My Virtuous Sibling – a Guest Post

Hard as I try to persuade him, The Archaeologist will not start his own blog. Until that happy day when all the emojis of the world will line up and sing ‘The Sun has got his hat on’ we will make do with a guest post. I give you, the Archaeologist..

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The Archaeologist Writes – Virtues and Vices

My brother, in his introduction to the guest post he was kind enough to publish (here), gave an example of the way I thought, one topic running off another. And reading his piece on vices, led me to think about health drinks, and how the first were developed.

The first began with a dreadful medical problem, scurvy.

Scurvy is a terrible condition caused by lack of vitamin C, it leads to open sores, teeth falling out, bone loss and death. It particularly affected sailors as the methods available for food preservation destroyed vitamin C. The problem was finally solved by Captain Cook, who discovered the first preserved food that could treat it (and incidentally used class prejudice to make it work – but that’s another story)

A few years later, the doctor on board H.M.S. Pandora, the ship that went to hunt for the Bounty mutineers, discovered that lemon or lime juice was the most effective preventative. Orders were then made that British sailors would be issued with a ration of lime juice to keep them healthy, first in the navy, then on merchantmen. American sailors laughed at the sailors who were made to drink lime juice, calling them ‘limeys’ (as a result few foreign sailors wanted to serve on American ships, they knew that they were likely to die on long voyages).

Lime juice is very tart, and to make it more palatable British sailors mixed it with the other drink they were issued, diluted rum (called grog after a waterproof cloth – but that’s another story), then added a little sugar. And so the first cocktail – a daiquiri had been invented.


If you no longer needed to fear scurvy on long voyages, you were still likely to suffer from sea sickness and indigestion caused by the monotonous diet. A preparation of gentian was known to treat these problems, but it was very bitter, hence its nickname ‘Bitters’. Naval personnel mixed it with gin to make it drinkable. The red colour of the bitters coloured the gin, Pink Gin had been invented.


Now it was possible to sail safely to all corners of the globe, but to live there the problems of disease had to be overcome. Quinine had been known for centuries, as a brilliant treatment for malaria and other fevers, so residents in tropical climates were advised to take a daily dose of the stuff. A tincture was dissolved in water to make a drink, but this ‘Tonic Water’ was still horribly bitter. This too was mixed with gin to make it palatable, and the third of the great health drinks – Gin and Tonic was invented.


And so, protected by the health giving properties of Daiquiris, Pink Gin and Gin and Tonic the British were able to rule half the world. Naturally of course, other people, not recognising the value of these drinks began to promote nonalcoholic beverages as alternatives. The results were disastrous, it was problems with the supply of tea that led to the death of Gordon at Khartoum, and hence the war in the Sudan, and incidentally to one of the great catch phrases of British TV during the 1970’s – but that, as I have said before, is another story.




About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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15 Responses to My Virtuous Sibling – a Guest Post

  1. willowdot21 says:

    HIC I’ll drink to that! But that’s another story! 🙂 getta blog sir we will read it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant. I knew most of these facts but never thought much more about them — it’s fascinating. The Americans always get our good stuff from the British. TV shows, gin & tonic, The Beatles… Aside from your great voice and ability to mix history together with storytelling, you should have a drink named after you. Or, you know, a blog.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Daiquiris had to be a signing bonus for sailors! You are such a wealth of information, and I’m glad you were prompted by vices. 🙂 Get a blog and I’ll toast you with an Idaho citra-ale!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Norah says:

    Add my voice to the others requesting a blog of your own. Dare I say, “I’ll drink to that!”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Autism Mom says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable! I will keep to myself my opinion on your writing a blog of your own – choosing to blog is a deeply personal decision, fraught with consequences like making friends online from all over the world, and risking life-long addiction to writing pieces that people enjoy. Think it over carefully, sir! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Oh don’t encourage him Elizabeth. He loves the sound of his own voice and knows so many ridiculous and ridiculously interesting things that he’s a blogging natural. He’s just playing hard to get!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Autism Mom says:

        Shhhhh, it’s called “reverse psychology” – it works on my 10-year old… 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      • TanGental says:

        You’ve not met the Archaeologist; I guarantee he’s completely on the Navigator’s wavelength re dinosaurs. He corrected a TV programme about the Crystal Palace ones aged 8 – won a badge. And he lives a few miles from our Jurassic coast in Dorset where the Victorian dinosaur hunters came to collect the bones as they fell out of the cliffs.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. lucciagray says:

    Amazing information and useful if you write historical novels!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. roweeee says:

    A fabulous post. I might just have to sample all those drinks to recreate the historic experience. If the archaelogist doesn’t star t a blog soon, tell him to go and get a real job such as rebuilding a certain pond and he’ll be blogging in no time. By the way, speaking of ponds, thanks to the storm, we now have one in the pot I relocated from Palm Beach. The trouble is that it wasn’t in the designated spot yet and has no plants or fish in their yet so will probably just start breeding those most notorious Australians of them all…the mozzie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      He’s stubborn like all the males in my family (not me of course). But we keep working at it. And sorry about the weather. We had rain yesterday, I was absolutely soaked and so pleased because it’s been at least 6 weeks without any to speak of (don’t believe what you hear about the UK – yes it is grey and at times damp but rain? We have less, at least on the east, than Somalia)

      Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        The mules, I mean males, in my family are a stubborn bunch too. Hate any form of advice or criticism too…this doesn’t include Geoff…although he has his points as well but has had to be pretty adaptable.
        Didn’t realise lack of rain was an issue there. Know what those national stereotypes are like what with perceptions of kangaroos hopping down Geoff Street. The rain is doing a good job and watering the garden and making me look like a somewhat attentive gardener. Did you notice the reference to the floral clock on my zoo post? THought you might be interested in the link xx Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        I did and the photo too. I don’t remember it when we went but love the idea it has been tick-tocking for so long


  8. Sherri says:

    What a wonderful guest post, such a pleasure to meet you Mr Archaeologist! It’s rather sobering (pun unintended) to think that we British ruled half the world aided by copious amounts of Gin. And I do enjoy a G&T, I admit. I am wracking my brain over that catch phrase…and I know I’ll kick myself when you remind me…please!!

    Liked by 1 person

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