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Let’s All Drink To Bob Hawke

The YouTube video below shows 82-year-old former Prime Minister Bob Hawke downing a beer at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

It brought to mind a 1975 ditty by Paul Jennings, a well-known impressionist of the time.

In 1975, Hawke was the President of the ACTU. He didn’t reach the House of Representatives until 1980. He was Australia’s third longest-serving prime minister from 1983 until 1991.

  • Click to listen to “Let’s all drink to Bob Hawke” (3m)
  • Watch Hawke at the SCG (29s)

Whilst a student at Oxford University in 1953, Hawke drank 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Hawke recalled the feat in his memoirs:

“In more down-to-earth fashion I inadvertently achieved notoriety as a result of one of the quaint and ancient customs of my college. A system operated at dinner in the Great Hall under which if an offence was committed – in my case coming to dinner without a gown (some bastard had borrowed mine) – one was ‘sconced’. This meant having to drink two and a half pints of ale out of an antique pewter pot in less than twenty-five seconds. Failure to do so involved paying for the first drink, plus another two and a half pints. My chance of avoiding payment lay in downing the ale within the limit and hoping that the Sconcemaster – the President of the Junior Common Room – could not beat my time. I was too broke for the fine and necessity became the mother of ingestion. I downed the contents of the pot in eleven seconds, left the Sconcemaster floundering, and entered the Guniness Book of Records with the fastest time ever recorded. This feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved.”

Bob Hawke, Turf Tavern, Oxford University


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Malcolm Farnsworth
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