ALCOHOL - ONE
Even before I started to write about alcohol, I guessed that it would take more than a single blogpost. Here, before I start, I would like to pause for a moment to remember all of the thousands of victims of alcohol. You may have known some of those people. They died in car accidents, fights, suicidal leaps, drunken rages, tragic domestic accidents and mostly they died in hospital beds of alcohol-related conditions like liver disease, pancreatic cancer, obesity, strokes, weakening of the immune system, internal bleeding and so on.
Yes, let us remember them for there are no stone memorials nor special remembrance days.
Just as an example - one young man I knew got tanked up just before Christmastime many years ago. Snow was beginning to fall and the pavements were icy. A taxi dropped him off on the estate where he lived. Being drunk, it seems that he went up the wrong passageway between houses and upon realising his error he decided to cross the low wire fence between the two houses. It was a fatal mistake because he tripped or slipped over the wire and banged his head on their concrete coal bunker. He was not found until the sun had risen - lying outside his back door as dead as his ancestors. Much of what had happened was written in the snow. I believe he was nineteen or maybe twenty.
My parents were never big drinkers. My father hardly ever went in one of the two village pubs and the only alcohol we ever had in the house always seemed to be connected with Christmastime. Between Christmases it would sit in the little glass-fronted drinks cupboard untouched. And there was never any wine on the table at mealtimes. Besides, back then wine drinking seemed to be the preserve of the rich and powerful and it was hard to locate.
Sometimes when I walked past the vents of "The Hare and Hounds" after playing football up on the village playing-field, I would smell a repulsive odour of stale beer mingled with cigarette smoke. It was horrible and spoke of a mysterious adult world to which I did not belong. In those days children never went in pubs.
The first time I got drunk I was eight years old. Our parents had driven off to the nearby town of Beverley to do some shopping leaving me and my three brothers behind. I can't remember where Paul and Robin had gone but there was only me and my youngest brother Simon in the house. He would have been six at the time.
Some bottles of "Babycham" were sitting in the drinks cupboard. We probably didn't even know it was alcoholic. It was fizzy and sweet like non-alcoholic "pop". We removed the bottle tops and guzzled the "genuine champagne perry". I think we consumed four bottles - maybe six and when our parents returned we were giggling and swaying around the kitchen - as pissed as delegates at a Tory party conference. My mother often laughed about that scene and confided in me that she blamed herself for what had happened. That's why we weren't really scolded.
I am well aware that three regular "Yorkshire Pudding" visitors have lost loved ones to alcohol. It's not just something you read about in newspapers or witness in hard-hitting TV documentaries. It can creep stealthily into anybody's life and wreak havoc before the final heartbreak. The name on the bottle is "Harsh Reality".
I may be one of those three that you referred to in your last paragraph. It's coming up to 13 years in 6 weeks time since Greg died and it doesn't seem to get any easier to accept or explain. Like you, I grew up in a household where my parents seldom drank apart from Christmas time - a few babychams and snowballs and that was it until the next Christmas. Personally I can take alcohol or leave it.ReplyDelete
Yes you are one of those three ADDY. The painfulness of your experience should act as a lesson to others. Amazing that it is thirteen years since Greg died.Delete
My mother almost never drank, although I did see her drunk once, when I was sixteen. She was eating fruit, which she loved, that had been soaked in vodka. She had fun. My father drank the occasional beer but I only saw him drunk a few times in my life and he was very quiet when drunk.ReplyDelete
You know from reading my blog how much alcohol has affected me and my family. I have a very tense relationship with it, even reading about you drinking four pints bothers me. I am like a gunshy dog, no use to hunters. Drinking is the gunshot for me.
Compared with years gone by the occasional four pint session is a vast improvement.Delete
My brother-in-law was killed in a road accident because of somebody else speeding and drinking. His children grew up fatherless and their mother became pretty much unfunctional due to anxiety and depression.ReplyDelete
As a boy my grandfather had to pick up his father from the pub, on a horse, drunk as a skunk. The home scene was not nice either and so my grandfather decided to never touch a drop. As It turns out I come from two families of tee-ttalers and I see no reason to change that.
Alcohol is a scourge in so many ways. It's cancer causing properties are mostly forgotten, too
You are right. There is no reason to change that for nowadays we are far more aware of the harm that alcohol can cause.Delete
Well said. Addiction is the devil in the details. Today, I think younger people drink far too much.ReplyDelete
Remarkably here in UK the hidden drink problem is actually people in 50's and 60's - enough money to drink regularly, drink at home, drink with meals - drink without meals. Among our children and grandchildren we are seeing a lot less drinking than we did in our youths - and we weren't excessive (but regular)Delete
For drinkers it is good to have alcohol-free days like the one I have just had.Delete
It's a difficult addiction to handle because it's so accessible and acceptable to drink, even for people who perhaps shouldn't.ReplyDelete
It has always seemed strange to me that marijuana is illegal here but alcohol is okay.Delete
I like an occasional one or two amber ales but otherwise stay away from the Demon Drink, having lost a brother and a cousin to it. I had some delicious beer when I was in Scotland and noticed that several of them had very low alcohol content. I don't know if that's typical or not. Here some people drink IPAs or Double IPAs with a percentage of 8 or 9%. I couldn't even manage one of those!ReplyDelete
Most of the beer I drink is 4%.Delete
That's low for here--most are 6% or higher. Anything over 6% makes me very, very silly--even just one of them.Delete
As Lucien Freud used to say:ReplyDelete
*Champagne for real friends, real pain for sham friends.*
Horrible story about the lad who fell in the snow and hit his head so close to home.
There is little public education about drinking wisely as they drink on the Continent.
*Tonight I'm going to get wasted* - the saddest words.
*Original Takes for Orson Welles Wine Commercial.*
*Babycham Christmas TV commercial 1986.*
*Dubonnet Red Commercial - early 1980s.*
My favourite vintage commercial on YouTube is for coffee.
*Nescafe - Sunrise (1988, UK).
The song : I Can See Clearly Now.
We were all in love with the girl.
*Tonight I'm going to get wasted*... yes very sad. Drink should be an aid to conversation or dancing or laughter, not an end in itself.Delete
*Cinzano Airline Advert - Joan Collins & Leonard Rossiter.*ReplyDelete
Ads like that made the consumption of alcohol seem okay, funny and endorsed by celebrities.Delete
*The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988) - A Rainy Night.* YouTube.ReplyDelete
The film was adapted from a novel by Joseph Roth a very great writer.
I'm imagining you and Simon barreling around in the kitchen barely able to stand upright. What a sight that must have been for your parents. I haven't lost anyone to alcohol, (unless I count my father's family who were all alcoholics according to my mother) but alcohol did help to ruin both of my marriages.ReplyDelete
Alcohol spoils many relationships that might otherwise have blossomed.Delete
A very serious topic, Neil. Thank you for addressing it. As you know, my late husband was a binge alcoholic (but his early and sudden death was not alcohol-related). Also, I grew up next door to a family where the father of our two best friends (sisters like the two of us) was an acoholic, and an aggressive one at that, a classic wife-beater.ReplyDelete
My granddad was an alcoholic, too, and so was his son (my uncle); these two were of the quiet type. My granddad downed a bottle of (cheap) wine every night and then simply went to bed.
Addiction comes in many forms, and they are all distructive. I understood a lot more about it when I read "Craving", a book I have reviewed on my blog some years ago:
You also know from my blog that O.K. and I love wine, sparkling wine and the occasional G&T. I used to be quite into vodka-based cocktails, but as I can't drink much before it gets too much, I need to choose carefully - if it's wine with a meal, then that's it; if I want a cocktail, I won't have anything else.
I can not drink the heavy stuff on its own, such as whisky, vodka or rum - I simply don't like it. And as for beer, I am not really keen on that, either - with the exception of a well chilled shandy at the end or in the middle of a long walk or hike in the summer.
Also, I have made it a firm principle of mine to never drink on my own. It does not even cross my mind to open a bottle of wine for myself, and so it is not hard to stick to that rule. Mostly, all my drinking happens on weekend nights, and it is usually so tame a more serious drinker would laugh.
I am not laughing, though. I like it because I can control what and how much I drink, but I am very aware of how easily one can slide down that slippery path.
An honest self-assessment and thank you for sharing it.Delete
Because my father drank a lot when I was young, I vowed I would never drink. That did not work. I and my four siblings all drink too much, my sister less than her brothers. All siblings have lost the driving licences after being caught driving over the alcohol limit, but not me. I had to be 0.00 for work early in the morning and R drives if we go out at night and I have a drink. I have driven at times at night so R could have a decent drink, but then he doesn't, so what is the point? Retirement is a little problematic as I don't have to be 0.00 in the morning.ReplyDelete
I've seen some terrible things in my family by people drinking too much, right from when I was young. My father came from a working class family who drank. My mother came from a teetotal family on the land who didn't. It was not a good mix and Mother's family were snooty about my father's family, although his mother, The Bolter, as an intellectual artistic type was not acceptable either.
Alcohol has touched your life in different ways. Thanks for your honesty Andrew.Delete
Although my dad died from lung cancer he was also suffering from vascular dementia caused by his excessive alcohol consumption over the years following my mum's desertion. My sister and I watched his steady decline, unable to stop him from drinking and it was very distressing to see the person he became at the end.ReplyDelete
However, I admit to enjoying a glass or two of wine with my evening meal and as you have no doubt noticed from my blog I am not afraid to post about it.
Make of that what you will.
Okay I will make of that what I will... an oil tanker filed with wine.Delete
No, not a drinker at all - it doesn't appeal to me. In the past, the occasional glass of wine, usually half drunk, and that's about it. My favourite "tipple" is freshly squeezed orange juice- with no ice!ReplyDelete
My parents were not regular drinkers either, except moderately on special occasions. There was always drink in the house - kept in a cupboard in the laundry room. My mother enjoyed an Advocaat or two at Christmas, usually heavily diluted with lemonade. Can't recall anyone in the immediate family ever being even slightly "under the influence"!
My two alcohol related pet hates are the young girls who drink until they're legless, and those who drink to excess and become verbally abusive because they can't accept that a moderate drinker doesn't want to get as drunk as they are.
Thank you for your honest contribution Carol.Delete
Funnily enough as children we were introduced to alcohol. Both my brother and I had tiny tankards in which we had something sweet to drink on Sunday. Did it stop me from a drinking habit later on in life? Or is it my system that just can't take it. The rowdiness you see on Friday nights from young people in some of our cities is gross and they will eventually end up with liver failure.ReplyDelete
My Paul who died of liver failure, had his pint most days, but one picture I will always treasure is of him sitting on the bench in the garden on a summer's evening, slowly drinking his pint and being totally happy with his life. Life is a gamble.
You put it simply but it is very true... Life is indeed a gamble.Delete
I haven't been in a pub since October on holiday. Mainly because I have no way of getting home and it's far too expensive so I drink supermarket bought beer at home. I would never have met my wife if it wasn't for Dutch courage and most night time social places are bars. It would be strange to go out and just drink coffee.ReplyDelete
Nowadays a lot of the social usefulness of pubs has switched to coffee bars that just weren't there when I was young.Delete
I've been fortunate enough to not have alcohol-related problems in my family. My dad and stepmother had a cocktail and wine with dinner pretty much every night -- my stepsister once quipped that they were "functional alcoholics" -- but they enjoyed it and it never interfered with their (or our) lives. My mom never drank much at all. I like a glass of wine at night and the occasional martini. It's all about moderation, right? (Although I read a news story recently that said pretty much any amount of alcohol has negative health effects.)ReplyDelete
I agree with your "right?" after "moderation".Delete
Before it kills you, there are second chances. My husband is a living example of success and a good life after alcohol.ReplyDelete
You are right. Change is possible if you are not addicted.Delete
First of all- your parents left you and your six year old brother alone in the house? Well, I guess that wasn't so odd then.ReplyDelete
My father was a terrible alcoholic. He'd go off for a week or more on a bender at a time. When my mother left him, there was never alcohol in our house after that.
There is, however, in our house.
At that time my oldest brother Paul was fourteen and theoretically old enough to babysit his younger siblings.Delete
I have been amazed at the number of my ancestors who were outspoken prohibitionists judging by their letters in the newspapers. I suppose that is why neither of my parents drink and the only one I ever remember drinking was my grandfather who had one beer, a can of the cheapest he could find, per day with his evening meal. Once when I of age, he offered me one of those beers to go with the meal and I accepted. It was god awful stuff.ReplyDelete
I went through a period of time in my late 20's when I was off on my own, had lots of friends and money to burn when I drank quite a bit. Fortunately I was and still am a take it or leave it kind of person with alcohol. I bought a 12 pack for my 30th class reunion awhile back and brought all 12 cans back. There are still 11 of them there, my wife having had one on a lark.
Circumstances differ and we all have different relationships with alcohol.Delete
Health Canada just made an announcement suggesting Canadians limit their alcohol consumption to "two drinks" per week. The following is a video of one Canadian man's reaction to the announcement. It just went viral.ReplyDelete
For a year now, I've pretty much limited wine drinking to special events. I will also have a couple of beer when my husband and I go out to the pub, (once or twice a week.) I've become used to limiting myself now but at first I found the absence of red wine at a meal depressing.
You seem to be keeping it all under good control. You must be a very sensible woman Melinda!Delete
I quit drinking back in the 1990s as I was married to an alcoholic and I wanted him to quit drinking (he did not back then). I like to say I saved his life by divorcing him after 33 years of marriage as then he could join AA and quit for his own good. If he had quit while we were married, he would have considered it "me winning the alcohol argument" and that wasn't going to happen. Once divorced, he quit to save his own health and has stayed sober since.ReplyDelete
Yours would not be the only broken marriage in which alcohol played a very significant role.Delete
I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a family context where no one drank alcohol. My parents never had any in the house. My mum came from a teetotaler family, and none was ever served at other close relatives' houses we visited either. As for myself, in my teens and youth I had most of my friends in a church context where we had a lot of fun without it. In spite of that, I still also came across enough people with serious alcohol-related problems. Never felt attracted to it at all for my own part.ReplyDelete
I honestly cannot say you missed anything DT. It's probably best not to have any alcohol in your life though I have had a lot of fun and companionship in English pubs.Delete
I don't have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. I have a couple while I am making dinner three or four times in the week. With dinner, I have water.ReplyDelete
I prefer cold water with food though we always crack open a bottle of wine for Sunday dinner.Delete