SIR. – I have been very much amused and occasionally just a little annoyed by the neat little gibes which “Roderick Random” so often makes at teetotalers. In the last copy which I had the pleasure of reading he said something (I haven’t EVERYMAN by me) about “before men grew teetotal and flabby.” Permit me, modestly and with cap in hand, to state my own case. I am one of a third generation of most bigoted teetotalers, and neither I nor my fathers are – or were – particularly flabby. We can boast fairly healthy carcases, tolerably clear minds, and maybe a seasoning of humour. In the realm of hard knocks we hold our own whether they be the playful little taps of circumstance or the more energetic blows given by fragments of high-explosive shell. I am just winding up ten days’ leave after twenty months’ active service, and have had the honour – scarcely a pleasure – of being in every stunt in that period with the exception of Vimy Ridge – and never condescended to indulge in a rum ration. I am not by any means the only total abstainer on active service. They are as plentiful as German whizzbangs and as hard as Army biscuits. I venture to assert that you will find more flabbiness of body and mind amongst topers than amongst abstainers.
Pardon scrawl and a hastily written letter. I am at rest camp waiting for the cross-Channel boat. In a few more hours I shall be wending my way to the battle-line and will face Fritz – without a rum ration.
A correspondent gently reproves . . .
“gibes” at teetotalers. I promise to r . . .
totalers will not gibe at us who occasionally . . . .
or, what is worse, try to prevent us . . .
am for toleration, and a man has a perfect r . . . .
be a teetotaler if he wants to be.
And that is all I am going to say on this mat . . . .
for talking about drink is a dry pastime. So af . . . .
these presents you will find in these notes no reference
to liquor until the teetotalers make some new effort . . . .