I used to love gin and tonic. I loved the smoky blue colour of the drink, the refreshing smell and the exquisite taste. I especially liked to have a gin and tonic in hand when travelling by plane which I used to do weekly on business trips to Ireland. Even writing this paragraph I can taste the drink in my mind, but thankfully that doesn’t encourage me to actually want one, I am well past any such temptation.
As gin was the only spirit I regularly drank I was aware how quickly it could affect me and induce a drowsy and laid-back state. I also knew I had to try and limit the amount I was consuming or else I would get drunk too quickly, but I found this too hard to do, and so always ended up plastered. Things got especially bad if I mixed gin with wine and other drinks over the course of the lunchtime or evening.
I think that gin being called ‘mother’s ruin’ and the Hogarth print perhaps induced my feelings of guilt back then. I know for a fact that whenever I saw this print I would only give it a cursory glance, probably because I was too guilt wracked to want to explore the message the print was sending out, that the imbibing of cheap spirits leads to madness, disease, wantonness and disaster. It is actually a horrible print to really study with children being abused or killed, people being force fed the spirit, people having gone blind, dying and all other sorts of horrors envisaged through gin.
Now that gin seems to back in fashion as ‘the’ drink. What do you see in this print, and would it make you feel guilty if you were viewing it with a g&t in hand?