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It’s last orders for working-hours boozing. We should drink to that

4 3 0
15.06.2019

Has working-hours drinking culture died or is it just slumped in an office lavatory cubicle, sleeping off a liquid lunch?

I ask, because the London Metal Exchange has banned staff from drinking during working hours, just as Lloyds of London did in 2017. Which has to be good. (City traders, dealing in millions and billions, probably need to be sober? Discuss). Though maybe it’s yet another sign of the end of an era.

The first thing to note is that drinking during working hours is totally different to socialising at night. Compared with daytime inebriation, drinking at night is amateur hour. Nor is this the European form, where nice, elegant people enjoy the subtle bouquet of a glass of merlot. I’m talking about people leaving work for “lunch”, drinking copiously, then returning to work, fully convinced of their competence. A quintessentially British phenomenon that I was surprised to discover wasn’t entirely confined to journalists and politicians. Arguably, what’s interesting isn’t that this culture is ending, rather, that it was ever allowed to begin.

The key to understanding the day-drinking personality is to ignore their actual job and realise that inside, where it matters (maaan!), they are bohemians refusing to bow to societal convention. Think: Charles Bukowski meets Hunter S Thompson with a whiff of The Likely Lads – in certain circles, teamed with an exclusionary boys’ club mentality.

It’s not only men who are guilty of macho showboating over who can drink the most for the longest. While I never regretted my daytime drinking, other people did on my behalf. That’s the other thing about working-hours drinkers – most of us are royal........

© The Guardian