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I got married in Eisenach. I can remember the day like it was twenty four years and eleven months ago.

Where's the beer angle? We'll get to that.

I'll tell you a little about the day first.

The ceremony was all a bit of a mystery to me. Seeing as it was in German a languge which, at the time, I didn't understand. I have some nice photos of the cermony somewhere. Taken by a photographer we hadn't ordered. That's the sort of thoughtful people the DDR authorities were, making sure there was someone there to record the event for posterity

The ride from registry office to the receptionwas particularly swanky, in a saggy bendy bus. At least it had room for the whole party inside. Party being the right word. Little Dave had thoughfully nipped to a kiosk while we were waiting for the bus and came back with a handful of impulse schnapps.

A half dozen of my friends and family were staying at my in-laws house for a few days around the wedding. My father-in-law had bought in a barrel of Wartburg Pils, but was worried that we would never get through it. Early in the evening of the wedding day, we finished off the second barrel of Wartburg,ordered in emergency after the first ran out in just two days.

Lindenhof (see photo above) was just over the road and the only pub in the district open at that time of day. Great idea - we nip over there and buy a couple of crates of beer. After all, this is the DDR and the price of a crate in a pub is the same as in a supermarket. Even in a country where I had learnt to love the charming drabness of the surroundings, Lindenhof was drably charmless. The landlord - a scruffy, miserable git in the best tradition of publicans totally unsuited for their profession - soon disappointed us: they had no bottled beer. About the only drinks available were draught pils and doppelkorn (and I suppose tap water, though I wouldn't have bet my left shoe on them having running water that was drinkable). What a dilemna: beer a mere 50 metres away from a happy group of revellers, but nothing to transport it in. Suddenly someone - I can't remember who, but he was a man of genius - suggested we fetch a bucket and put 10 litres of draught beer in it.

Bar staff could be a fickle bunch in the DDR. Moving a chair from one table to another could be considered as a capital offence. I was once scolded by a waitress for reading a book at the table. Yet being asked to pull 20 beers and tip them into a bucket was seen as a perfectly reasonable request. If you want to appreciate what I mean by this, try doing the same in your local pub. Go in with a bucket and ask them to fill it with beer. I bet you that they won't act as nonchalantly as this bloke did.

We polished off those 10 litres pretty sharpish. Long before even the notoriously unstable Wartburg Pils could go flat or sour. Happy memories. And not just of buckets of beer.