Friday, 5 February 2010

Temperance logic

The lack of analytical powers amongst those with an ideological opposition to alcohol is nothing new. In fact, an ability to ignore any evidence that doesn't fit their pre-formed views is a defining feature of temperance thinking across the centuries.

The text below recounts an encounter between Sydney Nevile* and some temperance thinkers during WW I.
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"I remember Lord Astor once introducing a deputation representing various temperance organizations, including many clergy of different cloth. In view of Monmouthshire's geographical position and industrial relationship with Wales, it had been decided to extend the Welsh law of Sunday closing to cover this adjacent English county. Naturally the temperance movement welcomed this decision, and the suggestion they now wished to make to the Central Control Board was that the Sunday closing regulation should be extended to the whole of the country. They urged d'Abernon and the Control Board to consider this on the ground that if industrial efficiency had increased in Monmouth, nation-wide Sunday closing would result in a similar increase in efficiency everywhere. D'Abernon promised to give the matter his full consideration, and expressed sympathy with their object. He then asked me if I had anything to say. So far as I am aware, none of the deputation, except Astor, knew who I was; they only regarded me with some respect as a member of the Board. I asked a question they had not expected. If, I said, the Board made investigations and found that other districts where public houses were open on Sundays had given evidence of greater increase in efficiency than Monmouth, would they regard that as a good reason for re-opening public houses on Sundays in Monmouth and, indeed, for extending Sunday opening to Wales? This mild inquiry was given a shocked and almost venomous reception, so Astor hastily intervened to say it was a difficult question and would require careful consideration. At this point the deputation withdrew."
"Seventy Rolling Years", by Sydney Nevile, 1958, page 107.

Depressingly, this could have happened yesterday. 



* Sydney Nevile was a fascinationg character who worked in the brewing industry for more than 70 years, starting in 1886. During WW I he worked for a brewer at Brandon's, a small London brewery, but was also a member of the Central Control Board, a body which controlled many aspects of the brewing trade.

Wouldn't that label make a great sign for the Gunmakers?

13 comments:

mentaldental said...

Reminded me of the recent parliamentary select committee who ignored the data (which they published) showing that alcohol consumption in Britain is falling because it did not fit in with their preconceived report. Nothing changes.

Yes that label would look great at the Gunmakers.

scissorkicks said...

Love that bloodthirsty Maxim label. Always puzzles me why vendors at beer festivals in the UK don't sell merchandise with designs like that on them (which are presumably out of copyright, particularly when the company is long gone like Vaux), rather than the sexist / xenophobic / generally unfunny and embarrassing crap stuff they do.

Cooking Lager said...

Fascinating stuuf

StringersBeer said...

Wasn't the scary-sounding "Central Control Board" the body that determined the almost totalitarian control of the booze during that old WWI ?

Ron Pattinson said...

StringersBeer, I don't think there was any almost involved. The Food Controller issued orders without any reference to parliament.

In many ways WW I food control was a dress rehearsal for WW II. I was impressed by how early during WW II (1939) British planners came to the conclusion that the war would not be over quickly and started planning four or five years in the future. By preparing early they were able to avoid the type of food crisis that happened in 1917.

Ron Pattinson said...

Scissorkicks, couldn't agree with you more. There were some great label and poster designs in the first half of the 20th century.

Anonymous said...

You can still see Brandons of Putney insignia on pubs around South West London, if you know what to look for. The Three Kings in Twickenham, for example (Brandon's took over Cole's, the local brewer, about 1898)

Barm said...

Not just the first half of the century; some of the 1960s Courage labels look strikingly modern even now. Somewhere in the 1980s people started using a pastiche of the old-fashioned name-around-an-oval designs again...

Alistair Reece said...

I saw the title of post and immediately thought of the lead character in Bones - not sure what that says about me though.

Ron Pattinson said...

Al, you've lost me there.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, the Courage ones aren't bad, but there are plenty of awful labels from the 1960's and 1970's.

Velky Al said...

it is a TV show over here, about a forensic anthropologist called Temperance, who happens to be very attractive and unerringly rational. I guess I just have a thing for brainy girls.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bones_(TV_series)

Ron Pattinson said...

Al, I'm clearly do longer down with the kids.