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Issue 47 - Living for the weekend

Whisky Magazine Issue 47
April 2005


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Living for the weekend

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a grainy reflection of working class life as it used to be in the British Midlands. Jefferson Chase looks at the role alcohol plays in this classic

One of the things about being male is that there are so many different ways of getting in trouble.

Curiously enough, most of these disasters seem to occur in conjunction with alcohol, at precisely those moments when we feel most confident in the essential goodness of our intentions, i.e. our ability to get away with anything. Big mistake.

To quote a friend of mine who lives in Nottingham, England: no matter what you do, they always know it was you. Maybe it's something in the water of the River Trent, but he's not the only one. Midlander Alan Sillitoe's 1958 novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is also all about screwing up one's life while under the influence.

The story begins with hero Arthur Seaton downing seven portions of gin and 13 pints of ale as part of drinking contest, falling down a flight of pub stairs and fighting a losing battle against increasingly insistent waves of nausea.

For the third time he demanded a pint. His eyes were glazed with fatigue, and he would have let go of the bar-rail had not an ever-ready instinct of self-preservation leapt into his fist at the weakest moment and forced him to tighten his grip. He was beginning to feel sick, and in fighting this temptation his tiredness increased. He did not know whether he would go upstairs to Brenda afterwards, or have his pint and get home to bed, the best place when you feel donein, he muttered to himself.

Brenda is the wife of a fellow worker at the Raleigh bicycle factory, so Arthur faces the...

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