Booze is back…

Worked into the early hours, drawing that particularly unpleasant cartoon, which I decided to post because, honestly, I like posting cartoons even more than I like posting articles. I also suspect some of you enjoy the cartoons more than my written work and, if so, then these cartoons are for you. For me, that’s a reward in itself.

From now on, the cartoons that are really too far out there and have no commercial value, I’ll try to stick here. Not that the others have commercial value. As I said about my woeful adventure into ebook publishing: 30% of zero isn’t going to make me rich…

I’m a bit delayed today because I also watched the Trump rally in the early hours (4am) and I need to sit down this afternoon and gather my thoughts to write about it seriously. It really was… something.

Today is also the first day that pubs and hairdressers open. I don’t intend on making use of either.

My attitude to pubs has never altered throughout my entire life. Perhaps it’s because I prefer quiet to noise but I’ve hated nearly every pub I’ve been in. I enjoy quiet bars and cafes. I like being able to talk or to listen to other people. I enjoy people-watching, though in a non-weird way that doesn’t attract the attention of the authorities.

I also rarely drink, which is another of the shames I lived with until I realised that a lot of people now abstain. I guess I’m shaped by my growing up in a working-class town. Beer is not something I ever developed a taste for, plus I saw too many men (non-relatives, I should add) spend their lives in stale miserable taprooms, stuck in that working-class cycle of drinking to excess and then abusing the women around them. I swore I’d never become that kind of man.

Spirits are a different matter, though I rarely touch them. My Ph.D. supervisor was a connoisseur and our study sessions in his room would often be accompanied by grappa. I suspect I have the makings of a serious drinker since I’ve enjoyed every strong liquor I’ve tried. It’s why I don’t touch the stuff.

Wine remains the one mystery to me. I can never tell if I’ve never had the decent stuff or whether I just don’t have the right taste buds. I was in London a couple of years ago when I was introduced to a restaurant owner, a friend of the friend I was staying with. He was Italian and owned a vineyard in Italy, where he made his own non-expensive wine, which he routinely drank. We got talking wine and I explained how I’d never understood wine. He gave me a glass of his own brand wine and a glass of something expensive to see if I could tell. Naturally, I preferred his own non-expensive wine, much to his delight, which probably accounts for how I did drink a bit too much of it.

I also didn’t like the slightly befuddled drunkenness that followed that lunch and I think that’s probably the main reason I rarely drink. As anybody who follows this blog will be able to testify, I already have enough trouble coping with reality. Ideas like “pro-celebrity botulism” do pop into my head all day long. I’m also a clown when entirely sober. I do dumb things, either deliberately to make people laugh or accidentally much to people’s shame. Drunk, I’d probably become the guy who climbs to the top of statues or streaks down the Mall. Not having tested my capacity for drunken behaviour, I have no idea what I’d do.

It does make me look at the country returning to pubs with dismay. I’ve known too many people who drink because they’re unhappy, and, rather than solving their unhappiness, they drink even more which only makes their unhappiness worse. It pains me when I see that happen to friends I care about. It astonishes me when I go out, seeing how many wine bottles are in people’s recycling each and every week. I think that’s why I find this morning’s news rather depressing.

The sight of royals and politicians raising their glasses I find galling. It’s patronising, cheap pretence, and really quite crass given they don’t properly understand the lives of the people they’re encouraging back into the pub at 8am on a Saturday morning. It always reminds me of Malcolm X’s words on dope: ‘the black man taking dope is only helping the white man to “prove” that the black man is nothing’. I’ve always suspected that’s true of the British attitude towards drink. We don’t have a culture like France or Italy, where it’s part of a quite different tradition and taken with far superior food often in the company of family and friends. The British way is to drink until you’re unconscious, wake up, and go to work. Rinse, repeat until retirement…

The upshot is that I don’t know what to make of today. It is a nation returning to life or a nation going back to the serious business of drinking to forget?

10 thoughts on “Booze is back…”

  1. Depressingly you are (as usual) completely correct. It’s all so awful. Did you see the articles I shared about the disproportionate impact of the virus on disabled people? Deaths are still over 100. Schools have been (mostly) closed since March. Theres no sign of theatre or the arts returning but LETS ALL GET HAMMERED! 😐 I feel covid has exposed that we were already a sick country…

    1. Have we ever been a particularly well country? Can’t see it getting better for as long as we’re stuck with the legacy of these narratives around drinking, education, voting… The list is endless. Not to wear my class war badge too proudly (people disagree that we’re a class-based country but I think we still are) but we seem to prefer a government led by people with the right accents rather than the proper competences.

      I saw the article by Nick Cohen but couldn’t read it (don’t have a sub to Spectator) and another today on the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53221435) about how disabled people have been asked to bear the brunt of the lockdown. It doesn’t surprise me. My sister has an autoimmune condition and has had absolutely no contact from anybody checking on her or even, for that matter, telling her to shelter. The government is fairly obviously still set on herd immunity, even if they won’t be so dumb as admit it again, and getting back to normal is part of that.

      As I sit here, I want to write an intelligent reply but I don’t think there is one. It’s just stupidity from a government that has made a habit of stupidity since that very first press conference when Vallance seemed to suggest that a person would only transmit the virus to two people…

      I just don’t understand the numbers. How can we appear to be controlling it when our policies seem so similar to the US where numbers are exploding? What are we doing right or what aren’t we recording?

  2. I must say I don’t remember being ‘asked’ to do anything! Like your sister not even to shield. Not had anybody in the house except the District Nurses and only went out in the car for the first time last Monday regardless. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. FYI I dont have a subscription to the Spectator just an ‘account’ which give me 2 articles a month or something. Enough to read Nick Cohen. I’m not sure about the class element, always seemed an easy bogey man to me. But maybe a middle class man would say that! 😜

    1. I think my mum got one phone call from the GP checking on her but my sister, who really has a lot more problems, has been ignored. I thought they would be giving advice to anybody who was in the riskier categories…

      Class is an odd one but not sure how easy a bogey man it is. I agree, though. Perhaps it depends on where you’re viewing it from. I’ve known some really posh people who would tell me that class doesn’t exist but I always thought you had to be right near the top to believe that (and they were). I’ve certainly seen enough of it my life to know it’s real; not always blatant but pretty insidious. I’ve known people who had to lose their strong regional accents in order to succeed. There was a BBC reporter who was attacked because of her accent a few years ago. I’ve certainly noticed how people have often treated me based entirely on my accent and background. I was once told I needed to get rid of my accent to get on in academia and that it might hold me back. Not sure how true that was (I could never get into academia… which might prove the point!) but the prejudice was there and explicit in at least this one person. Always galled me that northern unis are often filled with southerners. Conversely, isn’t it noticeable how so many young political pundits are of a certain type? Big hair, big collars, blazers, shirt open to the third button, pure RP. I could give a lot more examples but that would involve my breaking confidences…

    2. PS. Regarding academia. I could have explained it better. I suspect interviewers perhaps unconsciously expect a certain kind of candidate who sounds like them and has a similar background. It’s a bias that’s hard to prove except by pointing out that many jobs go to people most like the people conducting the interview. Or, at least, it was when I was in that world. Perhaps it’s improved but I doubt it.

  3. Bit of a grim assessment as to why people drink. Most people drink because they enjoy it, it’s a minority that abuse alcohol. I’d agree that pubs have reopened too early. Having said that, they should have been able to do so in an orderly and safe manner had the right precautions been put in place. That however would have taken some effort on the part of national and local government to inspect premises and put maximum head counts on each venue and bring in a ban on alcohol being consumed outside of pub premises. It’s almost as if the government want to spend Covid as widely as possible before the winter…….

    The biggest indicator as to whether you will do well educationally and economically is class, or your parents wealth and profession if you prefer it in those terms. Working class people are more vilified today than at any point in my life, not least by the middle class left. Bit of a bugbear for me so I’m not going to delve into it. You sound very posh compared to me David, so you can imagine how middle class people react to me.

    You might find these links interesting

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/class-privilege-remains-entrenched-as-social-mobility-stagnates
    https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/social-mobility-commission

    1. Literally just sat down at my desk. Your comments are pre-approved for publication but I think WordPress is a little more twitchy when they contain links. I had to approve it myself.

      Plus, I’d never censor any comment but I’ll get to my sounding posh in a minute… 😉

  4. Was only joking about censorship, hope that was obvious. Notice I said you were comparatively posh, I’m very careful not to damage the man of the people aspect of “brand Waywell”. 😉

    1. Oh, I’m hyper-sensitive to manners (especially first thing on a Monday morning when my head is still a bit thick) so the idea of my censoring you made me go cold. 🙂

      As it so happens, I think I do sound posh — completely normal, RP English, the lot — and it’s only when I hear myself that I’m appalled. I’m going to touch on this in today’s blog post so I’ll save it for there.

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It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?

Really?

Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.