roaring drunk

I spent an interesting morning on a private visit to Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, where I found the beast in the photo.

white plaster lion

The young lady who showed us around told us that the word “plastered”, meaning “drunk”, derives from the habit of adding white wine to plaster to keep it malleable: the artisans who worked with the mix were exposed to the alcoholic fumes all day. What’s more, she said, they were allowed to keep and drink the wine that remained unused at the end of the day.

I’m really not convinced that a drunken artisan could produce the spectacular plasterwork of which the lordly lion was just a tiny motif. I note, though, that the decoration was in the room known as “the saloon”.