. I believe he may actually have cried “Ach!” He proceeded to explain, in a hilariously stereotypical garrulous heavily-accented Scottish way (I suspect him of laying it on a bit thick, but in good humour), that this was “our national drink,” to which of course I replied that if that was the case, I obviously had to try it. I bought two cans on faith and we parted ways with hearty mutual felicitations.

And could I have gotten more cheerful? Yes I could, and YES I DID. Oh, folks. I know I’m abasing myself by essentially writing an ad, but I have to sing the praises of IRN-BRU (even as I sit here dazed with a bit of an IRN-BRU crash, having just drunk a can). It is at base an orange soda with, yes, perhaps a little bit more of an iron-like tang than your average orange soda would have. In my innocence I assumed it was just an orange drink (luckily, I did not drink at once both of the cans I’d bought). To my quite pleasant surprise I discovered that it’s in fact a bit of an energy drink – one that makes everything lighter and cheerful and bubbly and doesn’t make me sick. I have been a fan ever since, but it’s not sold outside the UK, so I never get to have it. I currently have an eight-pack (well, now a seven-pack) due to the lovely Sky Potato (who has, appropriately, been making real tea to her specifications despite being in France).

Oh, IRN-BRU, are there any things you can’t accomplish? No doubt there are, but you make me so cheerful, so bubbly, that indeed I don’t want to know what those things might be. Are you the perfect combination of citric acid, sugar, caffeine, quinine, artificial coloring, carbonated water, preservatives, and ammonium ferric citrate? Yes, yes you are. Do I care that, according to your own cans, Sunset Yellow and Ponceau 4R (the aforementioned colorings) can cause “adverse effect[s] on activity and attention in children?” No, I do not, for I am not a child; I am an adult! With the money to buy IRN-BRU of my very own! (Well, at this specific moment, with friends able to bring me gifts of IRN-BRU of my very own, but that’s not the point!) IRN-BRU, can your quinine cure malaria, should I ever develop malaria? I choose to believe that it can, because your delicious blend of chemical components – despite fate’s decree that it will cause a crash after this fleeting moment – has made me so light of heart.

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