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THE PARTY'S OVER: Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone because of the wicked self-indulgence of their citizens; the conceit and vanity of Nebuchadnezzar spelt the end of the glorious Babylonian empire; Jesus threw the business fraternity out of the temple declaring it had made his father's house "a den of thieves"; Cromwell's Puritans tried to outlaw most forms of fun in the 17th century - drinking and gambling but also theatre and fancy haircuts; in 1919 the 18th Amendment to the United States constitution was passed prohibiting the manufacture, sale, import or export of intoxicating liquor; an unparalleled period of illegal drinking and partying came to an end in 1933 with the 21st Amendment repealing prohibition; John Birt's mission when he arrived at the BBC in 1987 was to clean up waste and mismanagement at a cost of 5,000 jobs; Lord Nolan has proposed tough rules governing MPs' payment for consultancies, freebies and extra-parliamentary activities.

TODAY is the feast day of Saint Matthias, patron saint of alcoholics. Following the suicide of Judas Iscariot, Matthias was chosen (by lot) to become the twelfth apostle. His patronage of drunks is traditional but of uncertain origin but his life as an apostle was none the less adventurous. He was martyred with an axe on the shores of the Caspian Sea. In Ethiopia he was captured and blinded by cannibals but rescued just in time by Saint Andrew who, by a miracle, arrived on a boat piloted by Jesus.

14 May 1919: Henry John Heinz, US food manufacturer, died. Born in 1844 of German parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Henry Heinz began his career at the age of eight when he sold produce from his family's garden. Aged 16 he became more adventurous and began to dry and grate horseradish and sell it in glass bottles. He offered to refund the purchase price if the product was unsatisfactory, a guarantee of good quality that later became part of his sales pitch. In partnership with his cousin he moved on to more ambitious food manufacture, but was always a proselytiser for pure food. He also pioneered good practices in staff welfare. By 1896, his enterprise produced more than 60 products. But the number 57 appealed to him, and the slogan "57 varieties" has never changed.

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