Empire of Booze

By Henry Jeffreys

A history of the British Empire told through drink

Monday, 31 March 2014

New Spectator article on drinking with my dear old Dad

Here's something I wrote recently for the Spectator. Be warned, it contains references to my misspent youth:

Many men really can only communicate through sport. It provides a ritualised way to argue, to become passionate and to bond without having to talk about awkward things such as feelings. This is never truer than of father-and-son relationships. But my father and I never had this common ground. He was a brilliant sportsman as a schoolboy and as an adult a keen golfer and rugby player. I, on the other hand, combined a scrawny physique with physical cowardice and an extraordinary lack of co-ordination.

My brothers weren’t much better but at least they were interested in watching sport and would accompany him to Lord’s and Twickenham. I envied their ease around him. To give him credit, he did try to find things that we were both interested in. There was motor racing: he couldn’t stand the noise so had to buy headphones, at which point he fell asleep.

And then there was the theatre. For years we went to highly lauded productions such as Diana Rigg in Medea or Michael Gambon in Beckett’sEndgame. On arrival my father would take his seat, mutter something about how he loved Euripides and then, just after the curtain came up, fall asleep. I would sit out of my mind with boredom wishing I was at home with a book. After a particularly bad run of plays, I finally admitted to him that I didn’t really enjoy the theatre. He was disappointed but I think relieved.

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