“Almost all of this country’s most famous names been unapologetic boozers. From Kate Moss to Francis Bacon to Christopher Hitchens to the Queen Mum, Brits have a great tradition of not letting their functional alcoholism drag them down. Without it, arguably, we would not have punk rock, romantic poetry or basic democratic freedoms — for as Churchill urged us to remember, he ‘took more out of alcohol’ than alcohol took out of him.
If prohibition was instituted in this country tomorrow, dancefloors would empty out, small talk would be replaced by awkward silence and the birth rate would plummet. Even more alarmingly, ratings for the X-Factor would dry up (who could bear to watch it sober?), Lily Allen would stop tweeting, Tracey Emin would make her bed and Amy Winehouse would have nothing to write songs about. In short, it would be a disaster.
As a culture, Britain is certainly alcohol dependant. But if it’s not dangerous, why fight it? The French have cheese, the Italians have sex, the Chinese have work, the Americans have optimism and on this soggy little island, we have a stiff drink at the end of the day. Where’s the shame in that?”Our cover picture, by Carla Millar, shows the killjoys – from Harperson and Donaldson to Sir William Joynson-Hick – protesting outside a boozer. And, inside, the drinkers (Spectator readers and writers), drinking on happily, with one even inviting them in. Something which, I like to think, sums up the spirit of The Spectator better than any political creed. Happy New Year to y’all.