Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Debate: The Dying Art of Lunchtime Drinking

posted by Brit

All this talk of cider puts me in mind of a chap I used to work with (small publishing company, he was Editor, I his Assistant). Every lunchtime he would slope down to The Oak and indulge in an hour of eloquent complaining about his employer, and while doing this he would sink three pints of thick, gut-rotting scrumpy.

Remarkably, this heroic routine didn't seem to affect his afternoon work one iota (but then he did have a background in the newspaper business). Personally, my constitution won't hold with liquid lunches. If daytime drinking is required, the only hope is to carry straight through until you reach that odd 'sobering up' point about 6pm, otherwise even a quick/swift/cheeky half is enough to send me into a fitful, nightmarish desksleep come mid-afternoon.

So, daytime drinking, people: yea or nay? And if yea, how much?

22 comments:

  1. It depends on how fragrant the booze is - colleagues will put up with drunken behaviour, will indeed generously ascribe it to madness, but boozy breath is unmistakeable and foul.

    i used to bring Jameson's into work in a hip flask and gulp just enough to take the edge off work. It's surprisingly useful for mind-numbingly mechanical labour such as data entry; i'm surprised employers don't sanction drink in this area, it's not as if i was reeling about or giggling, i was just blissfully beclouded in Jameson's, unable to feel the agony of brain-gangrene that ordinary mortals call 'boredom'.

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  2. Age must be catching up with you. In one's twenties, it's perfectly possibly to party all weekend, go to bed at 6 am on Monday, wake up at 7.30, shower, and survive 'n' thrive right through the day.

    When I started out, also as an assistant to an editor, our office was above an all-day drinking club run by a defrocked barrister, an expert in property law who outfoxed all attempts by the company to evict her. You could send down at any time for wine or beer and sandwiches which one of her lovelies would promptly bring up by the back stairs. Little work was done by today's standards, though a lot of talking, dreaming and napping. Ironically, our little department was fabulously profitable, more so probably than any other outfit I worked for. Removing the chance to dream under the lash of propriety and hard work doesn't necessary make for a more successful company.

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  3. Last year, when I was doing an Elberry and working for the local council doing data-entry myself and five or so like-minded co-workers would head down to the county cricket clubhouse for a pint or so. Our ultimate ambition was the 4 pint challenge - drinking four pints in an hour. It doesn't sound that hard, but believe me it's incredibly hard. Only one of us ever managed it and he did only because he hadn't eaten anything all day. Needless to say, he was as drunk as a lord by 3pm. Strangely, none of us got the sack!

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  4. The Germans, bless their little lederhosen, have no problem with daytime drinking, at teabreak and lunchtime, in their place of work. Drinks machines dispense Kolsch as well as Coke.
    Daytime tipple is age dependent, whilst young, bring it on down baby.
    As the call of the grim reaper grows ever louder and the need to pee more frequent.....

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  5. Mark, the name Clarissa Dickson-Wright somehow trips off the tongue.

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  6. Well, obviously it's a 'yea' if nothing is required of me that afternoon. By this I don't refer to my work, which can be done creditably with a surprising amount of alcohol in the bloodstream, but it is hard to justify turning up at the school gate reeking of burgundy. And trying to ensure that flutes get practised and homework gets done is no fun when all you want to do is lie down in front of the telly.

    My first job when I graduated was editorial assistant in a publishing house just off Covent Garden. Everybody used to go to the pub at lunchtime and, whisper it, we were allowed to smoke in the office. Happy days...

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  7. Not age in my case, Mark, but constitution - I couldn't hack lunch-break drinking in my twenties and I'm only thirties now (that pic is misleading - I don't actually look much like Winston Churchill holding a cricket bat).

    My view is that afternoons are designed for siestas anyway. We Anglo-Saxons have it all wrong with our ridiculous pretend work-ethic.

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  8. Alas not, Malty, or we'd probably still be there, eating the most delicious treats and enjoying some brilliant stories. It was someone else, now departed for the happy lunching grounds in the sky if I recall correctly. There were quite a few of these places in the West End at the time, all now replaced by floozie bars for Fundies and Russian gangsters I'd guess. A vanished world, and I just caught the end of it before the American corporations bought up everything in the 1980s.

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  9. Use makes master. You're just not trying hard enough.

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  10. Ah, the carefree days. A very civilized habit, but only for the young. Sometime in middle age one must bow to the inevitable and demonstrate maturity and discipline by passing and adding the lunchtime quota to the evening intake in the privacy of one's home.

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  11. Yes it seems to be an age thing mostly - my constitution no longer allows me to drink during the day (without deeply regretting it), but is eager for the off by about 6pm. Odd...

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  12. i find you can get away with a certain degree of work drunkedness if one's colleagues expect you to suddenly start laughing at nothing, to hop down corridors flapping your arms and squawking, to threaten to kill people over minor slights, to smash office furniture in a homicidal rage, to perform loud galdor chants, to shave all your arm hairs off at your desk, etc. Once they understand that, for you, this is perfectly normal behaviour, you can get away with a fair bit of booze - unless they can smell it on you they have no way of knowing if you're drunk or 'just acting daft as usual'.

    i also find that i, rather perversely, i am more 'professional' when drunk, as i try to keep myself tamped down; when i'm sober, especially when i'm bored, i sort of go a bit funny.

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  13. No can do and never could. Even a mere glass of wine at lunch will put me to sleep by 3 p.m. But in the newspaper biz, many a scribe has been known to down several, then get to typing up their stories. It's why copy editors are so very necessary.

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  14. Back in the days of yore when men were men and women tended to wear knickers, and during the great winter of discontent there resided the infamous three day week, if my sums are correct that left two days of enforced idleness, for the proletariat, as a filthy capitalist pig I had no such luxury. As we were banned from using the electricity there was little we could do. A group of us would zero in on a tidy little Pub in Hitchin and while away the afternoons, unfortunately drinking brandy. The third time I returned home minus a car and somewhat lacking in stability, questions were asked, the sort that demanded immediate answers. All good things must come to an end.

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  15. Summer or Winter drinking habits?

    PS. how is the poem to the bankers coming along? maybe you need more booze to finish to job off?

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  16. Do you know, passer by, I just can't think of a suitable noun to rhyme with 'bankers'...

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  17. you are definitely not drinking enough! Have a binge before its banned.

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  18. From the official site of Colonial Williamsburg:

    In 1790, United States government figures showed that annual per-capita alcohol consumption for everybody over fifteen amounted to thirty-four gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits, and one gallon of wine.

    I know we're not the men our fathers were, but we're also not the men our mothers were.

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  19. david, our ancestors certainly drank more than we did, the water was more dangerous.

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  20. I know that Bryan often gets up (or stays up?) in what is for me the middle of the night, to blog (and bog?), but if you check the timings on most of the above, isn't this comment section the very substitute we all cling to, now that we can't handle our Lunchtime O'Booze moments through the march of time?
    Jamesons was my tipple too elberry, back in dear dirty Dublin, but a hip-flask would never have contained the volume required to start the motor at, say, noon or 1.00pm. And as for going back afterward, begob no.

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  21. It depends on what you're doing for a living. If you're driving a back hoe, well god no, you shouldn't drink at lunch. But in more intellectual fields, hey, if it jump starts a few neurons, go for it.


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