FOOD AND BOOZE IN PARLIAMENT


A report on the cost of food for each sitting of Parliament, being $700,000, has triggered a particularly sharp debate about the cost and the alleged supply of alcohol. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, confessed that he consumes the food. He said: “I eat the food. What do you suggest? I don’t eat the food? I eat the food…I like eating too. And it’s not like it’s fancy food. It’s not fancy food…” The problem the teetotaler Mr. Jagdeo said, confirming the traditionally austere leadership of the PPP, was the alcohol. “It’s not just the food. It’s the huge amount of alcohol that gets consumed and imbibed in Parliament…fancy, fancy, liquor.” Mr. Jagdeo noted that Opposition members would hardly ever, if at all, utilize alcohol provided by Parliament Office. “They do eat. We eat. I eat the food,” he emphasized, “..but it’s the alcohol part that I have a problem with.” But the politics intruded. Mr. Jagdeo suggested that it was some Government members who excessively imbibed during sittings. After suggesting that the cost of the alcohol might be as much as the cost of food, he recommended that members purchase their own alcohol.

If the Leader of the Opposition was concerned that MPs would be drunk on their feet or otherwise in Parliament, he should not worry. The public, viewing debates, would assume that MPs are drunk anyway – Government Members, with power, and Opposition Members, seeking it.

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THE STORY OF THE LONG LOST SWIZZLE


(Kamal Ramkarran is the author of the original and longer version of this 2009 article, which has been abridged and amended by me with his permission).

The swizzle is Guyana’s long lost, but once favourite, alcoholic beverage. Even though it was synonymous with Demerara and had enjoyed worldwide fame, it is now almost unknown in the country which gave it birth. In the 1800s and up to the mid 1900s, the drinking of swizzles was an established custom, even passion, among Demerara’s upper strata. It became the preferred cocktail of the day, long before the combination of rum and coke was ever discovered.

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