Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Drink! Drink! Drink! a phrase said in a broad Irish accent made famous by Father Jack  of 'Father Ted' fame, and one for a lot of us rings loudly in our heads following a stressful day, a celebration moment or just wishing to relax and unwind during dead time. Before I get started, of course I am referring to the dreaded alcohol. My desire for a cup of English Rosie Lee, Yi Bei Kafe, or freshly squeezed orange blood can be immense, but cannot compete with the compulsion for a G&T, glass of Pinot, pint of the Black Stuff or a wee dram.

Don't get me wrong, I am not an alcoholic - quite the opposite, I will go out of my way to avoid alcohol from Monday to Thursday, and only get 'forced' into downing a bottle or two of Bei Ju when suppliers or customers demand it.  However by the time Friday comes around, a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio signals a weekend of rest and diet free debauchery.  The need to kick off the weekend with a legal high/low is universal (I think), it certainly is in the UK, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the parts of America and Canada I have visited. Places that may have been influenced by their colonial past and the British infiltration, but others without this infection I am sure copy suit - Belgium, Germany, Italy, and France must follow the pattern, I just cant speak from personal experience and confirm, after all, despite the intense British culture for getting 'plastered' at the weekend, we aren't the biggest drinkers in the world, well OK if I take the Scottish out of the equation we aren't the biggest alcoholics in the world. 

So what is it about the only legalised drug that kills millions every year, and continues to make us drown our stomachs with literally gallons of poisonous liquids each day/week/month? Is it because it acts as a relaxant, a hallucinogenic, and a pain suppressant? All of the above I guess?  I have never liked the taste of alcohol, well at least the first bottle! It will never taste as good or as sweet as a mango juice, or as refreshing as a cold coke, a freshly squeezed lemon juice, or a good cup of English tea, and a McDonalds’ strawberry milkshake can make your eyes roll into the back of your head, but none of these can give you the highs and lows of C2H5OH.  Alcohol has the ability to turn the mildest person into a psychopathic thug, the meekest person into a streaker, and the ugliest person into a Brazilian supermodel; it’s relatively cheap, legal, easily available and socially accepted.

I was introduced to alcohol at a fairly early age, you see I was brought up during the 80's where christenings, birthdays, weddings, and funerals were all marked with partys - either in the back of a pub, or in a house, the common factor was alcohol, be it lager, cheap wine (usually German), scotch whisky or Sherry! These events were alcoholic dreams, an opportunity to drink whatever you liked, whenever you liked in whatever quantities you could get away with before driving home in your Austin Princess.  As a child you were left to entertain yourself during these events, which meant pinching the trifle, wagon wheels and Smiths crisps from the buffet, whilst washing them down with whatever alcoholic drink your could find left in Aunty Morag's glass whilst she was dancing to Kajagoogoo on the dance floor. My younger brother took this one step further, once at a celebration I can’t remember (wedding/funeral/christening) he, like me spotted the enormous trays of sherry at the entrance to the dance hall.  He must have been 10 or 11 at the time, the difference was he decided that drinking 2 bottles of Harvey’s Bristol Cream would be a good idea - er no! The following stomach pumps and 2 days in intensive care at the local hospital didn't deter him from a life of pushing the alcoholic barriers, he still remains the only person I know who see's 20 pints of Guinness as an aperitif!

I drink chilled white wine in the summer and a full bodied red in the winter, I enjoy a JD & Coke along with a G&T, single malt with a single cube of ice, twice filtered frozen vodka, a salted margarita on holiday or a glass of warmed mulled wine at Christmas all mixed with the odd crate of arctic lager and a chilled pint of pure black nectar (Guinness) all these make for a varied menu of alcoholic drugs that mean whatever country, season or circumstance I am easily pleased. Of course I am an alcoholic snob, and anything but French or Italian Wine won’t do, its single Malt or nothing, and why would anyone drink anything other than Russian Vodka or British Gin? Of course the ultimate is Champagne, becoming a seasoned expat it’s as frequent a drink as Pepsi or water.  I have got a taste for the stuff and hope to drown in a vat of Moet one day.

All this alcohol is of course killing me from within; my binging is causing my liver to corrode and my brain to shrink small enough to be sneezed through my left nostril. So why would I keep drinking?  Well I guess all of the damage is done over a long period, a timescale that you don't instantly notice.  A good tailor doesn't comment on the fact that he keeps adding several inches to your waist line each fitting, and friends ensure the blimp that expands before them is only mentioned out of ear shot.  You think you have it under control, a luxury you can manage, a harmless escapism and a social requirement.  However all of this doesn't deter us, I am a firm believer in fate and being buried a very poor man, life has few luxuries at least let me allow alcohol to fuel my ignorance that I am attractive, I am confident and indestructible!