London Diary: Return of the 'Pint bottle' post-Brexit, 'good for two at lunch and one at dinner'

As barbers bow out of gentlemen's clubs of London, like the Cavalry and Guards Club, Britain is offering the return of pint sized bottles of wine as a Brexit-dividend

Representative image
Representative image

Hasan Suroor

Pint-sized Brexit dividend

There was a time in Britain when you could buy a pint-sized bottle (equivalent of India’s pawwa/quarter bottle) of champagne and it was so popular that nearly 60 per cent of all champagne sold in the country came in pint bottles.

Even Winston Churchill, a self-confessed boozer who famously began his day with a “whiskey mouthwash”, liked to have his champagne in small measures describing a full bottle as “too much for me”. A pint bottle (261 ml), he said, was the “ideal size...enough for two at lunch and one at dinner”.

“My wife thinks that a full bottle is too much for me, but I know that half a bottle is insufficient to tease my brains...The compromise of the pint pleases everyone, even the producer”, he joked. Alas, after Britain joined the EU, the pint bottle went out the window as imperial measures were replaced by metric system to make labelling clearer and make it easier to sell products in different markets in Europe.

But guess what? The ‘pawwa’ is coming back, we are told, as part of the so-called “Brexit dividend”, political-speak for gains supposed to accrue from leaving the EU and regaining “control” over how Brits run their affairs.

“Pint-sized bottles were a victim of the EU’s war against imperial measurements, which are widely used and understood in this country...Now we’ve left the EU, we can rid ourselves of rules like this. Work is under way in government to make this change happen,” official sources reportedly told The Daily Telegraph.

The move is also being peddled as good for health. As a pintbottle contains two glasses, less than the six glasses contained in a full bottle, it promises to reduce alcohol consumption.

It’s the second post-Brexit victory for old-fashioned Brits since they won the right to use imperial measurements again to sell fruit and vegetables in kilos.

Meanwhile, elsewhere there’s little evidence of a Brexit dividend. On the contrary, life has become more difficult after Brexit with broken supply chains, labour shortages, and bureaucratic hurdles hitting availability of essential goods and resulting in price rise. No wonder, support for Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit has dropped significantly with just 30 per cent of the people satisfied with it.

‘Gentlemen’, no more

Once upon a time, Britain’s gentlemen’s clubs were more than just places you visited for a boozy lunch. They were akin to a second home. You could stay the night there after a hectic evening, have your suit ironed, get your laundry done, and even get a quick haircut courtesy an on-site barber.

For much of their long history it had been the norm for men’s clubs to have their own barbers. Alas, not any more. Change has caught up with even clubs that were once seen as immune to change such as London’s staunchly traditional Cavalry & Guards club. So, the news that it’s shutting down its men’s barbering service after nearly a century has shocked its members.

So much so, that The Times thought it fit to run a long story with an interview with its outgoing barber, 85-year-old Philip Kyriacou, who is leaving after a three-decade long association with the club. He said that he had ‘mixed feelings’ —sad to leave but bowing to the call of the times.“All good things come to an end, don’t they?” he said.

With his retirement the number of “clubland barbers” is down to just three. The club attributed its decision to a fall in demand for its barbering service: a sign of the changing lifestyles of even more traditional British “gentlemen”.

Novel protest

Students of Britain’s Durham University have hit upon a novel idea to press for the resignation of a senior academic for allegedly using insulting language when berating them for protesting against a guest speaker. They have threatened to stop paying their hostel rent if their demand is not met.

“If we come back next term and there is still not adequate action taken by the university then a rent strike is something that is definitely on the table and something we would support,” said president of the Working-Class Students’ Association, Jamie Halliwell.

The move will hit the university where it hurts the most: its earnings. As The Times noted: “With in-college accommodation at around £8,000 a year, the strike could prove highly costly to the university, which in recent months has been at the centre of a number of controversies.”

New word

Porch shame: It’s when someone draws attention to the shabby look of the property you live in causing you to feel embarrassed.

And, lastly, Brits could be forced to undergo training in dog-grooming before they are allowed to keep a pup at home. This follows an alarming rise in violent dog attacks on strangers with their owners shrugging off any responsibility, blaming the violence on “animal instinct”.

A report commissioned by the government, however, says that a dog’s behaviour is determined by how they are brought up by their owners.

This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.

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