I, like most Brit’s and indeed most of the Western world, have a funny old relationship with alcohol.
My earliest memory of it, was my parents (being rather European on reflection) giving us a soupçon of red wine in a sherry glass on a Sunday – in order to not make it a big deal, and to make us feel included. I used to save mine for my pudding and pour some on my vanilla ice cream much to my Dad’s dismay (“if you don’t appreciate it, you’re not having it”).
Well actually Dad, that Hardy’s Stamp Varietal blend you were offering out, complemented the ice-cream to no end, with its similar undertones of vanilla and woody finish.
That was the start of my love affair with alcohol and especially the red stuff. Like most people, so many of my holiday/Facebook/weekend pics are not just punctuated, but littered with alcohol.
I find it funny on reflection, that my parents thought that an early introduction to alcohol would in some way stop me from going mad for it later on. It just meant we were more experienced… I had developed a taste for it. Granted by uni I wasn’t falling on the floor pissed. No, on the contrary I could handle the stuff by then.
My next encounters were similar to most teens, a stolen bottle of Bells here, a shared bottle of white lightning there… we even went through a weird phase of drinking bottles of Martini – high alcohol, okay taste and low cost.
Most of these encounters were met with the most horrific hangovers. I was nicknamed “two cans” at 15 for being sick on the same amount of Stella Artois. I also remember trying to beg my parents to call in sick for me at my Sunday washing up job at the local Chinese another time. I listed my ailments, without realising “unquenchable thirst” didn’t need Poirot to work out what my “illness” was caused by.
By the time you get to the age that you can drink in the UK, it’s almost an anti-climax. Oh I can use real ID instead of fake ID, that’s novel.
Whether you choose uni or the working life, your week is punctuated with the Monday slump “I am not drinking this week ugh I need some time off”, the good intentions last until you realise you have plans on either Tuesday or Wednesday, and before you know it it’s Thursday, which is basically Friday right?
At my work we have an actual free bar. It’s open Thursday and Friday till about 8.30pm. Just enough time to get you sozzled. I am not going to lie – It’s just such a ridiculous perk of the job that I am sure it will mean I will never leave. At 5pm on Thursday you hear “pop” all round the office, and a collective sense of relief and release.
We made it guys, the weekend is almost in sight.
(We even invented ‘Deskpresso’s’ which are quite impressive considering its shaken up milk, poor man’s Baileys and some instant Nescafe).
Then the actual weekend kicks in. This is a no holds barred free for all of drinking that used to be…Saturday night out, then it was pre-drinks, and it just got earlier and earlier. Our Saturdays are now filled with bottomless brunches, and Sunday’s are full of boozy roasts. My friends and I have EVEN coined the “Prossekfast” for when you can’t wait till brunch.
It’s all fine – it’s at a posh restaurant right? We dress up for it, we’re “ladies who brunch”, it’s an Instagram moment.
Weddings and Christmas are a joy because you can drink from the moment you wake up with no judgement!
I would highly recommend baileys on top of your Crunchy Nut cornflakes on Christmas Day. Rather than it being a shocking addition to a pre-9am meal, people have applauded it – how novel!
It’s there for celebrations… and also commiserations. “I’ve had a tough day, I’ve had a great day, I’ve been sacked, I’ve been promoted, I feel lonely, I am surrounded by friends, I can’t face doing that admin, omg I just finished that annoying task!”
But it’s all fine right?
Because it’s in a lovely glass, or it is from the south of France, or it goes alongside happy smiley faces.
But why… WHY do we need it?
“I don’t need it”
“Okay go without it”
“No I don’t want to”
“Because I enjoy it”
Surely it’s the occasion you like, not the drink?
Medically speaking the correlation between alcohol and so many freaking illnesses is akin to cigarettes.
The same argument above could be used for cigarettes 10 years ago – ‘I enjoy it’, but it’s frowned upon now. We don’t smoke, why do we drink?
I don’t know a single person that counts alcohol as part of their calorie intake, myself included. But how many teaspoons of sugar does it take to make these bad boys?!
I don’t know anyone that WANTS to hear about the correlation between long term alcohol use and depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, problems at work… because it’s all fine! We are having fun! The affect on your heart, kidney, skin, cellulite, mouth, teeth – WHOLE BODY, doesn’t matter because it’s just a few glasses of wine right?
The horror of waking up next to someone you don’t know, or not remembering something you said… is FINE because the joy of that first sip or Guinness, or the partnering of the red wine with your lamb dinner tastes DELICIOUS.
It’s all just a “normal” part of our “normal” lives.
Where the majority of us would prefer NOT TO GO OUT, than go out and not drink.
I recently did a month’s stint without booze, and I felt FULL OF ENERGY AND LIFE. I was so bloody SMUG, that… I started this blog. I have cut down since and feel so clean and healthy for it.
If you can get to a place where you genuinely, hand on heart, CHOOSE to drink. That you could go for dinner with friends and not partake. To parties. To weddings… then I applaud you. You’ve nailed it. You are not an alcoholic.
For the rest of us I am not so sure.