ALCOHOL - THREE
My drink of preference is beer. I might have a glass of wine with Sunday dinner but mostly it's beer. In our drinks cabinet I have six bottles of whisky (Scottish) and whiskey (Irish). Four of them have never been opened. Months will pass by before I have another shot of that fiery liquid. Though I like it, I can live without it.
Nowadays I have at least three alcohol-free days in a normal week. During national pub closures in the time of COVID, there was a period of three months when I didn't have a single drop of alcohol. It just didn't appeal to me any more and I didn't miss it either.
I am glad that I have a more healthy relationship with alcohol than I did in my student days. This is partly down to my wife Shirley who arguably reined me in like a cowgirl training a wild bronco. Decades have passed since I last lost it under the influence of the demon drink. I hardly ever drink in the daytime and if I visit a pub at night, I will usually only go for the last hour knowing that if I went any earlier I would be tempted to exceed the three or four pints I usually guzzle.
Here's another alcohol story I want to share - about a woman of our acquaintance who was a senior academic nurse - working with nursing students in a university. She had done so well to get there.
Two years ago she attended a posh dinner dance in a pretty exclusive venue. She had donned her best gown and put on her new high heels. Like many people there, she had taken full advantage of the free bar and was more than a little tiddly. Holding a glass of fizzy wine, she began to descend a wide stone staircase but tripped on her heels and tumbled down those unforgiving steps, fracturing her skull and causing herself a serious brain injury.
At the age of sixty she now lives in a dementia unit, her personality disordered and it seems certain that she will never get back to being the successful professional woman that she once was. You might say that it was the high heels that did it but I have a feeling that if she had avoided alcoholic drinks that fateful night she would have coped with those heels just fine. It was the drink that did it.
This afternoon I went out to a pub with my old friend Bert. I hadn't seen him since before Christmas and as prearranged I drove him to "The Rising Sun" at Nether Green. A dozen draught beers were available at the bar - nearly all of them expertly brewed in Sheffield. Bert had three pints of "Daily Bread" but because I was driving I only had one pint and a coffee. We also had fish and chips with mushy peas for our lunch.
Bert is 87 and he's been drinking beer since he was a boy. It doesn't seem to have done him any harm. It was good to enjoy each other's company - helped by the ambience of a nice pub that has plentiful stocks of well-kept local beers. Happy afternoons like that are also part of the tale of alcohol consumption. It's not all about danger signs and watching the number of "units" you pour down your neck. It's also about companionship, community and relaxation.