For the post title, I’ve taken slight liberties with a passage from George Orwell’s “Burmese Days“:
“It’s a tradition to booze together and swap meals and pretend to be friends, though we all hate each other like poison. Hanging together, we call it. It’s a political necessity. Of course drink is what keeps the machine going. We should all go mad and kill one another in a week if it weren’t for that. … Booze as the cement of empire.”
This is yet another dark quote on expat life from the novel’s 1920s English teak trader, Flory, who remains aloof in a very small, provincial expat community. (See here for another of his bleak, but foresightful, quotes.)
I drink, but raised in rather dry Utah, it’s taken me years to see alcohol as a normal part of life. Expats drink a lot and seeing the quantities consumed has been eye-opening. But then again, do I mean expats generally, or British expats more particularly? I’m not sure myself.