I keep hearing reports about someone I used to know. Phrases like, “they were sozzled as usual” and “They aren’t looking too clever.” pop up repeatedly. I have very little time for drinkers, or for takers of any other drugs either. I regard it all as something a bit silly that daft kids do, that we hope they will grow out of. I’m no saint and I’ve done the odd silly thing in my past but I regard mental clarity as something precious that I wish to hang on too.
There is absolutely nothing good about drinking and it fails at everything it is purported to help with. If you need to be drunk to enjoy a social event, it’s not worth going to. It has the potential for clouding judgement about people and if someone seems more appealing only when you’ve had a few, that ain’t good. Drugs like ecstasy are really bad for this too as they can make you have warm, fuzzy feelings about the nastiest of people, chemically bonding you to the most horrible of characters.
The ritual behind all these things can be just as appealing as the thing itself and the idea with drugs that you are doing something ‘naughty’ or somehow ‘cool’. I know of so many people in their forties and fifties still doing drugs, convincing themselves that they are down with the kids in some way, it’s just plain embarrassing.
It’s the ubiquitous nature of alcohol that I find particularly unpleasant, from the entire culture of snob value around certain wines and whiskies to the associations with romance , friendship and socialising that is engrained deep in so many films and television programmes. The notion that the pubs are the major meeting point in every British soap opera reinforces the normality of consistently drinking alcohol.
Ironically, one of my favourite films revolves around a drunkard, the grimness of Withnail & I captures perfectly the awfulness of drinking. A deeper irony still is that arguably the best drunkard on film is played by someone who doesn’t drink as he’s violently alergic to alcohol.
Even hangovers have a special get out clause compared to other drug come downs or withdrawal symptoms and garner disproportionate amounts of sympathy compared to other mind altering substances.
All this awfulness is ignored though as alcohol has a culturally and socially acceptable get out clause, regardless of the harm to the drinker and the horrors of domestic violence that it brings. It’s etched deep into society and isn’t going anywhere.
It’s sad when you see that someone has hit the skids and it is clearly starting to physically damage them. It’s sadder still when you hear the same stories from different people in different camps and it’s really awful when the first report back from a complete stranger on meeting them is “0h dear! Are they a bit of a boozer?”.
I’m just so glad I’m not.