A&E: Alcohol and England



Pickled. Soused. Mullered. Blotto. Hog-whimpering. Pie-eyed. Tired and emotional; downwind of a few. The presence of so many words and phrases in the English language to describe a state of inebriation surely says something about the English themselves: this is a nation that seeks the comfort of oblivion – towards the bottom of a bottle.

But why do the English tipple until they fall over? Is it simply the weather, so wearyingly unpredictable? Is it to overcome the awkwardness inherent in a half-denied class system? Is it just because the English are more culturally advanced, and have realized there is no cure for the human condition but nice-tasting painkillers?

All these possibilities are explored in Peter Dench’s witty, challenging, sometimes dazzling, sometimes affecting photo-diary of Anglo-Celtic drunkenness. The result is a unique and compelling visual history, full of photography that bears a striking resemblance to the drinking it depicts: at best it is perfectly intoxicating.

Retail price: £19.99