Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Please drink responsibly? Many of us already do, thank you very much!

Ah, the New Year. The calm after the storm, or should that be the slump after the storm? Storm, at least, is the right word, as there always seems to be a certain amount of recovery required. Well, it is assumed that recovery is required, with the finger steadily aimed at us, the young.

It is a special time of year, bringing a sense of hope with the newness of it all, as well as an excuse to celebrate to incapacity. I say excuse; it’s almost a requirement as anything else will simply not do.

I have to make an admission, which may seem like a strange one for a woman my age, so brace yourself but, I barely drink. I can’t say that I’m teetotal, but I’m much closer to that than to the habits of those I hear screaming incoherently as they stagger along my street at three in the morning. I do drink, but not to excess and not that regularly.

If that is the way you choose to celebrate, more power to you. However, that shouldn’t result in the assumption that all of us will do the same. I resent it. In the week before Christmas, at an event I attend regularly, I was told that I didn’t have to come in the following week. Not because the facility was closed, but because it was assumed that I would be the worse for wear. The phrase “on the sauce” was actually used.

I did briefly wonder whether there was something else about me that gives the impression that I’m an irresponsible lush – maybe people just think that I need a drink – but I quickly rubbished that idea. It’s just what’s expected from the young during the festive period. It starts at Christmas and lasts until well into the New Year. We’re all supposed to be drinking on a constant basis in a period when asking for a soft drink earns you a look usually reserved for recently crash-landed aliens.

Alcohol makes me talk nonsense and feel sleepy. I recall a particular occasion in my younger days when I was involved in a full-blown, alcohol-inspired debate about the type of fabrics that shrink and/or stretch in the washing machine – no use, or interest, to anyone.

Of course, the effects wear off, but that just leaves me feeling as though I have spent the night swallowing rocks and stuffing cotton wool into every orifice in my head. So forgive me if I want to avoid it, but I’m perfectly capable of having a good time with little or no alcohol.

This is especially handy when you recognise that the world continues to turn and things still need to be done; things that are infinitely easier when you don’t have to hold your head for fear of it floating away or falling off, or praying to the porcelain Gods.

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions seems to me to be rooted in the need to detox after all the revelry. I can’t help thinking life would be so much easier if people didn’t assume that we are all in the same position of needing hangover cures and calling in sick. And, from what I can see, this tendency is certainly not confined to the young – whether grumpy or not. Read more by Shermaine.