Thursday, November 15, 2007

Make Mine a Veuve Clicquot

It only goes to show just how mistaken you can be. Just as I was always told that you can't judge a book by its cover, I see now that my impressions of the British binge drinker were totally erroneous.
Wrongly, I had assumed that the hordes of youths vomiting on pavements and the legless ladies in the gutters were symptomatic of the results of 24 hour drinking and sales of lager at 22 pence a can.
But I must apologise for I am told by no less an authority than a Minister of State, the delightfully named Dawn Primarolo (formerly known as Red Dawn until she needed a job with new Labour), that this is just an example of the success of the government plan to convert Britain to a European cafe society.
Apparently, the real threat comes not from gangs of drunken yobs on the streets as you thought but from a much more sinister region.
Behind the drawn curtains and closed doors of suburbia, it seems that every night there are scenes of unbridled alcoholic debauchery as Mr. and Mrs. Everyman get stuck in to the latest two for one offer from Tesco. Zinfandel flows like water, nouveau Beaujolais is delivered by fast truck and decadent games of Scrabble restricted to words to do with bibulous subjects are all the rage. Even Monopoly has made a comeback with railway stations being replaced by well known distilleries.
Miss Primarolo paints a ghastly picture of this closet decadence and, whereas I had vowed to stay off the city streets at night, now I find that I may be in greater danger from a stroll past a load of respectable semis. Who knows, I might be dragged in to join one of the vinous orgies that take place nightly?
Which brings me, by Eurostar naturally, to St. Pancras Station, a magnificent feat of preservation and the newspapers are full of excitement that Britain has entered the High Speed Train era, albeit 25 years too late.
But the item touted most prominently might well be symptomatic of the British attitude to drinking, for they proudly boast that the station has the longest champagne bar in Europe.
I hate to rain on their parade but might I ask why?
Does one start at one end and work your way up the line until you are legless and can then sleep it off on the train?
And, although I have lived much of my life in Europe, I can't recall having seen a champagne bar, long or short, even in Reims.
Miss Primarolo should get down there a bit sharpish I would suggest. Sounds just the sort of hangout for the middle classes that she's talking about.


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