The next exotic night drink I had determined to try was Bovril. For one who detests Marmite, with which Bovril is often compared, I found it surprisingly tolerable. That said, I was essentially drinking a cup of weak gravy, but without the accompanying benefit of a bag of chips or side of beef. Well might it be a staple of the football terrace on a cold winter's night; cold and hunger make anything bearable. 

'Bovril' comes from the Latin bovinus meaning ox and -vril, the name of a substance in a Victorian novel which empowered a super race. Sometimes called beef tea, it was popular in the First World War, as well as earlier conflicts such as the Franco-Prussian War, during which millions of jars were ordered. Bizarrely, an advertisement for it in the early 1900s depicted Pope Leo XIII sipping away, whilst enthroned in his pontifical splendour. The captions read: Two Infallible Powers – The Pope & Bovril. Whether this was a cunning ploy to corner the Catholic market, or an ironic quip at the Holy Father’s expense, one cannot say. Containing as it does the extracts of dead animals and yeast extract, I think it a fitting comparison. The decaying papacy and its corrupting yeast will harm the soul more quickly than Bovril warms the body. The latter is not an unpleasant drink, but I could not quaff it too often, and certainly not in summer. In a dark, long winter, the ox's strength and durablilty are useful traits. Infallible, however, they are not. 

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox. Proverbs 14:4