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Episode
37

London’s Gin Craze // Mother’s Ruin

First published on
March 20, 2020
History
-
15
minutes
Pandemic
The Victorian Era
Food & drink

300 years ago, London experienced a gin craze of epic scale, with the average Londoner drinking 10 times the amount of gin that the world's biggest gin drinking country does now.

Today, it's time to learn about how gin almost destroyed London.

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Download transcript & key vocabulary pdf
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Transcript

[00:00:04] Hello hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, where you can improve your English while learning fascinating things about the world. 

[00:00:17] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:00:19] I hadn't mentioned anything about the Corona virus so far as, well, you listen to this podcast to improve your English, not to get any kind of medical advice or commentary that I am in no way qualified to give.

[00:00:34] So I'm not going to start today, other than to say that I hope you are keeping safe in these turbulent times. 

[00:00:42] Here at the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast we are going to carry on as usual, as much as is possible, bringing you weird and wonderful stories and helping you improve your English at the same time.

[00:00:57] The subject of today's podcast is gin. 

[00:01:01] But before we get right into it, let me just remind those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts iVoox or wherever you get your podcasts, that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for this podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:23] The transcript comes in PDF format for you to download. 

[00:01:27] It's there on the website too, but it also now comes in animating format. 

[00:01:33] So this is a bit like subtitles, but actually way cooler because you can tap on a word and your browser should give you the definition of that word.

[00:01:43] And the key vocabulary is really useful because less common words are explained, you don't have to stop to look things up in a dictionary, and it means that you can build up your vocabulary at the same time as improving your English. 

[00:02:00] So go and check that out. 

[00:02:02] That's at Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:02:05] Okay, then. 

[00:02:06] Today let's talk about gin.

[00:02:10] You may now think of it as an ingredient in a fancy cocktail, enjoyed with tonic and fresh lime. 

[00:02:19] But not so long ago London experienced a gin craze of epic scale. 

[00:02:29] It has been called London's gin epidemic, and actually that was the original title for this podcast. 

[00:02:38] But in light of recent events, it obviously wouldn't be appropriate to talk about it as an epidemic, so I'll try to avoid using that word.

[00:02:50] However, it was deemed pretty serious at the time, it was considered a big, big problem. 

[00:02:56] To give you an idea of quite how much gin Londoners were drinking, the average Londoner, and bear in mind that this includes people who didn't drink gin at all, so small children for example, the average Londoner was drinking 10 litres of gin per year.

[00:03:20] To put that in context, now, the average amount of gin drunk per year is half a litre by Londoners. 

[00:03:29] And the biggest gin drinkers in the world, the Spanish, drink one litre. 

[00:03:36] So even now, the biggest gin drinkers in the world only drink 1/10th of what Londoners were drinking 250 years ago.

[00:03:46] So let's find out exactly how this happened and how gin got to this position where Londoners were drinking it like it was water. 

[00:03:59] Gin, as you may know, is a spirit, an alcohol, flavoured with juniper berries. 

[00:04:08] It has been around since the middle ages and arrived in Britain in the 17th century after a Dutch liquor called Genever was introduced. 

[00:04:20] One historian suggested that the reason that 'gin' is called 'gin' was because the British were too drunk to pronounce Genever and they just shortened it to gin. 

[00:04:38] Anyway, I'll let you be the judge of that. 

[00:04:41] Perhaps if you have spent many Friday evenings in British towns, then that might sound like a reasonable explanation. 

[00:04:50] At the time that gin was introduced, most people would drink beer or brandy, and there really wasn't interest in this new arrival, this new gin. 

[00:05:04] But there were three events that caused the fate of gin to change and caused it to jump in popularity. 

[00:05:13] Firstly, large taxes on brandy

[00:05:18] Brandy was normally imported from France, and as you may know, Britain was at war with France for extended periods during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. 

[00:05:33] As a way of punishing the French, King William raised taxes on imported French brandy, making it much more expensive. 

[00:05:44] And from a patriotic point of view, people didn't want to drink something made by a Frenchman. 

[00:05:51] We were at war with them, and it would be very un-English to drink a French drink. 

[00:05:58] So brandy became expensive and unfashionable.

[00:06:04] Secondly, to try to encourage domestic production of spirits, and to reduce reliance on the French, the British government allowed unlicensed production of gin, meaning that practically anyone could do it. 

[00:06:23] The result was a boom, a huge increase in the number of people producing gin.

[00:06:31] And the third factor was a reduction, a lowering of the price of food, meaning that even the poor now had some extra money in their pockets. 

[00:06:45] These three factors: the increased taxes on brandy, the relaxing of legislation around production and the increased amount of disposable income created the perfect storm for a huge boom in gin consumption.

[00:07:04] And that is exactly what happened. 

[00:07:08] By 1730 it's estimated that there were 7,000 gin shops, which made up half of the drinking establishments of London. 

[00:07:21] And these were just the legal ones. 

[00:07:24] There must have been thousands more illegal gin shops. 

[00:07:28] And when I say gin shop, if you are thinking of a fancy gin bar with people sitting there sipping lovely cocktails, you'd be very much mistaken.

[00:07:42] They were literally just shops, places where you would go and buy a glass of gin, quite often it would be warm, you would drink it quickly, and presumably you would emerge completely drunk a matter of minutes later. 

[00:08:00] The gin itself was pretty horrible stuff, fiendishly strong, very, very strong, and full of horrible things like sulphuric acid and turpentine, the kind of thing you use for cleaning paint brushes.

[00:08:19] Not only was it obviously disgusting to taste, to drink, it was incredibly bad for you.

[00:08:28] It made men impotent and made women's sterile, so it made both sexes unable to have children, and it's thought that this was a major reason why the birth rate in London at this time was exceeded by the death rate.

[00:08:47] It also drove people mad, as we'll talk about in a bit. 

[00:08:53] But this didn't stop Londoners from drinking it and it didn't stop the shops from selling it. 

[00:09:02] The gin shops sold vast amounts of the stuff, vast amounts of gin, huge amounts, selling almost 50 million litres of gin per year. 

[00:09:13] The signs above the shops, reportedly, said 'drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two pennies, clean straw for nothing'.

[00:09:27] So just to go over that again, it's that you'll be drunk for one penny, which is approximately 50p in today's money, under $1. 

[00:09:39] Dead drunk, very drunk for two pennies, so one pound or a dollar and a half. 

[00:09:47] Then clean straw for nothing means that you'll be so drunk, you'll just pass out, you'll fall asleep onto a straw bed, and you won't have to pay for a bed. 

[00:09:59] Remember, life in the 18th century for the majority of people in London was pretty terrible. 

[00:10:07] It was cold, wet, and working days were long, dangerous, and monotonous and boring. 

[00:10:17] Gin was something that was very cheap, it warmed you up, and I guess it helped you forget your situation.

[00:10:25] People have drawn parallels, they've made comparisons with the crack epidemic, the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s in the US. 

[00:10:39] Gin was nicknamed 'mother's ruin' because of the rate at which it ruined, it destroyed women's lives. 

[00:10:49] The impurities in the gin, the bad things that were going into the gin, plus the rate at which people were drinking it, it drove people mad. 

[00:10:59] They became a hopelessly addicted to the stuff. 

[00:11:05] One particularly sad story was of a woman named Judith Defour, and her two year old daughter, Mary. 

[00:11:16] Apparently she had such a terrible gin addiction that she was literally driven mad. 

[00:11:25] She went with her daughter and a friend into a field.

[00:11:29] They removed the daughter's clothes and they strangled the daughter, they killed the daughter, and left her there dead. 

[00:11:38] And they went to sell the clothes to buy gin. 

[00:11:43] This woman had literally killed her baby for a drink of gin. 

[00:11:49] This was a little bit of a wake-up call for Britain, that this gin was causing people to do such horrible and desperate things, and the government finally decided to do something about it.

[00:12:04] In 1751 the government passed something called The Gin Act, which raised taxes and made it harder to get a licence. 

[00:12:14] Alongside this, they promoted drinking beer and tea, and by 1830, nearly 100 years after the death of poor little Mary Defour, beer finally became cheaper than gin again. 

[00:12:30] So the gin craze was finally over. 

[00:12:35] London's gin consumption returned to normal, although I'm sure that if you were to go to a bar on a normal Friday night in central London, you might not agree with the statement that Londoners' gin consumption is 'normal'. 

[00:12:52] In any case, it's a lot less than 10 litres per year. 

[00:12:56] And at least people don't seem to be going mad at quite the levels that they were doing 300 years ago. 

[00:13:04] Gin, today, as you may know, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence, it's getting popular again, with consumption worldwide growing 13% per year from 2013 to 2018.

[00:13:21] Now though, it's certainly in the premium category. 

[00:13:26] I think if you went to a fancy bar and asked for a cup of warm gin for a penny, they might be slightly surprised.

[00:13:37] Okay then, I hope that this has been an interesting journey into the time of London's gin craze

[00:13:45] It's fascinating to think that this really wasn't that long ago and that it had such a strong grip on so many people. 

[00:13:57] As usual, if you are looking for the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can get that on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:14:07] The transcript is available in new animating form, so that's a bit like subtitles, but even better. 

[00:14:14] So go and check that out. 

[00:14:16] That's at Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:14:19] And final point - I always like to hear what you think of the podcast. 

[00:14:23] So if you have thoughts, feedback, questions, or anything you want to say, then please do get in touch. 

[00:14:31] You can email us at hi - 'hi' @leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:14:35] I'd love to hear from you. 

[00:14:38] I'm Alastair Budge and you've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English.

[00:14:45] Stay safe and I'll catch you in the next episode.



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[00:00:04] Hello hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, where you can improve your English while learning fascinating things about the world. 

[00:00:17] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:00:19] I hadn't mentioned anything about the Corona virus so far as, well, you listen to this podcast to improve your English, not to get any kind of medical advice or commentary that I am in no way qualified to give.

[00:00:34] So I'm not going to start today, other than to say that I hope you are keeping safe in these turbulent times. 

[00:00:42] Here at the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast we are going to carry on as usual, as much as is possible, bringing you weird and wonderful stories and helping you improve your English at the same time.

[00:00:57] The subject of today's podcast is gin. 

[00:01:01] But before we get right into it, let me just remind those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts iVoox or wherever you get your podcasts, that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for this podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:23] The transcript comes in PDF format for you to download. 

[00:01:27] It's there on the website too, but it also now comes in animating format. 

[00:01:33] So this is a bit like subtitles, but actually way cooler because you can tap on a word and your browser should give you the definition of that word.

[00:01:43] And the key vocabulary is really useful because less common words are explained, you don't have to stop to look things up in a dictionary, and it means that you can build up your vocabulary at the same time as improving your English. 

[00:02:00] So go and check that out. 

[00:02:02] That's at Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:02:05] Okay, then. 

[00:02:06] Today let's talk about gin.

[00:02:10] You may now think of it as an ingredient in a fancy cocktail, enjoyed with tonic and fresh lime. 

[00:02:19] But not so long ago London experienced a gin craze of epic scale. 

[00:02:29] It has been called London's gin epidemic, and actually that was the original title for this podcast. 

[00:02:38] But in light of recent events, it obviously wouldn't be appropriate to talk about it as an epidemic, so I'll try to avoid using that word.

[00:02:50] However, it was deemed pretty serious at the time, it was considered a big, big problem. 

[00:02:56] To give you an idea of quite how much gin Londoners were drinking, the average Londoner, and bear in mind that this includes people who didn't drink gin at all, so small children for example, the average Londoner was drinking 10 litres of gin per year.

[00:03:20] To put that in context, now, the average amount of gin drunk per year is half a litre by Londoners. 

[00:03:29] And the biggest gin drinkers in the world, the Spanish, drink one litre. 

[00:03:36] So even now, the biggest gin drinkers in the world only drink 1/10th of what Londoners were drinking 250 years ago.

[00:03:46] So let's find out exactly how this happened and how gin got to this position where Londoners were drinking it like it was water. 

[00:03:59] Gin, as you may know, is a spirit, an alcohol, flavoured with juniper berries. 

[00:04:08] It has been around since the middle ages and arrived in Britain in the 17th century after a Dutch liquor called Genever was introduced. 

[00:04:20] One historian suggested that the reason that 'gin' is called 'gin' was because the British were too drunk to pronounce Genever and they just shortened it to gin. 

[00:04:38] Anyway, I'll let you be the judge of that. 

[00:04:41] Perhaps if you have spent many Friday evenings in British towns, then that might sound like a reasonable explanation. 

[00:04:50] At the time that gin was introduced, most people would drink beer or brandy, and there really wasn't interest in this new arrival, this new gin. 

[00:05:04] But there were three events that caused the fate of gin to change and caused it to jump in popularity. 

[00:05:13] Firstly, large taxes on brandy

[00:05:18] Brandy was normally imported from France, and as you may know, Britain was at war with France for extended periods during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. 

[00:05:33] As a way of punishing the French, King William raised taxes on imported French brandy, making it much more expensive. 

[00:05:44] And from a patriotic point of view, people didn't want to drink something made by a Frenchman. 

[00:05:51] We were at war with them, and it would be very un-English to drink a French drink. 

[00:05:58] So brandy became expensive and unfashionable.

[00:06:04] Secondly, to try to encourage domestic production of spirits, and to reduce reliance on the French, the British government allowed unlicensed production of gin, meaning that practically anyone could do it. 

[00:06:23] The result was a boom, a huge increase in the number of people producing gin.

[00:06:31] And the third factor was a reduction, a lowering of the price of food, meaning that even the poor now had some extra money in their pockets. 

[00:06:45] These three factors: the increased taxes on brandy, the relaxing of legislation around production and the increased amount of disposable income created the perfect storm for a huge boom in gin consumption.

[00:07:04] And that is exactly what happened. 

[00:07:08] By 1730 it's estimated that there were 7,000 gin shops, which made up half of the drinking establishments of London. 

[00:07:21] And these were just the legal ones. 

[00:07:24] There must have been thousands more illegal gin shops. 

[00:07:28] And when I say gin shop, if you are thinking of a fancy gin bar with people sitting there sipping lovely cocktails, you'd be very much mistaken.

[00:07:42] They were literally just shops, places where you would go and buy a glass of gin, quite often it would be warm, you would drink it quickly, and presumably you would emerge completely drunk a matter of minutes later. 

[00:08:00] The gin itself was pretty horrible stuff, fiendishly strong, very, very strong, and full of horrible things like sulphuric acid and turpentine, the kind of thing you use for cleaning paint brushes.

[00:08:19] Not only was it obviously disgusting to taste, to drink, it was incredibly bad for you.

[00:08:28] It made men impotent and made women's sterile, so it made both sexes unable to have children, and it's thought that this was a major reason why the birth rate in London at this time was exceeded by the death rate.

[00:08:47] It also drove people mad, as we'll talk about in a bit. 

[00:08:53] But this didn't stop Londoners from drinking it and it didn't stop the shops from selling it. 

[00:09:02] The gin shops sold vast amounts of the stuff, vast amounts of gin, huge amounts, selling almost 50 million litres of gin per year. 

[00:09:13] The signs above the shops, reportedly, said 'drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two pennies, clean straw for nothing'.

[00:09:27] So just to go over that again, it's that you'll be drunk for one penny, which is approximately 50p in today's money, under $1. 

[00:09:39] Dead drunk, very drunk for two pennies, so one pound or a dollar and a half. 

[00:09:47] Then clean straw for nothing means that you'll be so drunk, you'll just pass out, you'll fall asleep onto a straw bed, and you won't have to pay for a bed. 

[00:09:59] Remember, life in the 18th century for the majority of people in London was pretty terrible. 

[00:10:07] It was cold, wet, and working days were long, dangerous, and monotonous and boring. 

[00:10:17] Gin was something that was very cheap, it warmed you up, and I guess it helped you forget your situation.

[00:10:25] People have drawn parallels, they've made comparisons with the crack epidemic, the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s in the US. 

[00:10:39] Gin was nicknamed 'mother's ruin' because of the rate at which it ruined, it destroyed women's lives. 

[00:10:49] The impurities in the gin, the bad things that were going into the gin, plus the rate at which people were drinking it, it drove people mad. 

[00:10:59] They became a hopelessly addicted to the stuff. 

[00:11:05] One particularly sad story was of a woman named Judith Defour, and her two year old daughter, Mary. 

[00:11:16] Apparently she had such a terrible gin addiction that she was literally driven mad. 

[00:11:25] She went with her daughter and a friend into a field.

[00:11:29] They removed the daughter's clothes and they strangled the daughter, they killed the daughter, and left her there dead. 

[00:11:38] And they went to sell the clothes to buy gin. 

[00:11:43] This woman had literally killed her baby for a drink of gin. 

[00:11:49] This was a little bit of a wake-up call for Britain, that this gin was causing people to do such horrible and desperate things, and the government finally decided to do something about it.

[00:12:04] In 1751 the government passed something called The Gin Act, which raised taxes and made it harder to get a licence. 

[00:12:14] Alongside this, they promoted drinking beer and tea, and by 1830, nearly 100 years after the death of poor little Mary Defour, beer finally became cheaper than gin again. 

[00:12:30] So the gin craze was finally over. 

[00:12:35] London's gin consumption returned to normal, although I'm sure that if you were to go to a bar on a normal Friday night in central London, you might not agree with the statement that Londoners' gin consumption is 'normal'. 

[00:12:52] In any case, it's a lot less than 10 litres per year. 

[00:12:56] And at least people don't seem to be going mad at quite the levels that they were doing 300 years ago. 

[00:13:04] Gin, today, as you may know, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence, it's getting popular again, with consumption worldwide growing 13% per year from 2013 to 2018.

[00:13:21] Now though, it's certainly in the premium category. 

[00:13:26] I think if you went to a fancy bar and asked for a cup of warm gin for a penny, they might be slightly surprised.

[00:13:37] Okay then, I hope that this has been an interesting journey into the time of London's gin craze

[00:13:45] It's fascinating to think that this really wasn't that long ago and that it had such a strong grip on so many people. 

[00:13:57] As usual, if you are looking for the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can get that on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:14:07] The transcript is available in new animating form, so that's a bit like subtitles, but even better. 

[00:14:14] So go and check that out. 

[00:14:16] That's at Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:14:19] And final point - I always like to hear what you think of the podcast. 

[00:14:23] So if you have thoughts, feedback, questions, or anything you want to say, then please do get in touch. 

[00:14:31] You can email us at hi - 'hi' @leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:14:35] I'd love to hear from you. 

[00:14:38] I'm Alastair Budge and you've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English.

[00:14:45] Stay safe and I'll catch you in the next episode.



[00:00:04] Hello hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, where you can improve your English while learning fascinating things about the world. 

[00:00:17] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:00:19] I hadn't mentioned anything about the Corona virus so far as, well, you listen to this podcast to improve your English, not to get any kind of medical advice or commentary that I am in no way qualified to give.

[00:00:34] So I'm not going to start today, other than to say that I hope you are keeping safe in these turbulent times. 

[00:00:42] Here at the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast we are going to carry on as usual, as much as is possible, bringing you weird and wonderful stories and helping you improve your English at the same time.

[00:00:57] The subject of today's podcast is gin. 

[00:01:01] But before we get right into it, let me just remind those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts iVoox or wherever you get your podcasts, that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for this podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:23] The transcript comes in PDF format for you to download. 

[00:01:27] It's there on the website too, but it also now comes in animating format. 

[00:01:33] So this is a bit like subtitles, but actually way cooler because you can tap on a word and your browser should give you the definition of that word.

[00:01:43] And the key vocabulary is really useful because less common words are explained, you don't have to stop to look things up in a dictionary, and it means that you can build up your vocabulary at the same time as improving your English. 

[00:02:00] So go and check that out. 

[00:02:02] That's at Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:02:05] Okay, then. 

[00:02:06] Today let's talk about gin.

[00:02:10] You may now think of it as an ingredient in a fancy cocktail, enjoyed with tonic and fresh lime. 

[00:02:19] But not so long ago London experienced a gin craze of epic scale. 

[00:02:29] It has been called London's gin epidemic, and actually that was the original title for this podcast. 

[00:02:38] But in light of recent events, it obviously wouldn't be appropriate to talk about it as an epidemic, so I'll try to avoid using that word.

[00:02:50] However, it was deemed pretty serious at the time, it was considered a big, big problem. 

[00:02:56] To give you an idea of quite how much gin Londoners were drinking, the average Londoner, and bear in mind that this includes people who didn't drink gin at all, so small children for example, the average Londoner was drinking 10 litres of gin per year.

[00:03:20] To put that in context, now, the average amount of gin drunk per year is half a litre by Londoners. 

[00:03:29] And the biggest gin drinkers in the world, the Spanish, drink one litre. 

[00:03:36] So even now, the biggest gin drinkers in the world only drink 1/10th of what Londoners were drinking 250 years ago.

[00:03:46] So let's find out exactly how this happened and how gin got to this position where Londoners were drinking it like it was water. 

[00:03:59] Gin, as you may know, is a spirit, an alcohol, flavoured with juniper berries. 

[00:04:08] It has been around since the middle ages and arrived in Britain in the 17th century after a Dutch liquor called Genever was introduced. 

[00:04:20] One historian suggested that the reason that 'gin' is called 'gin' was because the British were too drunk to pronounce Genever and they just shortened it to gin. 

[00:04:38] Anyway, I'll let you be the judge of that. 

[00:04:41] Perhaps if you have spent many Friday evenings in British towns, then that might sound like a reasonable explanation. 

[00:04:50] At the time that gin was introduced, most people would drink beer or brandy, and there really wasn't interest in this new arrival, this new gin. 

[00:05:04] But there were three events that caused the fate of gin to change and caused it to jump in popularity. 

[00:05:13] Firstly, large taxes on brandy

[00:05:18] Brandy was normally imported from France, and as you may know, Britain was at war with France for extended periods during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. 

[00:05:33] As a way of punishing the French, King William raised taxes on imported French brandy, making it much more expensive. 

[00:05:44] And from a patriotic point of view, people didn't want to drink something made by a Frenchman. 

[00:05:51] We were at war with them, and it would be very un-English to drink a French drink. 

[00:05:58] So brandy became expensive and unfashionable.

[00:06:04] Secondly, to try to encourage domestic production of spirits, and to reduce reliance on the French, the British government allowed unlicensed production of gin, meaning that practically anyone could do it. 

[00:06:23] The result was a boom, a huge increase in the number of people producing gin.

[00:06:31] And the third factor was a reduction, a lowering of the price of food, meaning that even the poor now had some extra money in their pockets. 

[00:06:45] These three factors: the increased taxes on brandy, the relaxing of legislation around production and the increased amount of disposable income created the perfect storm for a huge boom in gin consumption.

[00:07:04] And that is exactly what happened. 

[00:07:08] By 1730 it's estimated that there were 7,000 gin shops, which made up half of the drinking establishments of London. 

[00:07:21] And these were just the legal ones. 

[00:07:24] There must have been thousands more illegal gin shops. 

[00:07:28] And when I say gin shop, if you are thinking of a fancy gin bar with people sitting there sipping lovely cocktails, you'd be very much mistaken.

[00:07:42] They were literally just shops, places where you would go and buy a glass of gin, quite often it would be warm, you would drink it quickly, and presumably you would emerge completely drunk a matter of minutes later. 

[00:08:00] The gin itself was pretty horrible stuff, fiendishly strong, very, very strong, and full of horrible things like sulphuric acid and turpentine, the kind of thing you use for cleaning paint brushes.

[00:08:19] Not only was it obviously disgusting to taste, to drink, it was incredibly bad for you.

[00:08:28] It made men impotent and made women's sterile, so it made both sexes unable to have children, and it's thought that this was a major reason why the birth rate in London at this time was exceeded by the death rate.

[00:08:47] It also drove people mad, as we'll talk about in a bit. 

[00:08:53] But this didn't stop Londoners from drinking it and it didn't stop the shops from selling it. 

[00:09:02] The gin shops sold vast amounts of the stuff, vast amounts of gin, huge amounts, selling almost 50 million litres of gin per year. 

[00:09:13] The signs above the shops, reportedly, said 'drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two pennies, clean straw for nothing'.

[00:09:27] So just to go over that again, it's that you'll be drunk for one penny, which is approximately 50p in today's money, under $1. 

[00:09:39] Dead drunk, very drunk for two pennies, so one pound or a dollar and a half. 

[00:09:47] Then clean straw for nothing means that you'll be so drunk, you'll just pass out, you'll fall asleep onto a straw bed, and you won't have to pay for a bed. 

[00:09:59] Remember, life in the 18th century for the majority of people in London was pretty terrible. 

[00:10:07] It was cold, wet, and working days were long, dangerous, and monotonous and boring. 

[00:10:17] Gin was something that was very cheap, it warmed you up, and I guess it helped you forget your situation.

[00:10:25] People have drawn parallels, they've made comparisons with the crack epidemic, the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s in the US. 

[00:10:39] Gin was nicknamed 'mother's ruin' because of the rate at which it ruined, it destroyed women's lives. 

[00:10:49] The impurities in the gin, the bad things that were going into the gin, plus the rate at which people were drinking it, it drove people mad. 

[00:10:59] They became a hopelessly addicted to the stuff. 

[00:11:05] One particularly sad story was of a woman named Judith Defour, and her two year old daughter, Mary. 

[00:11:16] Apparently she had such a terrible gin addiction that she was literally driven mad. 

[00:11:25] She went with her daughter and a friend into a field.

[00:11:29] They removed the daughter's clothes and they strangled the daughter, they killed the daughter, and left her there dead. 

[00:11:38] And they went to sell the clothes to buy gin. 

[00:11:43] This woman had literally killed her baby for a drink of gin. 

[00:11:49] This was a little bit of a wake-up call for Britain, that this gin was causing people to do such horrible and desperate things, and the government finally decided to do something about it.

[00:12:04] In 1751 the government passed something called The Gin Act, which raised taxes and made it harder to get a licence. 

[00:12:14] Alongside this, they promoted drinking beer and tea, and by 1830, nearly 100 years after the death of poor little Mary Defour, beer finally became cheaper than gin again. 

[00:12:30] So the gin craze was finally over. 

[00:12:35] London's gin consumption returned to normal, although I'm sure that if you were to go to a bar on a normal Friday night in central London, you might not agree with the statement that Londoners' gin consumption is 'normal'. 

[00:12:52] In any case, it's a lot less than 10 litres per year. 

[00:12:56] And at least people don't seem to be going mad at quite the levels that they were doing 300 years ago. 

[00:13:04] Gin, today, as you may know, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence, it's getting popular again, with consumption worldwide growing 13% per year from 2013 to 2018.

[00:13:21] Now though, it's certainly in the premium category. 

[00:13:26] I think if you went to a fancy bar and asked for a cup of warm gin for a penny, they might be slightly surprised.

[00:13:37] Okay then, I hope that this has been an interesting journey into the time of London's gin craze

[00:13:45] It's fascinating to think that this really wasn't that long ago and that it had such a strong grip on so many people. 

[00:13:57] As usual, if you are looking for the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can get that on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:14:07] The transcript is available in new animating form, so that's a bit like subtitles, but even better. 

[00:14:14] So go and check that out. 

[00:14:16] That's at Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:14:19] And final point - I always like to hear what you think of the podcast. 

[00:14:23] So if you have thoughts, feedback, questions, or anything you want to say, then please do get in touch. 

[00:14:31] You can email us at hi - 'hi' @leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:14:35] I'd love to hear from you. 

[00:14:38] I'm Alastair Budge and you've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English.

[00:14:45] Stay safe and I'll catch you in the next episode.