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Gimme a pig foot and a bottle of beer

February 26, 2010

When Bessie Smith sang those immortal words the bottle of beer was already doing better than the pig’s foot, and it hasn’t declined in popularity, in fact The Guardian are running an excellent campaign to stop our youngsters getting sozzled, supported by Drinkaware. In this video some of them discuss their experiences of learning about alcohol.

Everyone talks about drinking sensibly. What’s that? Isn’t it better not to drink at all? Pshaw! The very idea!

But hey, I don’t drink and I’m as happy as Larry. He’s my hairdresser and he’s very happy.

On a sober note, my drinking history began at 14 and peaked at my 21st birthday party with Tequila slammers that resulted in my passing out cold at 9pm whilst the revelry continued into the small hours without me. After all the weeks of planning and anticipation, I missed my 21st altogether. In fact I missed out on quite a lot of my youth, courtesy of the demon drink; but though I drank heavily, the grace of God spared me the terrible disease of alcoholism.

Those of us in the know are aware that alcoholism is not defined by how much or even how often someone drinks, but whether or not they can stop at one. As the alcoholics say: ‘One is too many. A thousand aren’t enough’.

I’m a serious sugar junky so I know what that feels like. I can’t stop at one biscuit. If you locked me in a padded cell with a packet of biscuits, you’d have to put me in a strait jacket and muzzle me like Hannibal Lecter. But please don’t. And while you’re on, please don’t chop off my head and keep me alive in a jar. Just in case you were thinking of it…

Years later my drinking slowed almost to a halt when I learned to drive and realised that my faculties did not need further diminishing. The police agreed with me. After breathalysing me they wondered if their machine was working. Only a drunk could drive as badly as that, they said.

Suffice to say that when alcohol left my life altogether, on account of my becoming physically intolerant of it – and perhaps intellectually intolerant too – I had the strangest revelation…

It isn’t the booze that makes party people have a good time. It’s the anticipation of pleasurable discourse, the commitment to bonhomie, the joie de vivre and other words of wisdom loaned to us by the French. Damn those clever Frenchies.

What’s more, when the drinkers are all making arses of themselves with red faces and damaged livers, I am still upright, still alert and still having a good time. And in the morning I look as good as I did yesterday, which is, I’m afraid, as good as I can look.

Enfin: on the question of how to stop youngsters drinking? That’s easy. Don’t drink yourself. It’s amazing what kids pick up from their parents.

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