I was talking to a journalist yesterday about the Soberistas project and she asked me the following question; “What is the difference between the way you used to drink, and the way I drink (i.e. having a gin and tonic in the evening to relax – just the one, drinking responsibly?).”
I told her that when I used to drink I never opened a bottle of wine without knowing that I would finish it, I always did a recce upon arriving at an event in order to establish how much booze would be made available to me, and the phrase ‘drinking responsibly’ – well that was left wide open to my interpretation. I did a lot of denial back then; I had a few tricks up my addict’s sleeve which I called upon to cushion the knowledge that my alcohol intake had reached epic proportions.
Drinking responsibly was something that middle class people did. If I bought my wine from Waitrose and it was a ten quid bottle of Chablis or a twenty quid bottle of Barolo, that was drinking responsibly. Forget the fact that I drank two or three of them, amounting to roughly three times my weekly safe limit in one night. When I carefully placed my rinsed bottles in to my Heal’s recycling bin, that was drinking responsibly. Dropping those bottles off at the Waitrose recycling bin was drinking responsibly. Meeting friends for a glass of fizz in the nice Italian bar down the road, sitting outside in the sun all dressed up and feeling sophisticated, that was drinking responsibly. And drinking a juicy Rioja with a steaming bowl of pasta, candlelit table, romance all around – that was drinking responsibly.
Human powers of denial are tenacious, as was my inability to recognise that booze, dressed up however, is booze. With each tenner I spent in Waitrose’s wine section (can I just point out that I love Waitrose and John Lewis, really I do. Definitely my supermarket/department store of choice – this is purely to illustrate my point that I was truly gifted at kidding myself for a fifth of a century with regards to my alcohol addiction), I was slowly poisoning myself. Further to my point that I love the John Lewis partnership, I do still enjoy parting with my money in their stores, but now it goes on food, perfume, nice vases, cushions, lovely clothes and pleasing bath products.
Anyway – is your drinking problematic? Are you a responsible drinker or an irresponsible drinker? As an aside, when you type the word ‘responsibly‘ in to Google, the top suggestions that appear are ‘beer,’ ‘vodka’ and ‘brewery’….Interesting.
To help us at Soberistas in our quest to determine how many people are ‘irresponsible’ drinkers (I say this with tongue firmly in cheek) please would you be so kind as to fill in our little survey? And even better, if you could pass it on to anyone who you think might also fill it in for us, that would be wonderful. We are passionate about turning the logic around that tells us a small amount of this drug we call alcohol is good, but if you drink a little bit more than that, it’s bad, as is the person who drinks it. So please help. Thank you.