Memory Lane or Gin Alley?

So foggy on the way to work this morning, and throughout the day on stretches of the M1. It was minus nine degrees at twenty to nine this morning. One of my intentions for my daily diary throughout January was to reflect on the role of alcohol in my life. A little trip down memory lane, but one has to be aware of the propensity for fog and ice.

Demonstrating Dart Throwing

I remember going to the pub at lunchtimes when I was in the sixth form at school, enjoying a couple of pints of cider and a game of darts. I had the nick-name of Zulu because of the powerfulness of my dart-throwing, but sadly this was not matched by the accuracy. Like many teenagers, I had to progress through the various stages of induction into the mysteries of alcohol. My parents were not drinkers, but I remember my grandfather enjoying a glass of Mackeson at home while playing cards. How much better my A level grades might have been if I had not fallen into bad habits, how different a course my life might have taken! In truth, I echo Edith Piaf – je ne regrette rien.

I think my journey was from sweet cider, to lager and lime, to lager, to bitter (a difficult step that required much practise and persistence) and then to stouts. Somewhere along the way I discovered the screwdriver – in Croydon pubs this was with vodka and neat orange squash rather than orange juice if I remember correctly. In the morning, it more often felt I had been hit with a hammer. In fact, I think my susceptibility to severe hangovers was my saving grace, it tended to put a limit of sorts on my drinking over the years, but it was certainly not an infallible safeguard.

It has not been a struggle to remain abstinent over the past 3 weeks – don’t forget the sponsorship for Cancer Research UK and the promise of embarrassing photos! – because there have been other periods in my life when I was drinking at much higher levels, but it feels that I am missing out on one of the pleasures in life. A glass of wine complements my evening meal, it is warm and comforting and lovely on the palette, and  contributes to a sense of communion, in a secular way.

Alcohol Info Shots # 12
Alcohol has in common with other sedatives the ability to induce State Dependent Learning. This is the phenomenon whereby something learnt while under the influence of alcohol will be recalled from emory best when the person is in the same state (i.e. under the influence of alcohol). 


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