A post-7/7 sketch from the satirical programme ‘Bremner, Bird, and Fortune’ joked that the best way to integrate disaffected young Islamists into British culture was to teach them how to binge drink. 1 This joke played upon two prevalent but contradictory attitudes in contemporary British society: medical, social, and moral concerns over the destructive relationship the British are thought to have with intoxicating drink; and a pervasive popular belief that there is something fundamentally suspicious about someone who doesn’t drink alcohol in company, suggesting a refusal to join together in fellowship with the community. 2 Neither the joke itself nor the cultural mores and prejudices (however self-deprecating) it illuminates are modern. It was mirrored, for example, in numerous seventeenth-century jests, such as a popular 1683 ballad, inspired by the failed Ottoman siege of Vienna that claimed ‘Mahomet was’,

A coffee-drinking drousie rogue,

The use...

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