The Demon Drink
Recently some very weighty medical voices have been stridently bellowing that we Irish have a drink problem and I must say, I have to agree with them. The problem is the ridiculous price of the stuff here.
You can't get a decent bottle of plonk now for under a tenner and that, to my mind, is extortion plain and simple. An acceptable table wine should be available at three yo-yo's or less and a good Merlot, which you might roll appreciatively around the palate, should be a tenner tops. In a moldy old Arab shop in Paris last year I got a peach of a bottle of red for a single euro and the owner was delighted with the sale too.
But of course, the high and mighty are not complaining about price because that is immaterial to their wallets. They spit out the word beer as if it were a corked wine and we all know these types wouldn't be seen dead having a pint. However, they reluctantly admit that a thimble of beer a month is inside safe levels of consumption. Fuck that for a game of soldiers. Where beer is concerned I subscribe to the notion that the first one has a taste of more off it and we all know that it is bad luck to put the cork back on the wine bottle.
Having said that however, I concede there are some who really do have a problem when it comes to drink. But my theory is that the problem exists already, whatever it is, and the addition of drink only fuels the problem to the surface. That thought brings me to the motivation to drink alcohol. My son in his early twenties tells me his age-group drink to get seriously pissed. They lace into shorts one after another even before they go out for the night. Something more exotic might even get smoked or snorted and by then they're in the mood to shout and dance, and apparently, it is still only 7.00pm.
The word intoxication comes from the latin 'toxicare' or toxic. Alcohol in its pure form is toxic and too much gives you toxic poisoning. If you've ever had a hangover then you know what I mean. You've poisoned your blood stream. But prior to poisoning you have the period of losing control of your faculties or behaviour. That is the reason, I believe, why some people merely drink to get drunk. There is a core unhappiness in the psyche that needs to be smothered temporarily. It is an escape mechanism used to avoid a pain felt when sober. That pain might be a low self-worth, a lack of confidence or something else entirely. The drink is only the tool of escapism.
I don't know about you but I actually like the taste of beer and wine, (in separate glasses naturally). Recently I discovered a draught beer from a micro-brewery here in Cork called "Friar Weiss," and it is a dream beer. You savour every drop rather than hosing it down the hatch. The place that sells it does a sandwich that tastes of everything you like and put the two of them together and the view of the ocean from their back windows and you have a recipe to sit and chat pleasantly for an afternoon.
I tried tequila twice and the second time I went rubber-numb from the waist down and had to be carried out. The top half of me was coherently telling jokes at the time I tried to stand up and that was just plain weird. I suspect that Tequila makes your ankles pissed. But I'll chance a whiskey in an Irish coffee after dinner and I used to like red rum on cold days. However the feeling of dizzy-drunk is repulsive to me and that leads me to the idea of drunk, what it is and why it is attractive.
We have lots of names for it because drunk is not a single state or thing. There are degrees of drunk from mild buzz right through to unconscious and everything in between. An old friend visits my local pub with me once a month and for five hours and over many pints, we make sense of our lives together. It is talking only with no TV or radio or anything else to interrupt the communication of ideas and thoughts. It is therapy for both and the alcohol and the pub facilitates it.
We forget too that a public house is the opposite of a private house. You wouldn't meet five or six of your mates in your own front room unless you live in the snowy wastes of Canada and the nearest pub is a hundred miles away. The pub in Ireland is an institution for meeting and socializing with friends. It is not what we are but a reflection of what we like. The pub comforts us and the beer loosens us. We become convivial and happy even if it is only for a short while. We all have responsibilities and worries and they'll still be there in the morning regardless. We know that, but what we're saying is, will you just fuck off for a couple of hours and leave me alone to enjoy myself because I don't get out half enough. And while I'm at it, what's it to you?
The way the medical profession has begun lecturing us from their high moral ground about everything we do is grating on the nerves. Knowing we don't have much money and a night out must be planned and budgeted for, they now demand that Government put the price of a few pints beyond us. What the average doctor charges for five minutes in his or her clinic would give me two good nights out in any week.
So my conclusion is that the drink problem in Ireland is due to Doctors. They'd drive you to drink!!