20 September 2015

Drunkenness

A river begins with a small stream.
Drunkenness begins with just a glass.
It is a long time since I experienced the feeling of drunkenness. Years in fact. Nowadays, though I continue to enjoy three or four  beers every other evening, I never get myself into a  state of inebriation. I like to be in control and to wake refreshed, ready for a new day. The thought of a hangover attracts me about as much as signing up to be a warrior for The Islamic State.

But there have been times... when I was younger. In university and elsewhere. Times when I drank myself stupid so that I did shameful things that were totally uncharacteristic of the real me - like releasing a dark beast that usually sleeps within. Punches I threw. The arguments I had. Vehicles I drove. Women I pulled. Staggering homewards. Waking with no memory of what happened the night before. There are things I did when really drunk that I have never shared with anyone - secrets that I will surely take to my grave.

My parents were never big drinkers. Their relationship with the demon alcohol was sensible and most unremarkable. However when Mum was in her late seventies, she began to like a tipple and her drink of choice was strong whisky. She began to drink it in the afternoon and the measures she poured herself became bigger and bigger. If she came to stay at our house she would sometimes sneak into our dining room to pour herself secret glassfuls.  Even when she was in the old folks' home where she finally died she would badger care assistants to fetch her drink. It was a sad thing to witness.

Drunkenness can be fun for an hour or two - especially if it happens in pleasant circumstances with friends or family - but more often than not it is the precursor of bad things. Buying alcohol is quite costly and the money that is spent on it can be a big drain on personal finances. It can threaten physical and mental health in several ways including diabetes, heart problems, personality disorder. It may cause serious road traffic accidents and it is often a key factor in sexual or physical assaults. Theft, vandalism, days off work, family battles and social media rants are frequently spawned by drunkenness.

The English pub is a special institution. My distant cousin John in Silsden referred to it as "the third place" - not home or work but the "third place" in which we have our being - possibly surrounded by other pub goers and friends. It is somewhere you can relax and let off a little steam, play a game of darts, read a newspaper or just stare into the foam on top of your pint. But of course pubs can also be the very places where drunkenness happens. It is undoubtedly a question of balance and of self-restraint. The line between responsible drinking and alcohol-fuelled mindlessness is paper thin.

How is your relationship with alcohol these days?

25 comments:

  1. In our farm community, the bar at Sloughhouse is where all the farmers met for lunch, it was the social place to be. The farmers didn't go back to work drunk, just informed. I think a pub has an important place in society. I don't personally drink, I've never been good at it. Got drunk once and threw up in my long hair.

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    1. Mmm... Vomit is not the nicest hair conditioner. The perfume just ain't right!

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    1. Mmm,,, Not after last night with Jason the Despot!

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    2. Oh John a bit ironic is it not the timing of this post. Very true words Yorkie re drinking and doing things one would not normally do. I'm small so I have to be very careful when I drink and I do this rarely so this makes me even more intolerant to alcohol . I rarely drink and when I do it's often a refreshing shandy in the hot weather . An occasional gin and tonic with my family . I have an uncle who has a severe alcohol problem and it's a sad thing to see.

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    3. Small? Are you a pixie Leishy or perhaps a fairy? Sounds like you have a healthy relationship with drink.

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    4. Well it has been said at times that " I am off with the Pixies' .

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    5. Off with the pixies? I thought you said you don't really drink!

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    6. I don't really drink at all. I think this refers to me being at times prior to motherhood self ansorbed in my own thoughts .

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  3. I rarely have a drink these days. I've got a varied supply of spirits and wine, and beer in the fridge, but it remains in place untouched. It's there if I feel like indulging or a surprise visitor arrives....

    I felt like having a couple of drinks over the weekend, but the urge passed and all that I drank was of the non-alcoholic variety....coffee, water and milk.

    A friend of mine was going through a mini-crisis over the weekend...so I was constantly on the phone or nearby to the phone...and at times I really did feel like having a stiff Scotch or two...but I didn't.

    I'll never give up having a drink...but it doesn't play a major role in my life. I most definitely am not a "wowser"! And I hope I never become one!

    I enjoy having a drink...when with the right company...but not to the drunken stage. I've always been able to hold my alcohol well. Sometimes I believe it's mind over matter..and hangovers are no fun.

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    1. Is your surname Willpower Lee? Admirable!

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    2. Perhaps I should teach my two furry rascals, Remy and Shama, to drink alcohol, and then I'd have two drinking partners to share a drink or three with...two good mates who know and understand me well...and don't judge. :)

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  4. When I was little, I usually only saw my Dad drink milk or Pepsi, with the rare glass of beer at a restaurant if he wasn't driving (which he usually was). My Mum didn't drink any alcohol until 15 years ago. New Year's Eve 2000 was the first time I saw her with a glass of champagne in her hand.
    Nowadays, my Mum and I enjoy the bubbly stuff when we go out - one glass each -, and I do love my cocktail parties. My Dad occasionally has a glass of wine, like yesterday, when we had a family meal at the end of an afternoon of board games.
    I go to the pub regularly, but all I ever have there is ginger ale - need my wits about me when we play the pub quiz.
    The only time I was tipsy - but still knew perfectly well what I was doing, and had no problem walking home - was when we were watching the football finals and Germany became world champion. That was when I had about two glasses more than usual, and the result was not a hangover, but a nearly sleepless night as my mind remained at the surface of sleep, never going really deep in as it normally would.
    Steve was a binge alcoholic. While he was alive, I did not keep any alcohol at home, and as a consequence, didn't drink any myself. Now I do have a few bottles of cocktail ingredients, but I never even think of pouring myself a glass when on my own.
    Crossing the line from enjoyment to dependance is very easy, but I am glad that it has never been my problem, and I hope it never will. It was bad enough sometimes with Steve.

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    1. I wish I had a bag containing all the money I have spent on beer in my life. Suddenly I would be rich! I am surprised by what you just said about Steve's relationship with drink.

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  5. My relationship is still a healthy enjoyable one, I think. Last time I had to see a doctor in the UK, he asked me if I drink - I said, no, just a glass of wine with every meal, and a beer or two at the weekends, and maybe the odd whisky, oh, and a glass of vermouth before weekend meals, and cava with any kind of celebration,... and he said that sounded great!

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    1. You might be underestimating Brian. That's typical of alcoholics!

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  6. I have to be careful as I'm not a one pint man. I can't remember when I last had a drink so I'll have to get some booze in this week.
    Was this post inspired by the wonderful tale of our PM and the pig? He must have been hammered.

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    1. "A new biography reports that UK prime minister David Cameron, while a student at Oxford, put “a private part of his anatomy” into the mouth of a dead pig as part of a hazing ritual." I had not heard about this till I Googled it Adrian. I wonder if the pig was called Samantha?

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    2. I think he must have been trying to keep it quiet. I must email #10 and ask him whether there is any mitigation in it being a dead pig other than it being safer to have oral sex with a dead one.

      Samantha is beautiful but she does speak a bit funny.

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    3. Maybe you could volunteer to star alongside her in a new version of "Lady Chatterley's Lover"? Dave would be in the audience applauding.

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    4. With or without a pig?

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    5. If you want a pig in your dressing room that is your choice Adrian.

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  7. I do drink wine some evenings. A glass while cooking dinner usually. Maybe two. If that is my worse habit, well, then so be it!

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  8. Tony and I have never been drinkers, which often made us struggle in social situations. Not because we are wowsers but because we just didn't like the taste. Of recent years we have changed that a little and now enjoy a glass or two of wine when we eat out but very rarely at home so we are much more socially acceptable ! !

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  9. The French with their preoccupation with lunch never miss out on a glass or two of rose to go with it. Don't know how they do any work in the afternoon .

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