Sunday, October 28, 2007


I am TT in this country. Most people who know me are very good about it and very few of them even ask me to break that taboo. There's the odd occasion with new people when there has to be some explanation, but in general it's OK.
So the other day we were at a friend's house, and I was offered a soft drink as usual.
One of the other guests siddled up to me ( someone I don't know) and said
" Ah, doctor's orders eh?"
" No" I explained, " I just don't drink in this country."
" Seriously?"
" Yes, seriously". He appeared somewhat shocked, and continued to drink 2 to 1 for everybody else.
After a while, he started picking up a bottle and walking round, topping up other guests - and himself. He was clearly enjoying himself.
He got to me.
" You'll have a wee glass of wine, surely."
" No thank you," I said somewhat coldly, " I told you - I don't drink in this country."
" Oh go on - be a man!"
Now I really really hate that. As I have yet to have the operation, I can assure you that I remain, as we speak, of the male persuasion.
Fortunately the host was hovering, because he knows I can get very abusive and rude to drunk fools who annoy me ( actually, to anyone who annoys me, but that's the grumpy old man syndrome) and grabbed the bottle and pulled the moron away.
Well, fair enough. It didn't spoil my evening - I wasn't enjoying it much anyway, I'm not good at talking drivel with a room full of dead people - but it did make me think about alcohol once more.
It is a very dangerous thing. It clearly has a large proportion of the youth of this country in its grip, not to mention many others. The problem is it has become relatively so cheap. When I was at University, I could stretch to the odd pint of beer or lager, or even a bottle or two of plonk, but shorts and bottles of spirits were quite definitely out of my reach. My nephew, now 15, regularly goes to parties where his peers have bought bottles of vodka. At that age, apart from the fact I wasn't especially bothered with alcohol, I had better things to spend my money on.
My father had a rule. From when I was 16, any of my friends who came to the house could have a glass of wine or a beer - one or the other, and only one. Under 21 that was the rule. Anyone, even a 20 year old, asking for a gin and tonic or a whisky was firmly told no. Over 21, not a problem. But it was in the open. Noone had to hide it and, interestingly, my friend's parents round about adopted the same rule to a greater or lesser extent. Of course, in those days, parents actually took responsibility for their children in a way that is largely non-existent now.
In my own case, I have never had to make the point. Although the youngest Ms. Lear does like a drink, it doesn't appear to be a big problem - the other two hardly bother.
Anyone who comes to the house can have whatever they want and as much as they want.
But if at some point they refuse a top up, they do NOT get offered any more.People may have good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with them.
Better leading not into temptation.

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