Drunkenness is his best virtue

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In fact, the closest I got to champagne was pink prosecco...

In fact, the closest I got to champagne was pink prosecco…

Well, it’s Christmas and I had a bit of a heavy week last week. Turns out I can’t do four nights on the trot with a heavy cold. Not that I ever thought I could, it was kind of unavoidable, but now I have definite proof…

I wasn’t the only one. In Alexandria, Enorbarbus tells us “most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be-drunk to bed”. I think we can probably all recognise the path laid out by Olivia’s Fool:

OLIVIA. What’s a drunken man like, fool?

CLOWN. Like a drown’d man, a fool, and a madman: one draught above heat makes him a fool; the second mads him; and a third drowns him.

And most of us may well have echoed the words of Cassio, “I am not drunk now; I can stand well enough, and I speak well enough.”*

I hope most of us are better liked by our companions than Portia liked the Duke of Saxony’s nephew: “Very vilely in the morning when he is sober; and most vilely in the afternoon when he is drunk.” And it’s good to know what type of drunk you are:

  • Borachio’s secret spiller “I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee”
  • Leontes’ “I have drunk, and seen the spider” jealousy; and
  • Lady Macbeth as the type to glass someone down the pub – “That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold; What hath quench’d them hath given me fire.”**

The morning comes, as Friar Laurence tells us “flecked darkness like a drunkard reels From forth day’s path”.*** This is when you have to do the reckoning up of the night before, contend with your sober colleagues, and decide whether you are going to be apologetic or, like Macbeth’s porter, totally own it…

MACDUFF. Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,

That you do lie so late?

PORTER. Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; and

drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

MACDUFF. What three things does drink especially provoke?

PORTER. Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir,

it provokes and unprovokes: it provokes the desire, but it takes

away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an

equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets

him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him and disheartens

him; makes him stand to and not stand to; in conclusion,

equivocates him in a sleep, and giving him the lie, leaves him.

MACDUFF. I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.

PORTER. That it did, sir, i’ the very throat on me; but requited

him for his lie, and, I think, being too strong for him, though

he took up my legs sometime, yet I made shift to cast him.


*Normally while narrowly avoiding falling off the edge of a station platform.

**Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!

*** If you are still drunk at this point you are doing well, particularly during a northern hemisphere Christmas when dawn is at about 8 in the morning.

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