"Men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week - the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or seven glasses of wine - in order to keep their health risks low, new government guidelines have recommended."
That's the latest official health advice in Britain. The grim-faced "experts" warn us about cancers of the mouth and intestines, obesity, clinical depression, breast cancer in women, liver and kidney failure, heart disease. And so it goes on.
However, these killjoy prophets of doom fail to acknowledge the benefits that moderate consumption of alcohol can bring. The laughter, the lubrication of conversation, the relaxation, the social nourishment. And they also fail to explain away the fact that the consumption of alcohol has been a part of daily living in Britain since the Romans first came to these islands.
Most British adults enjoy a tipple. I am not talking about binge drinking or excessive consumption but sensible enjoyment of beers, cider, wine and spirits - whatever floats your boat. Alcohol has been part of my life for forty five years and I haven't been buried yet nor have I suffered any health complaints connected with alcohol so how am I meant to take this fourteen unit advice seriously?
I guess that the sour-faced experts would prefer it if we all went to bed at 9pm, ate salads ever day, visited the gym three times a week and went to church on Sundays. If I limited myself to fourteen units a week I might as well just forget drinking at all. Besides what is life for? The champions of The Unit Religion never seem to address that fundamental matter.
Even as I write this post, I am drinking a lovely bottle of "Henney's" Classic Cider from Herefordshire and it's a nice drink too - probably two and a half units of my weekly allowance. But tomorrow night I will be going to the pub quiz at "The Hammer and Pincers" where I expect I'll sup four pints of India Pale Ale by "Greene King". How many units is that? Probably nine.
I hate that word "units" anyway. It sounds scientific and measurable. I prefer a different kind of language for alcohol. Visiting the Henney's website, I find these kind of words in place of "units" and miserable research vocabulary - "Sweet appley aroma, palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some spicy bite and a bit of tannuc grip. Very fruity and quite pure with a nice savoury twist."
So in conclusion, I won't be buying a unit notebook any time soon in order to keep a detailed tally of my alcohol consumption and I certainly won't be toasting the proponents of the fourteen unit idea. The only concession I shall make is to try a bit harder to ensure that there are two or even three days a week when I don't drink any alcohol at all.