Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Why do you drink beer?

The wonderfully-named Jack Jones had a good answer to that question. Probably much the same as my answer would be. Though he puts it much better than I ever could.

Mr. Jack Jones, the outspoken Socialist member of Parliament for Silvertown, said his last word on the subject of beer. In an article in the Social Democrat he declares that "It is time that teetotal, as well as other fanatics in the Labour movement, were put in their places. It is time that all these people who preach against beer were made to drink a pint of it. I would like to make them drink one pint—and I would pay for it— just to see if there is the least possible chance of making them human."

Mr. Jones, when distributing: prizes in the games organised by the Silvertown Labour Party's annual outing committee, said: "The Government needs beer badly, and the man who needs it most in the Government is Sir William Joynson-Hicks, the Home Secretary.

"I am convinced that it if 'Jix' had a pint of beer he would ask for another. He is just us human as you or me, but a man with a Nonconformist conscience and a bee in his bonnet about beer cannot be expected to hold sane views about anything.

"Once I had an argument, with Lady Astor about beer. She said, 'Why do you drink beer?' and I said, 'Because I like it.' And she said. 'It does you a great deal of harm. It is ruining your constitution.' I said, 'My dear lady, you know nothing about constitutions. You know nothing about the British Constitution, and you know nothing about your own. You cannot even say 'British Constitution' as clearly as I can, although you have been a lifelong teetotaller. Moreover, you know nothing about beer, because vou have never tasted it.'"

The member for Silvertown believes that if beer is not the backbone of the British nation it at least helps to support the backbones of those who are obliged to bend them continuously during an eight-hour day. "It makes you pretty tired," he said, "to hear people who pride themselves on doing brain work trying to rob the working men of his beer. Most of these people haven't any brains to work, and if you asked them to do a hard days physical labour you would find that they hadn't any bodies worth mentioning. "Good beer," concluded Mr. Jones, "is essential to the manual worker."
Brewers' Journal 1927, page 550.

Lady Astor was a notiously miserable prohibitionist. And, like most of her kind, didn't worry about little details like facts when it came to her prejudice against alcohol.

Jack Jones, on the other hand, seems more my sort of bloke. You have to like someone who says this: "just to see if there is the least possible chance of making them human."

Sir William Joynson-Hicks - I bet he wasn't a Labour politician. Not with a name like that.


Matt said...

Jones was an Irishman from Tipperary who worked as a building labourer in London before becoming a Labour MP (I'd never heard of his constituency Silvertown before, apparently it's in East Ham now). Irish building workers are rarely teetotallers in my experience.

Joynson-Hicks seems to have been an authoritarian even among Tory Home Secreataries.

I agree with his answer to Lady Astor about why he drank beer: "Because I like it."

BryanB said...

I love it - many thanks!

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, thanks for the background.

Martyn Cornell said...

Silvertown is actually in West Ham, Matt, rather than in East Ham - it was part of the East End docks.

What I've learned today is that Jones was MP for a British political party I'd never heard of, the National Socialists (no relation), which eventually merged with the Labour Party.

Jones sounds an interesting character - see his Wikipedia entry