There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Switching metaphors at the points, if it were a loaf of bread, you’d just be able to see it start to rise.
It’s been a very long three months, but on NYE I printed off a rough, shaky first draft of my next book. The chapters that aren’t quite finished are bloody awful. The chapters that are finished are pretty good – or at least, my long-suffering editor and wife think so. And I have two weeks left to kick, bitch-slap, coax, polish, persuade, trick and massage the rest of it into shape.
This week, then, represents a partial return to the blogosphere. Don’t try to pretend you missed me, now.
I’m ashamed to say my first post-book post is a shameless plug, but it is for something I think you’ll like.
Last May I spent an afternoon in the Jolly Butchers with a BBC film crew. I’d just about forgotten about it, and then I got a call this morning to say that the programme is finally going out this week.
It’s a Timeshift documentary called The Rules of Drinking, and it charts our relationship with booze, particularly since the Second World War. Me and a chap called Iain Gately, whose book on the History of Drink you should have on your shelves, are the two main contributors, only you’re spared having to watch much of me by some fantastic archive footage they’ve found to go over the things we’re talking about.
Here’s the blurb, from BBC4:
Timeshift digs into the archive to discover the unwritten rules that have governed the way we drink in Britain.
In the pubs and working men’s clubs of the forties and fifties there were strict customs governing who stood where. To be invited to sup at the bar was a rite of passage for many young men, and it took years for women to be accepted into these bastions of masculinity. As the country prospered and foreign travel became widely available, so new drinking habits were introduced as we discovered wine and, even more exotically, cocktails.
People began to drink at home as well as at work, where journalists typified a tradition of the liquid lunch. Advertising played its part as lager was first sold as a woman’s drink and then the drink of choice for young men with a bit of disposable income. The rules changed and changed again, but they were always there – unwritten and unspoken, yet underwriting our complicated relationship with drinking.
The waspish and lovely Grace Dent gave the programme a fantastic write-up in the Guardian last Saturday, acknowledging that there is such a thing as binge drinking, without being judgemental about it or trying to build it to a point of hysteria. She concludes: