One of the first predictions at the first sign of an economic downturn was the fear of a rapid rise in general mean-spiritedness – leading to nationalism, protectionism and worse.
In some areas, though, a bout of grumpy nationalism wouldn’t be a bad thing. Especially if the backlash is directed against those rootless British metropolitans who are so revolted by anything natively British they are now incapable of leaving London except to go abroad.
If anyone has plans to start the ‘Pies not Pasta’ food movement, they’ll find me their first supporter. But there is something more immediate all readers of this blog can do to force the pace of change and help our indigenous booze industry at the same time. All they need do is boycott the stupid social practice of forcing people to drink wine in the absence of food.
Interestingly, though, the people who commit this sin think they are being European – yet it is a very British affectation. Few Frenchmen or Italians drink much wine on its own. It is frankly difficult to think of any alcoholic drink less pleasant to drink on an empty stomach than wine, and a few feeble canapés don’t improve things by much. But, as a result of a fancy-dan notion than wine is somehow sophisticated, it is now normal to go to afternoon events where there is no choice beyond (usually bad) red wine, (almost always bad) white wine, water or some infantile orange juice. I hate them all. I don’t expect a return to the cocktail age (Gimlet, anyone?), but we have perfectly fine indigenous alternatives in the shape of gin, whisky, Pimm’s, beer or the newly fashionable cider and perry, all of which are pleasanter and far more dependable (there is no beer as bad as the worst wine).
Kingsley Amis wrote the manifesto for this movement when he suggested that the three most depressing words in the English language were “red or white?” So, when offered wine, ask for beer or cider instead. If anyone asks why, tell them you are trying to save the planet by reducing your drink-miles.