Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trollied Tuesday: on not being a saloon bar bore

Here's some advice on that on avoiding that fate (or the worse one of people feeling sorry for you): don't make bluff jokes about rules for drinkings; and don't come up with a silly catchphrase when it comes to ordering a refill.

Once noon arrives, though, he brightens up, proposing the first scotch of the day with one of those bluff jokes about rules for drinking so dear to saloon bar bores the world over.

There's more of that in an (unintentionally) entertaining encounter between Decca Aitkenhead and Christopher Hitchens.

One school of thought has it that that "inside Hitchens the revolutionary, a home counties golf club bore is wildly signalling to be let out." Andrew M Brown goes on to argue that Hitchens's family background, naval, conservative and - damningly - minor public school is too heavily engrained on the character.

There's a danger of turning this into a nature vs nurture argument, isn't there? Still it is just as reasonable to argue that a full awareness of the horrors of a minor public school background would be enough to drive anyone into the arms of Bacchus.

Let's get back to that Guardian interview, shall we?, for there are a couple of other details worth noting. One the prissy, self righteous, perpetually disapproving tone adopted throughout by the interviewer that surely says as much about her as Hitchens's inner home counties bore says about him. (One notes also the tone is especially jarring from one who wrote a book about slumming it around the world while taking ecstasy).

One might argue that in the face of such purse-lipped prigishness one has a positive duty to make a drunken disgrace of oneself. In doing so, Hitchens manages a purely Gainsbourgian moment.

Poetry, he does volunteer, always played an important part in his impressive sexual success. "You're disarming yourself in an important struggle if you can't produce a fucking sonnet. What if I had to try on my own merits? You've got to have some sort of reserve arsenal." He looks incredulous when the photographer, a very beautiful young woman, expresses doubt about the efficacy of this seduction technique.

"Oh no, not if it's done right," he says knowingly. Go on then, I say. Give us a demonstration. "Maybe at lunch?" he suggests, cheering up immediately. "Let's have lunch, and make a day of it." And so, inevitably, we adjourn to the pub.


We pass a highly enjoyable few hours in a pub garden, during which he tries out successive renditions of a Shakespearean sonnet, Being Your Slave, What Should I Do But Tend, on the photographer.

"Well?", I ask her.

"Give her time to let it sink in!" he objects.

"Um," she ventures. "I'm feeling something like blind panic."

"Really? No!" And he's off again. "Being your slave what should I do but tend/Upon the hours and times of your desire?"

"My feeling," she reports kindly after he finishes, "is that I would be more seduced by argument."

It's not easy combining tragedy and comedy: if it requires a lifetime's drinking to do that, then pour the man another one.

Oh and as for the jokey attitude towards rules for drinking being the hallmark of the saloon bar bore; it's simpler than that. It's the having the rules themselves that are the problem.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you might like to know, I found the lewd nun artist mentioned in the comment below, Jean Jacques Lequeu (b.1757)

Dude was a prolific little libertine, but what's even more impressive is the comprehensive archive of all sorts of nifty things he drew. Our girl is #629 at:


11:27 am  

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