My God, I am excited to write this article.
I have been searching for a reason to complain about alcohol for a long, long time. Hating alcohol is about as unpopular as puppy genocide. If you say it out loud, people look at you funny. Whispers and rumours start; “that Patterson fella has gone a bit soft hasn’t he? Weirdo”.
Particularly in Ireland where I genuinely believe it would be easier to express Neo-Nazi political leanings or advocate for a King Herod style infanticide than it would be to be an out-of-the-closet teetotaller.
Today, on the feast of St. Stephen, my prayers have been answered. Over Bethlehem, a star has appeared. Three Wise Men are seeking an infant — admittedly, a bit weird that one when you write it down without context.
Looking at my Facebook messages, behold, I find the excuse I needed to pen this withering criticism. A message said:
“Terrible Prosecco Hangover. Another victim of booze.*
Alcohol should be re-designated as a Class A banned substance”
*For purposes of curation, I have omitted the expletives.
Well, I laughed and laughed. I felt his pain. I have been there many times.
Over the lockdown period, I have discovered that I have a kindred spirit in alcohol apathy. We have had discussions about the total insanity of alcohol in the past. Thomas and I have been friends for about a dozen years now. We met at University and worked together for a while in one of those student jobs that aren’t taken very seriously. I used to bring tins of cider with me for my evening shift, that kind of thing.
In the years that we have been friends, including around 3 living together, I honestly think we have shared a drink on single figure occasions. I must confess, however, that we both enjoyed the Devil’s Lettuce in our youth.
My own road-to-Damascus conversion arrived about three years ago. A heavy New Year’s Eve on the town with my pals. You know the drill, the beer no longer works after around 9 pm, then it’s shots and shorts. A box of fags and a kebab, that kind of night.
I woke up on New Years Day and my house looked like Genghis Khan had passed through it. There were enough empty bottles to fill Old Trafford with, the electric and heat had both expired overnight. There was a Fox in the living room and a note from the neighbours had been pushed through the door. Two of my friends were asleep in my car, in someone else’s driveway. There was a dent in the bumper as thick as a Hippo’s kneecap. My Whatsapp and DM records were a harrowing tale of loneliness, lust and reckless chatter.
What a way to start a New Year. This was truly an epoch-defining hangover. I would have welcome death like a lost Brother, at this stage. Four long days of suffering ensued; panic attacks, nausea, dehydration and an inability to focus on anything else.
My online banking app yielded yet more bad news. Buying round for 6 people means £80 a pop on NYE, the night cost half-a-thousand pounds. Absolutely insane.
As I lay in bed, in the foetal position, praying for mercy (I hedged my bets and tried multiple Gods, just in case), I resolved that this could not go on. It was not sustainable.
A flick through the filtered, happy faces of Instagram did little to lighten my mood as I made a Pot Noodle in the microwave.
Although I must confess, this was the start of my conversion, I did relapse once every few months in the next few years. Generally on holidays. The Grim Reaper would return to me on those occasions, carrying a noose and a hangover, gleefully reminding me of the foolishness of my transgression.
Having had time to reflect on this, I firmly believe that our country would be healthier, happier and wealthier were we to return to prohibition times. Yes, the moonshine liqueur merchants will return and profit handsomely on the black market — but it will herald the end of the cultural reliance with which we are now firmly ensconced.
How many hours of productivity would be reclaimed from hangovers?
How many pounds richer would we all be?
How much healthier would be as a Nation — physically and mentally?
These are the questions that I want answers to.
In the interests of balance, I will present the case for the defence. Alcohol has it’s uses as a social lubricant; many of my fondest memories include ludicrous tales off debauchery with strangers. It loosens our natural inhibitions. Alcohol offers a temporary suspension of reality which is very pleasant.
However, forming a cost-benefit matrix in my head; is the three hours of relaxed numbness worth the full day of pain? Are the alcohol dependent relationships really worth having?
There is a lot to be said for moderation, granted, but try telling me to go home after 4 pints. I simply will not have it.
With all that in mind, I hereby begin my petition for the reclassification of alcohol alongside other staples of the A-Class such as Heroine. If you feel like joining me, leave a comment.
Over and Out,
Travelling to Damascus