Hailing a black cab has become easier of late on the mean streets of London. Cabbies have been finding it increasingly difficult to get a good fare and, even when they do, the evidence of the recession haunts them. One cabbie recently complained to Management Today that he had picked up 10 people in the previous week who had just been made redundant. "And all of them were drunk," he observed.
But one thing is certain: they were not getting smashed on the real thing. According to the Champagne Bureau, drinkers in the UK consumed some 21 million bottles of bubbly in 1990 - down 6.6% on the previous year. A few choice names continued to sparkle: Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot and Laurent Perrier, for example, all reported a healthy increase in sales. But for the most part the figures suggest that the business of getting plastered is now a more plebeian affair.