Help the Spanish cause – don’t drink Port (1936)

spanishFound in a pamphlet called Spain and Us. (Holborn and West Central London Committee for Spanish Medical Aid, London 1936) this contribution by  Louis Golding suggesting a boycott of the drink Port. Quite early in the history of political boycotting of products. Other contributors to this rare booklet included J. B. Priestley, Rebecca West, Stephen Spender, Ethel Mannin, Francis Meynell,  T. F. Powys, J. Langdon-Davies, and Catherine Carswell.

Drink no port.

The aeroplanes are still entering Portugal for the assistance of the gallant Generals, Franco and Mola. So are the shells, the rifles. Perhaps the poison-gas bombs are on their way by now.

And Port is still leaving Portugal.

We must drink no Port.

I know that the Port we might deny ourselves tonight is not the Port which left Portugal a fortnight from now is not likely to be balanced on adept palates for another ten, twenty, fifty years. Ten years from now there may be no docks at Oporto for the disembarkation of its Port, nor docks on the Thames for its reception.

But we must drink no Port now, as we drink no Moslewein, no Rheinwein – for the time being. (Alas, alas, for the Bernkasteler Doktor we do not drink any more. Alas for the Port of 1886 from the Val de Mending that I pledge myself to repudiate at dinner next Wednesday night).

And when we are asked why the Port is lacking from our tables or why we pass it by as it circles the tables of our friends – then, then, we get up on our hind legs and roar!

We shall say – it is infamous! It is preposterous! Our refusal of Port is a mere symbol of what we can do and what we hereby vow to do. It is not that we are of those who sneer at Port, who think it a sticky syrup to soothe the stomachic linings of indurated colonels from Quetta. We think Port a deep, rich elixir. But it is infamous, say we, we say it is preposterous.

And they will ask – but what then is preposterous? Be for one moment coherent!

And we shall say – that Portugal dares to be absent from international neutrality conferences at which even Italy, even Germany, is present! We shall say it is abominable that Portuguese merchants bathe night and morning in baths of Spanish blood! We shall drink no more Port (we shall say) till Portugal has come to her senses.

And that is not all we shall do. 

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