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Barry the Bastard from Burton

It’s one thing to give a name to an inanimate object and anthropomorphise it. It’s quite another when that object starts to take on a personality that is not necessarily the one you would have chosen for it.

I’m worried that Barry is actually a bit of a bastard. And a grumpy one at that.

Of course he’s heavy – about 30kg. When I first picked him up, I breathed a sigh of relief (which came out as a grunt of exertion) that I’d made a compromise and gone for an aluminium cask instead of the planned wooden one, which would have been twice the weight and would never have gotten very far.

But this is about more than weight.

After getting off the train in London there were no trolleys, and I had a large, heavy bag and laptop case as well as Barry. I managed to get down the length of the platform by hoisting him on to my shoulder, where I could carry him for about thirty yards at a time. By the time I got home, I had a bruise on my bicep as big as a saucer.

He didn’t stop there. We bought a wheelie bag with a handle for him to go in. He broke the spine of that after about a hundred yards, the wheels sticking out uselessly at the sides. So then we bought him a trolley. We checked on the label that it was capable of taking 40kg. So far he’s managed to scrape the paint off it and buckle some of the supports at the bottom. We’ve wrapped him in that special cellophane packing you can get at airports. His bag is red, and glows through the mucus-green cellophane, making him look livid. He’s already burst through this cellophane at the shoulders of the bag, which is scarred with long black marks and tears.

Barry is now a malevolent presence in the room, causing people to stub their feet or bruise their shins on him far more than would be normal for an inanimate, highly visible object.

Our journey’s end in Calcutta is still far away, but I’m already starting to have fantasies about spilling the bastard’s guts once we get there.

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