Drinking from skulls: a guide

A skull makes a lousy drinking vessel. There are holes where the eyes used to be, and the mouth/jaw bit just makes everything even more awkward. Yeah, you can cut those bits off and just use what used to be the top of the head, but even then, it’s awkward. When you’re ranking drinking vessels for ease of use, a skull comes low on the list. Even below those tiny white cups they always have in the office kitchen, the ones that hold a mouthful of tea and somehow make it go cold before you’ve got from kitchen to meeting room. (The cups that persuaded you to bring your own mug into work, or maybe keep “borrowing” a colleague’s.)

So why is drinking wine out of your enemy’s skull considered so de rigeur? To read the cultural references, you’d think it was up there with visiting Paris in the spring as a must-do. But it makes no sense. After all, if you must drink wine out of a skull, wouldn’t it be more fun if it was the skull of someone you admired? And let’s face it, you’re going to spill wine all over yourself whatever happens.

I’m asking the wrong question, of course. Nobody thinks “What would be a good thing to drink wine out of?” and comes up with the answer “My enemy’s skull.” People start by asking “What can I do with my enemy’s skull?” and “Drink wine out of it” doesn’t seem quite so unreasonable then. Especially if you’ve already drunk quite a lot of wine. Most things seem like more of a good idea after drinking quite a lot of wine.

When you’re drinking wine out of a skull, you have a choice. You can bellow in a Brian Blessed voice about vengeance and take big swigs, sloshing wine all over your clothes as if you’re too much of a Nordic god to care about petty things like stain removal.

Or you can talk about upcycling and how you found this darling little skull-of-your-enemy at a vintage market and converted it into a wine vessel by pouring wine into it really badly. Then photograph it on some barn wood.

Clue: if you’re trying to impress people, the Nordic god stuff wins over upcycling every time.

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