The Flashman's Scale of Drunkenness

 

0 Plain Tom Browned.....'Tom Brown's School Days'

1 Minutely Manchooed..... Manchoo Dynasty 'Flashman and the Dragon'

2 Vaguely Victoria crossed..... Awarded to Flashman in 'mountain of Light'

3 Reasonably Capriced.....'Flashman and the Tiger'

4 Nicely Yehonolared.....'Flashman and the Dragon'

5 Completely Cardiganed.....'Flashman' and 'Flashman and the Charge'

6 Downright Akbar Khaned.....'Flashman'

7 Utterly Bismarcked.....'Royal Flash' and 'Tiger'

8 Horribly Kabuled.....'Flashman'

9 Categorically Calcuttared.....Flashman in India, 'Mountain' and 'Great Game'

10 Practically Ranavolonaed.....'Flashman's Lady'

11 Seriously Custered.....'Flashman and the Redskins'

12 Excessively Elspethified.....'Flashman' etc

13 Absolutely ignatieffiflicated....'Flashman at the Charge'

 

 

A Victorian London Christmas example of how the scale works

You start the afternoon with you feet up in the drawing room before you go on to the club up town for lunch. Then on to one of the many bars around Holborn where singers and actors from the local theatres and halls gather in the late afternoon along with the dancers waiting for the hour to go on to the assembly rooms and dance away till after midnight. Note 1.

 

Drink Required..... Brandy Quota Zero, not even a whiff of Ale.

Scale and description ..... 0 ..... Stone cold sober.

Your brain is sharp as a Khyber knife, as in one pointed at you by a grinning Ghazi on a frosty morning in the Khoord-Kabul pass.

This won't do its Christmas, so you decide it's time for some wicked amusement.


Drink Required..... At least one Brandy imbibed or a pint of Best smoothly slipped down the gullet.

Scale and Description ..... 1 .....Still Sober. Pleasure senses activated. Feeling of well-being.

Christmas is a time of celebration and good cheer you order another drink.


Drink required ..... The swelling of the stomach caused by Beers will lead a distinct feeling of hunger. Brandy will warm

your throat and stomach, The warmth will be accompanied by a keen appetite.

Scale and Description ..... 2 ..... Head warming up, all senses are activated, partially the taste buds.

Staying in the bar you might tarry to order a plate mussels or pork scratchings, but instead you head to the your club and find the headwaiter; you order 'York Club Cutlets' Note 2


Drink required ..... Time to show off you knowledge of wines, never order the most expensive but don't go for the cheapest.

Scale and Description ..... 3 .....You will find you suddenly have more friends than you realised, also you discover a wit you had previously lacked.

Your new found confidence leads you to move on, you loudly announce that you know the finest place called the 'The Haunch of Venison' in Bell yard - Fleet street (Note 3)despite having never heard of the place before that afternoon.


Drink required ..... Order whatever the current drink of choice appears to be. It is time to start some serious drinking,

no time to contemplate the alternatives.

Scale and Description ..... 4 ..... Barmaids all appear attractive. You cannot take your eyes off the cleavage on view. You will probably move around the bar with the sole purpose getting the best view of the biggest available bubbies.

While ordering hot port wine the eye full you get causes you to consider your next move, spotting a fair looking portion; a large, calm looking shickster, you contrive an introduction by ordering yet more port wine.


Drink required ..... The drink of choice can change; you will have to switch your liqueur quicker than a train with a full head of stream going through kings Cross Junction on a busy night .

Scale and Description ..... 5 ..... You believe your new found wit is now accompanied by an alluring charm which is irresistible to all women. You formulate a theory that the mystery of sexes could be solved if only all men and woman in the world got along with each other in the manner you'd like to describe to the nearest available female. She may slap your face, the conclusion being she is too stupid to understand the theory.

You impatiently try to press the bawd to join you for the evening, she leaves you cold, apparently for a gentleman who looks quiet the spruce in a fashionable new suit. Rejected by the woman, who you now know is the 'Yarmouth Bloater', (Note 4) you decide the rest of the trulls hanging around the bar appear rather too shabby. You move off towards the 'White Lion' on Wych Street. Note 5.

 


Drink required ..... The variation in spirits will leave you feeling unsettled. Switch back to Brandy to still the queasiness.

Scale and Description ..... 6 ..... Your speech is now a little slurred and your footsteps unsteady. The ground has a habit of moving just before you step on it. However with concentration you will be sure to master this temporary difficulty.

Wondering down Fleet Street you realise Kingsway is behind you and you have been walking the wrong way towards Blackfriars Bridge. Seeing a welcoming door down a side street you fix you gaze upon it with fresh determination and make for this newfound goal.


Drink required ..... A good whiskey, with a sharp bite and a pungent aroma will steady you. You will wonder why you hadn't started drinking whiskey before, to catch up you might order another.

Scale and Description ..... 7 ..... You are now master of your environment, you suddenly understand the concept of Superiority - you now feel stronger surer of yourself than you ever have before. You are also sure that other drinkers must surely recognise your superiority by your handsome good looks.

As you turn to find a table you catch the eye of a red haired coquette, you wink with a grin and raise you hat rather too quickly. A rascal leaps to your elbow and grabs you rudely. "Sal's no mot, me swell cully. Scarper jig time or I'll poke your pugle." Quick as a flash you damn his eyes and denounce the red head for a pox ridden pavement pounder. Before you have chance to move you find you are out in the street on your back. Ignoring the bleeding lip the brawler gave you investigate the growing lump on the top of your head and wonder what type of place has barmaids who were prepared to smash the furniture over their patrons. The sign over the door reads. 'The Twelve Bells'. Note 6.


Drink required ..... Pangs of longing will start to take root soon, a good bottle of Champagne would be the best answer.

Scale and Description ..... 8 ..... You may feel world-weary or inexplicably remember all of your heartbreaks. You will feel very sorry for yourself.

You take a cab back down Fleet Street. Heading towards Strand and 'The coal Hole' (Note 7) to seek solace amongst the poets, on arrival you think better of the idea and head over the road to 'The Union' (Note 8) on Bow Street and decide to seek consolation amongst the top less dancers and popping corks instead.


Drink required ..... It matters little what is drunk now, but thirsts have to be satisfied - glasses can abandoned for bottles and bottles for punch bowls.

Scale and Description ..... 9 ..... Despite the amount you've drunk already this will be the time you consciously decide to make a night of it, you will start offering to buy everyone drinks.

Union seems to have been a really good idea you go around bar shaking hands, kissing hands and slapping backs. You fall over, and one of the girls dancing girls helps you up then you go around pub greeting everyone again.


Drink required ..... This is the end of one phase of the evening and the start of another, time take on board some sustenance before moving on to more vicious pleasures. Ring the changes with a 'last' short or two and cigar before leaving to search for grub.

Scale and Description ..... 10 ..... You may feel tired but you will be determined, out of misguided wisdom you will decide its is time to cut back on alcohol consumption so you order a short. A fancy for fine cigars and food will fill you along with expectation of more to came.

Going out into the street you head across the road to the 'Coal hole' and point out something on the menu, only afterwards you realise it was Herrings potted in Stout. You eat it anyway. Across the room someone is singing for his supper, he finishes a Christmas carol and starts a ballad the punters all join in:

..... ..... "See the park thronged with coaches, the nobles all run

..... ..... To view the dear angel - her ruin's just begun;

..... ..... Princes, dukes, lords and bankers are first in the train,

..... ..... In raptures they ogle, as yet but in vain;

..... ..... And see the old letcher, with rheum in his eyes,

..... ..... Scarely able to crawl, bidding high for the prize.

..... ..... Whilst rakes, bawds and panders are hunting her down,

..... ..... The beautiful Sally's first known to the town." (Note 9)

Through all six verses the punters cheer riotously at the amorous adventure and clap their hands in approval of the tale, including when poor Sally polluted and poxed draws her last breath.


Drink required ..... Drinking at this point usually pauses long enough to expunge some of the night's excess. Brandy is recommend by most to settle a weak stomach .

Scale and Description ..... 11 ..... Some doubling of vision will occur along with standing on tables, words are slurred, most things will now be sung loudly out of tune instead of merely spoken. You may decide it is time to you tell all your friends and family that you love them regardless of the fact that may be sleeping or absent. If absent you will tell a stranger how much love your friends and family, then you tell the stranger how much you love them after which you will invariably throw up.

You find yourself in a cab going towards Kensington. You don't remember getting the cab, but you had told him to take you to number 36 Brompton Road (Note 10) On route you have to stop to relieve yourself of some jumpy Herrings. On arrival at Brompton Road you recognise the house as that of a mistress you haven't seen in some time. With a yearning heart and a spinning head you realise it must love that has brought you this way and that if you had married her all would be well and you would not be out late alone with an aching head instead of in her arms. You decide you must tell her immediately and proceed to bang on the front door awakening the entire house hold. Your protestations of love go unheard, the words are drowned in a deluge of cold water from an upstairs window. The experience is repeated two streets away at the residence of another old acquaintance; Laura Bell (Note 11) where you are taken for some kind of vagrant. The repeated soakings start to sober you up enough to realise you are already married. It dawns on you that to be wondering aimlessly down Rotten Row, Hyde Park with the night at its zenith, after such a promising start to the evening is something of a waste. You decide to get yourself down to Trafalgar Square and the Hay Market! Pulling your coat straight and brushing your hat down you set off across the park.


Drink required ..... Any kind of cool liquid. Mixed with Gin of course.

Scale and Description ..... 12 ..... There will be gaps, you will forget where you've been or have difficulty remembering where you were going. You may hope somebody recognises you to tell you who you are, before someone asks such an embarrassingly simple question.

Coming out of Hyde Park you wander down Piccadilly towards the Burlington Arcade (Note 12) where despite the late hour the shops, boutiques and cider cellars are still open. You stop at a stall and quaff a strongly laced cordial. The street is busy and full of jovial friendly people. However you decide that since most of the folk are either street-walkers, and their bullies, pickpockets and ponces touting for business that you would be safer taking a cab. Seeing a trap stop at the junction with Bond street you jump up and swing up on to the footplate. You gasp in amazement at the sight of an exquisitely refined and delightfully petite looking courtesan sitting in the corner of the cab. "er, Miss, Pardon me for this intrusion..." She flutters her eyes in a pretence of shock, but you recognise the subtle sign that it is only feint. "- but what a coincidence we both appear to be travelling the same road?" She assumes another attitude, one of alluring expectancy, which you just can't resist. Without realising it you speak out loud "I've been looking forward to this all night." She keeps the pretence of innocence up a little longer than explains that she had been to theatre and it had been a frightful bore, she suddenly lets out a delightful giggle. It appears the popsy is tipsey as a pixie paddling in a punch bowl. You ask that you might share the cab? With a frolicsome wave she bids the driver onward. The closeness in coach and its gentle swaying placate your still throbbing head, the hand put out to stop you sliding forward as the coach bounces over a pot hole is not withdrawn. Neither is it withdrawn as you pull the warm soft bundle of crinolines, bustles, and bubbies into a firm embrace.


Drink required ..... Sensibly maybe only sweet liqueurs, since you've come this far any combination would do.

Scale and Description ..... 13 ..... You pass out, when you do wake up the gentle swaying of the bed, floor, field is lulling you to sleep. Standing at this point is not practical since the laws of gratify have changed, the floor will move to maintain and angle of 0 degrees between itself and you, regardless of where the horizon, the sink and bathroom is.

You wake up in bed, you don't move at first but turning over you see that the sheets you are on are clean which you take to be a good sign. You remember getting out of the cab in Park Lane and being shocked at that peculiarity. You'd decided to play it out carefully: after all any courtesan who could afford to live in Park lane, just beyond Buckingham Place, was out of your price range! You stretch, experimenting with the extent of the pain movement still caused. You suddenly go cold. You daren't open your eyes again. You realise you must still be in the house at Park Lane, after arriving and drinking a cherry Brandy and the water from a vase of flowers you don't remember anything. Lord, you think, this is when you'll found out you can't pay. You won't see her again just her maid, her 'mama', then the bullies would come. The panic raises your heart rate so your head threatens to explode. You squeal in fear and pain as you hear the sound the door opening and tray being placed on the bedside table. You stare in horror at you wife. No, not that! That's even worse than being done over by the bullies. Who brought her here? Or did she work here? Your wife smiles back kindly. "You had a late night last night, here have some coffee, a cab brought you home at three o'clock. You'd fallen asleep at the club." She pours a cup and plops two lumps into the hot liquid. You start at the sound. "Here this will make you feel better. How did the Christmas shopping go? Did you get what you wanted?"

With shaking hands you sip the coffee until your wife leaves the room. Crawling across the bed you lunge for your coat left folded over a chair, fumbling in the pockets you can't find what you're looking for. The diamond, emerald and tear drop pearl brooch you had bought for your wife's Christmas present, with a sense of wonder you check your wallet, there is two pounds and 2 shillings left along with your introduction cards and your club membership card and a tiny greetings card with a hand written message. "Thank you so kindly for the brooch, I believe it is no coincidence since I do admire emeralds so! Yours Skittles." Note 13. With a sigh of resignation and relief you slide breathlessly back into bed. The wee little strumpet had obviously taken the brooch as a gift in kind, and indeed thought it had been bought specifically for her. Indeed she then had been good enough to see you safely home with a discrete excuse about falling asleep at the club. Damn your eyes, she must have thought you worth it even if you didn't remember a thing! You sip the coffee eagerly. There was a Christmas present to be replaced, now where had you seen that emerald ring with matching bracelet?


Notes.

Note 1 ..... The famous assembly rooms of Holborn were closed in 1872 they saved once by the good Lord Chamberlain from puritanic powers who had decided dancing at the Alhambra was a thing not to be allowed so he gave a royal licence instead. Its doom was secured by a spinster who lived on the kings road complaining about the noise of the midnight cabs rattling up and down the road and a young lady who asked an old gentleman who happened to be a magistrate visiting London from Middlesex. He was so shocked by being asked for lemonade from a young woman who was not know to him he cried out for prohibition!Back

Note 2 ..... York Club Cutlets. Thick lamb Cutlets with a peppery sauce popular in London Clubs.Back

Note 3 ..... 'The Haunch of Venison' was a famous haunt of abandoned women.Back

Note 4 ..... "The Yarmouth Bloater. A very Clean, Sober, and honest piece who understands her trade. Hangs out around Fleet Street. Back

Note 5 ..... The White Lion in Wych Street was described as no better than a brothel in a contemporary assessment.Back

Note 6 ..... The Twelve Bells was reputed to be one of the roughest pubs in the capital.Back

Note 7 ..... The Coal Hole, a famous Bohemian song-and-supper resort where a smart smutty song may occasionally be heard.Back

Note 8 ..... The Union in Bow Street; bawdy ballads and half-naked dancers were the order of the day.Back

Note 9 ..... The Progress of a woman of pleasure, sung in bars and cider cellars.Back

Note 10 ..... Number 36 Brompton Road was the residence of a popular courtesan famously persuaded by Primeminister Gladstone to give up her wicked ways.Back

Note 11 ..... Laura Bell resident of Wilton Crescent a reformed prostitute. In her early years she was presented with a gift of 250,000 by Prince Jung Bahadoor of Nepal. Later in life Laura organised prayer meetings and sought to help the local prostitutes.Back

Note 12 ..... The shopkeepers of Burlington Arcade made arrangements with street-walkers for accommodation, liberty was also guaranteed by arrangements with the beadles and doormen.

Back

Note 13 ..... Skittles. From the description and location, actually Chesterfield street near Park Lane, this could only be 'Catherine Walters' who was more commonly known as skittles. She was the 'last great Victorian Courtesan' rumoured to have leaders of political parties and a member of the Royal family amongst her 'friends'.

Back

 

Scale by Max
First published in the Flashman Society Journal Christmas 2000. To recive the jounral 'Dawns and Departures of a soldiers Life Vol IIII' Join the Flashman Society. Contact details

 

 

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