I’ve been out to the pub on a Friday night twice already this year.
So what, you might ask. Well, that’s probably twice as much as I did in the whole of 2011.
I have always classed myself as a social drinker, but I am now starting to reassess that status. I don’t think I drink nearly enough to be classified as a social drinker any longer.
On both of those Friday nights out I had three pints and it felt like a lot.
There are various reasons for my abstention. Rachel rarely drinks these days due to her illness and I’ve chosen to join her in having a nice cuppa or soft drink rather than a nice pint or glass of wine. Once you get out of the habit of drinking, popping out to the pub does not hold too muich of an appeal.
Another reason is I actively dislike being in crowded town centre pubs these days. As I mentioned recently, I used to be a regular pub-goer in my late teens and throughout my 20s but these days it holds little appeal – although I have to admit Lichfield is blessed with some good old-fashioned pubs these days, places to drink, chat and enjoy being out.
This lack of alcohol consumption and pub-going makes the likes of Coppers, C4’s excellent warts and all documentary series following police officers, even more sobering. Watching so-called “reasonable and sensible” people getting in trouble after a few drinks – and particularly their response to getting into bother with the law – is not exactly entertaining, more educational.
It also makes this Panorama special with ex-alcoholic Alistair Campbell equally fascinating. In the programme he examines the British middle class’s troubled relationship with alcohol and his own long and complicated history with drink.
He raises a very interesting point – it isn’t the binge drinking 20-somethings in pubs we should focus all our attention on, government campaigns must also target the home-based drinkers. The Office for National Statistics tells us that the professional classes are now the most frequent drinkers in the country and that 41% of professional men drink more than the recommended daily limit of three to four units at least once a week. Women are also drinking much more than they used to, with alcoholic liver disease now split evenly between the sexes.
In other words, the social drinkers should be as much of a cause for concern as the bingers.
From where I sit, with my cup of coffee or glass of squash in hand, he’s absolutely right.
Our relationship with alcohol has gone askew, we need to get it back to a more balanced level.
I’m off to watch the rugby in Cardiff in a couple of weeks time. I won’t be joining the queues outside the pubs at 9am on Saturday morning though.
I’d like to remember the match I’m going to watch. So make mine a small one, it is all I really need.