In this fast-moving world, it’s nice when something slows you down — like the person in front of you in the queue at the bar. And if that person plans to order a gin, it really helps not to be in a hurry.
In the past it wasn’t really important what brandMarkebrand you got when you asked for a gin and tonic. You were probably given Gordon’s, which was the only one most of us had heard of. Now there are hundreds to choose from: local gin, craft gin, gin you drink with lemon, gin you drink with cucumberGurkecucumber, gin made with spices, fruit, flowers and no doubt weedUnkrautweeds.
So when the barman asked the woman in front of me what particular gin she wanted, it took her a while to make up her mind.
“Gordon’s?” she said, tentativelyzögerndtentatively. The choice seemed unimaginative.
“Sorry, we don’t have that one,” said the barman. Silly me!Ich Dummerchen!Silly me for thinking that the wait was finally over.
It can’t be good for us to be making so much gin. We’ve been here before. In the 18th century, gin was sold everywhere. The population was never sobernüchternsober. The working classes were the non-working classes. A picture called Gin Lane by William Hogarth shows family life in ruins, with women so drunk they can’t look after their children.
The government had actually encouraged the production of gin, because it helped to keep the price of grain high. But by 1736, people were drinking so much that a law was passed to try to limit sales.
It’s like diesel cars today. First the government wanted us to buy them, because they give off less CO2 than petrol ones. But they forgot that diesel engines give off fumesAbgasefumes, and now they have to find ways of limiting air pollution. Would it help to make craft diesel flavoured with herbs, fruit and spiceGewürzspices?
You might think the 1700s were no more than history. But watch out for Jacob Rees-Mogg, another embarrassingpeinlichembarrassing British politician. He’s a Conservative member of parliament — the MP for North East Somerset. For fun, though, his colleagues call him “the MP for the 18th century”.
Why? We’re not saying he’s never heard of modern inventions like mobile phones and Australia. It’s just that he looks so old-fashioned and sounds so reactionary. And some say he could be our next prime minister. In that case, a gin shop on every corner would be the only way to make life bearableerträglichbearable.
Talking of gin, has the woman in front of me finally chosen? No, she’s still to hum and hawherumdrucksenhumming and hawing. I know there’s a queue, but there comes a point where you have to to barge insich einmischenbarge in.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to barge in...”
“Bar gin? You seriously want to bar us from drinking gin?”
Of course not. It wouldn’t be human, nor practical. But could we at least barhier: verbietenbar people from voting for politicians who make us so depressed that we can’t stop drinking it? It’s a bit undemocratic, but just think of how good it would be for our health.