I had warmed up my vocal chords with a nice cup of tea for a rousing chorus of “Down with this sort of thing!” and was working on a few possible banner slogans in my notebook (it's best to get the words absolutely right first before scaling them up, so you don't run out of space).
“The rest of the right-thinking population will be along any moment and we can really get this show on the road,” I thought.
But the only people arriving were those taking part in the event inside the park – which is what I was there to protest against. Plus you had to pay to get in.
Eventually someone I vaguely knew saw me as she was on her way through the park gates.
“Are you coming in?” she asked.
“I'm staying out here!”
She knows I'm a journalist, so she offered to pay my entrance fee.
“No thank you!” I replied.
She shrugged and went in.
By now the security guards were eyeing me up too. I guess sometimes people try to break into the event and cause trouble.
“Don't worry about me,” I told them, “I'm against all this sort of thing!”
They nodded but didn't look convinced. I could hear music and people laughing in the park. This was happening right in the middle of Riga. Children were walking past the railings. Some of them even looked like they wanted to go into the park and join in. As all parents will know, there is an excellent playground and electric-powered cars you can hire by the minute. Yes, it was happening right by the playground!
After a while my friend came back to the gate and looked out at me. For some reason she seemed concerned.
“Are you sure you're feeling alright?” she asked me. “Why not come inside and try this?”
She held it up right in front of me, utterly shameless. PILSENER.
“That's exactly what I'm against!” I informed her, while making a note in my pad that this would make an excellent placard slogan.
“But it's the Latvian Beer Festival, what do you expect?” she replied.
“I've got nothing against beer in principle, though I myself prefer the more refined degvins, which before you say anything is definitely not the same as vodka,” I explained.
“But this promotion of drinking - in a public place where all can see it – is plain wrong. If it was good old traditional ale, I could condone it, but look at what they're selling: lager, porter, India Pale Ale, bitters, wheat beers, flavored beers, cider, perry and worst of all, that stuff you hold in your hand - Pilsener!”
“What's wrong with Pilsener?” she asked. “It's quite refreshing on a hot day like today.”
“What's wrong with it is that it is a rotten foreign style of beer that was imported into the Baltic states by brewers from Bohemia and Germany!” I continued. “It's where the rot set in. It's killing real beer, which should be made one way and one way only – the old-fashioned way! Soon there will be no more real beer at all. Go into the supermarket shelves and what do you see? Just mass produced muck made to EU standards!”
“You're crackers,” she expostulated. What about Valmiermuiza? Or Madona beer? Or Brenguli? Or Bauska? Or Tervete? Or Raiskums? Or Uzavas...”
Well, I could see I was wasting my time trying to save her from herself. I turned on my heel and started walking up Barona iela. Her voice trailed away behind me, listing the few dozens of craft breweries Latvia still possesses.
So good luck to the demonstrators against the EuroPride event on Saturday, which is also taking place at Vermanes park. I hope your time isn't as wasted as mine was at the largest beer festival in the Baltic states.
Looking back on it I wish I had taken the advice of nationalist politician Raivis Dzintars, who in a recent blog post suggested that if his voters didn't like EuroPride they should probably just ignore it and go and do something else more enjoyable instead. And like him, I have just taken 800 words to say so.
(Sentiments expressed in the article are the writer's own and please don't bother commenting that the article is itself a waste of time etc etc.)