The Art of Drinksmanship, 1975

The 1970s are strangely tainted at the minute, as you don’t need me to tell you. “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there,” said L. P. Hartley in The Go-Between (note, this is not J. R. Hartley of Fly Fishing fame). This seems fairly self evident of a century ago, but quite odd to think of the decade of my birth as belonging to such a different social landscape to now.

Oh, that's wonderful!

Oh, that’s wonderful!

Not that today’s book is the greatest example of such a gulf in attitudes, but still, things would be done differently today.

The Art of Drinksmanship is a book from 1975 that I refuse to believe is not in the personal library of Steph and Dom, the posh ones from Gogglebox. If you want to party 1970s style (er…) then this is the manual for you. I feel well disposed to this book largely because it sounds like an off-shoot of Stephen Potter’s Gamesmanship. The 1940s and 50s Gamesmanship, Oneupmanship, Lifemanship and Supermanship books are a must for the comedy lover, some of the funniest books I have read. In them, there are many forms of getting one over on someone else – gambits on how doctors can maintain superiority over their patients, how babies can employ “Babymanship” by wobbling their head alarmingly and worrying their parents, and how you can stay one up on your friends and colleagues in general. The proponent of these gambits is called the “Lifeman” and, therefore the reader of this book could be called the “Drinksman”. I do know one or two people who could genuinely hold that title – Simon Lawson, I’m looking at you.

The Art of Drinksmanship, 1975

The Art of Drinksmanship, 1975

There’s lots of colourful pictures of the many boozes of the world. What immediately struck me, though, was the answer to a perennial problem of mine – how to serve a lovely old bottle of Burgundy? I mean, now I see it, it’s obvious. A nice cut glass decanter and glasses, some rather indulgent pate….and a dead duck, artfully draped. It’s touching the decanter! It’s eyes are still weeping! Who came up with that idea?

1970s barmaid. There was a good reason for this picture, it was illustrating a very salient point that I seem to have forgotten.

The 1970s, there

The 1970s, there

Instructions on how to have a party, 1975-style. Can’t help thinking that jumpers-on-shoulders guy is feeling slightly awkward at this party. He’s come smart casual, everyone else is at a Moroccan orgy.

Hangover cures. Basically – if you can hold of an oxygen canister, you’re laughing. I agree with it though, speaking as someone who is completely rubbish at drinking – loads of water is the key.

When the party's over

When the party’s over

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