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Saturday, April 04, 2009

The great English pursuit

Went for a quick drink after work last night to mark a birthday. It was in a place called Smithy's down an unpromising street near Kings Cross. Everybody's drink was served in a glass bearing the branding of the drink they ordered. Presumably the idea is to carry the messaging of advertising into the retail environment itself, the better to engender loyalty and to ensure that even the drunkest customer approaching the bar ten minutes before closing simply has to thrust the glass forward and say "more of *this*".

I've just finished H.W. Brands' biography of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin spent his life commuting between the American colonies and England and never got over not just the amount the English drank but also the energetic, determined way they went about it. Brands quotes a contemporary account of an evening's entertainment in 18th century England.
"We continued," he says, " drinking like horses, as the vulgar phrase is, and singing till many of us were very drunk, and then we went to dancing and pulling of wigs, caps, and hats; and thus we continued in this frantic manner, behaving more like mad people than they that profess the name of Christians."

I can't get the image of people "drinking like horses" out of my mind.