Wick Communications

Every day or everyday?

In Writing on February 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

They say you should write what you know, that the passion you have for your subject will come shining through your prose.

By that measure, Kingsley Amis’ “Everyday Drinking” would be one of the best books ever written.

I absolutely love Amis (who is not to be confused with his equally talented son, Martin Amis.) His novel “Lucky Jim” is among my all-time favorites. He was a visiting lecturer at Cambridge and Princeton and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, he spent his final years living in the home of his first wife and her third husband. Which would likely lead anyone to drink.

Here’s why I bring him up: The book I bought the other day is clearly titled, “Everyday Drinking.” But originally, it was called, “Every Day Drinking.” And thus the book falls victim to one of my pet peeves.

“Everyday Drinking” suggests that the tome will provide help with your “everyday” drinking needs, tips and such for everyday alcohol use. (By the way, I’m not suggesting that is a good idea. Amis died a very unhappy sloppy drunk.) …

“Every Day Drinking” means that the author has been drinking every day. Which, in this case, is true.

I find everyday/every day misuse, well, every day. It is an everyday occurrence, and it drives me nuts.

As a treat, here is Amis, describing a repulsive-sounding drink called “Paul Fussell’s Milk Punch.”

1 part brandy

1 part bourbon whiskey

4 parts fresh milk

nutmeg

frozen milk cubes

The previous evening (this is the hardest part) put milk instead of water into enough ice-trays in your refrigerator. On the day, mix the fresh milk and the spirits thoroughly together – in an electric blender, the deviser of the recipe says, and by all means do that if there is one lying about and not wanted by someone else and clean and with no bits missing and in working order. For me, stirring in a jug will do just as well. Pour into biggish glasses, drop in milk cubes, dust with nutmeg and serve.

This punch is to be drunk immediately on rising, in lieu of eating breakfast. It is an excellent heartener and sustainer at the outset of a hard day: not only before an air trip or an interview, but when you have in prospect one of those grueling nominal festivities like Christmas morning, the wedding of an old friend of your wife’s or taking the family over to Gran’s for Sunday dinner.

Note: Do not, of course, use an expensive bourbon or a brandy that is anything more than just French. And taste each bottle of milk before pouring it in. There is a risk that sour-milk punch would not be as good.

As I say, write about what you love … every day.

Clay

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  1. lots of good stories about kingsley amis in christopher hitchens’ memoir.

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