First out of the Christmas stocking was a copy of Sir Kingsley Amis’s Everyday Drinking. This was published in 2008 by his literary estate but comprises newspaper articles from another age perhaps about 1972 to 1985 and one can check this readily enough since he refers to the £1 bottle of wine or some such fantasy. Interestingly, he also refers to champagne priced at £6.50 which is not a lot less than current special offers at various supermarkets. Prices move in a mysterious way.
I can’t here summarise this book. Save that I would say it has a lot of detail of a lot of drinks that would have knocked even me over within the first hour of a session – Sir Kingsley clearly took his subject seriously. The book is called Everyday Drinking and, as a result, the reader might suppose that he is considering ordinary booze at a modest price. Far from it: the title is derived from the fact that Sir Kingsley must have been flat out boozing every day to make sure he covered the ground. This is quite a different idea. Although I should add that he died relatively young since he obviously drank too much.
However – and I pass this on to readers since it is a vitally important snippet – he does stress that the Dry Martini when well done cannot be over-praised. The definition of “well done” for these purposes is partly a matter of taste and I have known purists who have brought into the mixing area a bottle of vermouth without actually taking the cork out. Certainly, I am reminded that if you are ever lost in a jungle you need only set out a table upon which you are overtly mixing a Dry Martini and, for sure, a voice will emerge offstage declaiming that That Is Not How To Make A Dry Martini – whereupon one traipses back to civilisation.
Whatever. Sir Kingsley mentions that that supremely successful capitalist and stock operator John D Rockefeller rated a Dry Martini his favourite drink and lived until he was 98. So one should not hold back on health grounds.
Finally, I had thought that one could get a copy of Everyday Drinking for virtually nix on Amazon. But, au contraire, you’ll have to cough up a bit more. Still well worth it.
On a less serious note, Nkotozo Qwabe is digging his own grave by remarking that students at Oxford “endure systematic racism, patriarchy and other oppressions”. He is of course the fellow who proposes that the statue of Cecil Rhodes in Oriel should be taken down.
In his defence, there is something in the mere presence of a name that can cause offence – as I now illustrate: I myself tend to reckon that people get unduly fussy and, along these lines, proposed a few years ago to call one of my racehorses Hitler. I was strongly advised that this would cause great offence. So I take it that offence is possible. That being so, it is all a matter of judgement. It is here that Nkotozo demonstrates that he has none. And that is the point.