Booze is fantastic; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

It has now been roughly 23 days since I last had a drink or, more precisely, 552 hours or 33120 minutes or 1987200 seconds and counting; I said roughly remember, I can’t recall the exact moment when I quit, I’m not an addict for gods sake – just dedicated, to booze that is – I’m a dedicated drinker. Like most of the population (I suspect, if we’re honest) I’ve dedicated more of my life to the heady elixir of fermented yeast than perhaps anything else – admit it, you probably have to0. Of course there’s nicotine, caffeine, uppers, downers, inners and outers – but they don’t have a scratch on booze: the pièce de résistance.

Is there anything good about being pissed? Or is its sole purpose to make our lives a misery? The scraps and confrontations, the pregnancies and STDs, the weight gain, the cold blue dawn light of clarity followed by regret and apprehension concluding in anxiety and paranoia, the vomit, the divorces, the heartbreak and fallings out, the indigestion and acidity, bloated tummies and empty wallets; a Mephistopheles of the soul: a scatterer, a disperser, a plasterer of lies, seeking to corrupt men, a foot soldier of Lucifer.

Or does it come as a saviour? A diligent and efficient waiter – French perhaps – to serve and ultimately collect the half bitten empty morsels of those already damned. Not a temptress or siren but a masseuse of the soul for those in danger of being damned – a vanguard to the portal of our ever present private hell.

God knows. And who cares? All I know is that everyone, everywhere, loves booze, all the time, throughout the ages – without exception. The Chinese, Babylonians, Sumerians, all of them loved a tipple – the religious and spiritual especially, they even had gods devoted to wine – imagine such a thing. Then there are the Romans who believed wine a democratic necessity – available to all, whether slave, peasant, patron or squire and what else can you say that about? The Greeks loved their symposiums and the Macedonians, devoted followers of Dionysius (God of wine), gained a reputation for loutish behaviour and believed the stuff made you more masculine – no arguing with that.

Even the bible loves booze: Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more (proverbs 31: 6-7). And so immediately after the flood Noah had his own private vineyard installed and Jesus (that’s Jesus Christ) was so desperate to revive a flagging party that he used special powers to turn water into wine – I think that’s what you call the miracle of miracles.

It turns out that inebriation is the one thing – perhaps the only thing – that has united the sorry pit of humanity throughout the ages. That and porn; and like smut it seems to be everywhere. Whether you’re sacrificing to the gods, celebrating a victory, getting married, attending a funeral, going into battle, pledging allegiance, departing and returning, or evening abstaining; booze will turn up, always, waving its hands, dolled up like a tart to bow to its legion of followers cheering as they beckon him in. (Ok, maybe porn wasn’t a good example, but you get the idea.)

The late great legendary boozer Christopher Hitchens was right: “It has been said that alcohol is a good servant and a bad master. Nice try. The plain fact is that it makes other people, and indeed life itself, a good deal less boring.” Indeed can you imagine life without it? – The agreeable nods, the smug self satisfied grimaces of the perpetually healthy as they torture you with their latest body mass index, the health food restaurants and the gluten free freaks (naturally), taut skin and shiny cheek bones, grimaces masquerading as content, the tee-total dating sites (Margery, 27, enjoys horse-riding, the Green Party, quinoa, herbal tea and being tied up and have someone wee wee on her – strictly no DSS or Tories, thanks).

Apparently the old are drinking more and the young a lot less – and by less I mean total abstinence. The number of under-25s opting for a booze free existence has increased by 40 per in the last 9 years, with more than quarter not drinking at all. This probably has something to do with the current Mohammed name fad and the rising Muslim demographic (in ‘ultra diverse’ London 1 in 3 people are now teetotal) but also to do with the fact that generation safe-space are the most censorious, whining, narcissistic and irksome generation ever. And who wants to end up like that? So good riddance, let them wallow in their boredom.

As I said I’ve have been a loyal and faithful follower for over 17 years and never missed a weekend – until now, that is. Time to reassess, take stock, sort ones life out, as they love to say. I’ve done a month and that’s long enough. Just another 68 hours and 32 minutes left to the end of my temperance. I can’t wait. I’ve a bone to pick. So here’s to alcohol the greatest and most unifying contrivance or connivance mankind has ever discovered or invented. Cheers.


An Inebriated Christmas Diary

Boarded the train from Euston to Manchester with a moderately bad hangover, a G and T hangover in fact – not so bad if you get a reasonable night’s sleep. The G and T hangover is not physical (nausea, headache, cramps in the legs) more of the mental variety (anxiety, paranoia, dull roar of dread), “laureate of the hangover” Kingsley Amis wrote about the distinction between the two types. This is definitely a mental, but nothing that a couple of drinks tonight can’t cure.

God I hate Christmas but love train journeys – so plenty of time to write my list of festive woes: Turkey, an absolutely dreadful meat with no flavour what-so-ever – that’s why people only eat it once a year, unless they buy it in packets for sandwiches in which case it’s indistinguishable from chicken. 2. Doctor Who, the Christmas episodes are always the worse. 3. People complaining about repeats on TV. 4. People watching TV in groups. 5. Being older and not getting proper presents. Look, I wanted a PS4 this year got bloody Nivea aftershave balm and a sweater. Rubbish. 6. Drinking too much and embarrassing yourself in front of family. But what do they expect? Lunch starts at 2.00pm for Christ sake, in Colombia I believe they eat Dinner on the 24th at midnight, sounds like a good idea.

I haven’t been to church, not even at Christmas for about 17 years, so this year was quite an event. The priest was a bit eccentric and unorthodox – the older congregation has complaining about him. At least he put on a decent show unlike the audience, which put minimal effort into the carol singing. It was that bad they actually pulled out a soprano to encourage them, seriously. It seems the art of carol singing is dying out, as with Christianity as a whole. Fifteen years ago this church would have been packed, people crowding behind the pews, cramming for space, tonight there were a few seats empty. I bet those that did show up only came for the free Sherry and Mince Pies. Maybe they should erect a bar in the back of the place.

Everybody has been saying that the reason the weather this Christmas is mild and wet is because of Global Warming. Rubbish. Climate changes – that’s what happens. A few years ago it snowed and it might do next year. I remember on sports day at school 20 years ago, it got so hot we had to cancel the event – nobody said anything about Global Warming then. No, then it was acid rain.

I’ve spent a significant part of the last decade abroad so haven’t visited my hometown for many years. I decided to visit some of the old haunts – schools, houses, playing fields, streets and homes of childhood enemies and friends. What’s surprising is that the people – most of them – have long gone or grown much older; the places themselves look more or less the same, and since the people have faded the places themselves hold no real significance. Wants the difference, between say a field in Liverpool and one in Milton Keyes? Nothing. It’s people that make the difference – that make memories. Having spent so many Christmases abroad I thought that I’d enjoy my first home in many years. It wasn’t too bad, but not as good as I thought it would be. But what could be better than trying to re-create Christmas in a condo in Bangkok? Over 32 degrees and 100 per cent humidity, with two electric hobs to recreate your festive dinner, air conditioning on full blast, a Christmas album compilation – It even sounded good, imagine! Or in Cairo, where they don’t even celebrate it, or Colombia where they eat dinner at the stroke of midnight while pouring tumblers full of Red Label – without a mixer, I might add – and don’t even know what a prawn cocktail is.

It’s Boxing Day. I’ve got another shitty hangover and a Christmas Diary to write. This hangover is a like an early morning dawn mist and comes with a 6000-calorie bolt on. Consumed in order: beer, white wine, beer, Gin and Tonic, Benedictine, port, sherry, Gin and Tonic, Advocaat, beer, Gin and Tonic, Limoncello. As you can imagine I’m feeling pretty rough, but once you’ve been drinking for days on end your body gets used to it. Questioning my entire existence, feeling ever so slightly nauseous and a little concerned for my future prospects and health, I slowly make my way down the stairs I used to run down at dawn on Christmas morning decades ago to find a heap load of presents under the tree. Sporting my old dressing gown – much too small now – I make my way into the kitchen, where my mum is preparing bacon – from M&S obviously – sandwiches for everyone. “How many do you want?” She asks. “Just the one, thanks, I’m feeling a bit under the weather,” I reply. “Well that’s it until next year, do you want brown sauce?” Merry Christmas.