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Friday, 27 April 2007

Love alcohol, Hate the State

I suppose our parents first started us on a little wine well-watered at the dinner table when we reached about 9 or 10 years of age. So started a life-long love affair with C2H5OH, or rather a love affair with the substances in which C2H5OH is disguised. A love affair, I hasten to add, that has never fallen into the blind infatuation of addiction. As with all love affairs, as the years pass I find consummation less frequently. Indeed, there are now days on end during a busy work-week when I forget to take a drink at all.

The dining-room cabinet holds ranks of bottles of curious shape and hue, some of them unopened for a decade. Derived from chocolate, melons, worms, cacti, potatoes, plums and God knows what - all sharing that miracle of fermentation and distillation that, as Heaven's especial gift to Man, allows us to make a drink out of any conceivable variety of organic material on the planet. When the NASA probe announced that microbes had been found on Mars, I must admit the thought idly flicked through my mind "I wonder what sort of liqueur they'd make?".

When I think back on all the good things in my life - all those brief little scenarios of joy and pleasure, the warm laughter of friends, the passion of lovers, the sudden stunning realisations that you are gazing at a scene of true beauty, the closeness of companions who have shared past danger - always in the scene somewhere is alcohol. The old French vintner who declared "A day without wine is like a day without Sunshine" had it spot on.

So you will understand why the news this morning that an organisation calling itself Alcohol Concern, no doubt comprised of characters formed from the rancid grey scum that rises from the bubbling cauldron of joyless interference in other people's lives, declares that parents who allow under 15s to taste life's nectar should be jailed, I am less than enthusiastic. The French would snort, the Spanish giggle and the Italians shrug. Even the Germans would blow a little Teutonic toot through pursed lips.

And now another thought has flicked through my mind. If the meddling witch from Alcohol Concern who spoke on R4's 'Today' earlier was mashed, fermented and distilled, aged in an oak cask with wormwood and scorpion tails, and bottled, what would the taste be? Bitter, no doubt. A hidden spiteful sting, perhaps not unpleasant if well diluted. A few drops then, in a Paris goblet, well swilled round to coat the glass, before half a gill of good Plymouth Gin is added. That would be perfect.


Newmania said...

Well that slipped down like a velvety plonk that’s a little tart on the palette itself Raedders . My own relationship with this kindly familiar has been somewhat less civilised at times.
Your panegyric to the small god of inebriation though, is quite clearly an attempt to gloss over the difficult truth . You are a lush aka ,a sot , with an explosion of veins where a nose once stood and an ocean of years between you and the last time you saw your feet.” My name is Raedwald and I have a drink problem”. Go on ..make that call.

ps I am bit busy but I am interested in this investigation below as well

Ed said...

Also published today were the road safety figures showing that the UK (with its more tolerant drink-drive limit) is still much better at road safety than some of the stricter countries.

Correlation of course does not imply causation but if it ain't broke...

Binge drinking and the town-centre culture are of course caused by kids not knowing how to handle their booze, rather than by parents giving them too much.

Jackart said...

I was going to have a go at this issue myself after hearing "Today" this morning.

I shall simply direct them here instead.

Raedwald said...

Mr N - not far out, but in the same way in which my remaining hair refuses to go grey and remains a revoltingly juvenile ruddy chestnut colour that belies my age, my face, and in particular my nose, refuse to adopt that purplish veinousness that, if there were any justice in the universe, should be mine. Sigh. Life is a bitch at times.

I am also told that my lifetime of immoderate alcohol consumption has destroyed my brain and left me a disfunctional imbecile. Damn.

Electro Kevin said...

I saw the chap from Alcohol Concern and he was a goaty-bearded fuck-wit - what a surprise. (He says sardonically)

Yet more interference in our lives rather than proper punishment of the principal offender found drunk and disorderly. A week scrubbing graffiti or clearing litter would make them think again.

My measure of a serious drink problem is if I touch the Creme de Menthe - I know I'm in serious trouble if I take that after everything else in the cabinet is finished.

mens sana said...

Hear Hear

Stuff her. Stuff the lot of them. Arrest me if you like


Electro Kevin said...

Absolutely fantastic writing btw, Raedwald.

MikeyP said...

I do not suppose that the stupid woman concerned gives a toss about alcoholism. As with all PC tosspots, it's all about control freakery.

My Mother and Father let me have a small glass of wine on special occasions when I was a lad, and, to coin a phrase, it never did me any harm. I have played lots of rugby in my life and quaffed many a pint, but I am not an alcoholic yet! Mind you, many more years of NuLabour and it might be the easy way out!!

I agree with Ed about the causes of binge drinking and would add that if parents are to be prosecuted, it should be for not controlling their children.

Ruthie said...

Great post, I found it via Tom Paine's link...

I live in the U.S., and the laws here are significantly more restrictive than in Europe. It is illegal here to supply alcohol to anyone under 21 (even your own children).

As a result, American culture has developed an extremely unhealthy relationship with alcohol, because it's often necessarily viewed as something taboo and inherently bad.

So on their 21st birthdays, young Americans go out and get totally plastered, and thus starts a fun trend of blacking out every weekend and getting ridiculous drunk every chance they get (I'm a college student, I see it every day).

I hope that's not what Alcohol Concern wants to happen in Europe.

My family is of Italian descent, and my parents have always let us drink a little wine with dinner. And despite many opportunities to do so, none of of us have become alcoholics. We're all very responsible about it-- far more responsible than my unfortunate classmates who saw alcohol as a forbidden fruit.

Really great post.

Newmania said...

juvenile ruddy chestnut colour that belies my age,

What about the picture in the attic though ?

Anonymous said...

I believe I have been to some of those sames scenes of true beauty - and picked up your empties.

jack rensimer said...

Fascinating indeed...

As Ruthie indicated, here in the states alcohol is looked upon as taboo in some circles and so there may be this rebellion that manifests in the binge.

I do enjoy a pint here and there, mainly Belgium Ales, and realize there are benefits received form this in moderation.

To each his own. : )

David Gillies said...

H. L. Mencken described Puritanism as the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying himself. There's really no retort to these pressure groups masquerading as charities other than a two fingered salute plus a raspberry or, if they appear to be gaining ground, locking them in the stocks and pelting them with rotten fruit.