Monday, 19 December 2011

Politicians and beer

When politicians are photographed drinking or pulling a pint, the motive is normally to appear "of the people" and attract votes. None of the charlatans above actually enjoy drinking beer as far as I know: Blair as PM drank whisky, Johnson as an ex-member of the Bullingdon Club is surely a champagne drinker and Livingstone in an interview last year admitted that his enthusiasm has shifted over the years from Newcastle Brown Ale to wine.

With the ex-Czech president Václav Havel who died yesterday, it was surely different.  While he doubtless benefitted from a beer drinking image given the Czech Republic has the world's highest per capita beer consumption, like politicians across the border in Bavaria I'd guess he actually liked the stuff too. 

The right-wing Labour chancellor of the 70's Denis Healey once criticised Margaret Thatcher for having no hinterland, that is interests outside politics (his were opera and photography).  Václav Havel's hinterland was pretty extensive, encompassing beer, politics, drama and poetry.  One of the most famous photos of him was taken in 1994 by Jiri Juru in the Prague pub U Zlatého Tygra, alongside the US President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and fellow writer and regular Bohumil Hrabal.

h/t to White Beer Travels for reproducing the photo.


  1. I'd say "much better writer and more genuine beer drinker Bohumil Hrabal"

    Havel is the man who saw being given a job in a brewery as a punishment.

  2. I'm sure you're right Ron. Although wasn't it the lowly position of labourer that Havel as someone from a rich background saw as a punishment rather than working in a brewery as such?

  3. Something like that. I wouldn't have seen it that way.