Get the drinks in, Rick

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS | OPINION - He­len Brown

It will come as no sur­prise to any­one who knows me to find that, at this late stage in life, I have dis­cov­ered a new soul­mate, some­one on the same wave­length, a per­son whose out­look might just, like mine, be seen through rose-coloured glasses. And that’s rose with an ac­cent. And glasses, very def­i­nitely, plu­ral.

So all hail Dr Kari Poikalainen, for­merly of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (and there­fore wor­thy of the ti­tle of Dr WHO) who has taken to print to tell us that drink­ing as much as a bot­tle of wine a day is go­ing to do us no harm what­so­ever. It is, in fact, health­ier than be­ing tee-to­tal and the good doc­tor makes a point of em­pha­sis­ing that en­joy­ing a bev or six not only of­fers “health ben­e­fits” but also that it “tastes good and helps you to en­joy life”.

Re­sult! It also begs the ques­tion – given that his of­fi­cial ti­tle was “WHO al­co­hol ex­pert” – as to why th­ese job op­por­tu­ni­ties were never on of­fer when I fetched up for a life-chang­ing chat with my school ca­reers ad­viser? How dif­fer­ent life could have been, if only…

The lovely Dr Kari has writ­ten a book about what he calls Per­fect Drink­ing – and trust me, if I don’t know what that is, hav­ing prac­tised enough over sev­eral decades of self-in­dul­gence, I don’t know who does. It’s right at the top of my list for the next book club sug­ges­tion; par­tic­u­larly apt, as said club holds its meet­ings in a cock­tail bar.

Mind you, if I haven’t per­fected my drink­ing tech­nique by this ad­vanced age, I fear I never shall. Not that that will stop me at­tempt­ing to con­tinue to achieve per­fec­tion, but there you go. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, as the sainted Rick Ast­ley once de­claimed. Although in the in­ter­ests of bal­ance, I feel I must point out that it is un­der­lined that drink­ing more than 13 units a day is, or can be, harm­ful. Un­lucky for some…

In the way that co­in­ci­dence of­ten does seem, well, deeply co­in­ci­den­tal, there is, also, a bit of a pat­tern emerg­ing here. I re­cently found a card for my mother’s 90th birth­day (she rarely says no to a glass of sauvi­gnon blanc, ei­ther, which tells you some­thing about a healthy long life) bear­ing the sage words: “At your age, it’s time to do ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion. In­clud­ing mod­er­a­tion.”

I’m way ahead of you, doc…

Men’s work

I’m not a great afi­cionado of Face­book and other such ex­am­ples of con­tem­po­rary com­mu­ni­ca­tion but I do find my­self look­ing at it oc­ca­sion­ally, chiefly to catch a glimpse of pho­to­graphs of fam­ily and friends that oth­er­wise might pass me by. Now and then, too, some­one I ei­ther know, or who knows some­one I know (what used to be called “friends of friends” be­fore the days of all-per­va­sive so­cial me­dia) posts some­thing that fairly cap­tures my jit­tery and in­creas­ingly short-tem­pered at­ten­tion.

I saw one such post this week when an im­age ap­peared of a room­ful of mid­dle-aged and el­derly, ex­pen­sively be­suited and ob­vi­ously well-to-do men. Th­ese were, it would seem, politi­cians of var­i­ous, dif­fer­ent stripes, sit­ting in judge­ment on women’s health is­sues (mainly to do with preg­nancy, con­tra­cep­tion and ma­ter­nity ser­vices pro­vi­sion) in the good old US of A. Iron­i­cally (although I ac­tu­ally think this im­age and its far-from-hid­den mean­ing went far beyond any­thing that could rea­son­ably be de­scribed as irony), there were no women in the pic­ture. Or ob­vi­ously, by ex­ten­sion, in­volved in the re­lated de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

Gen­der aside, although such a stance is equally ob­vi­ously im­pos­si­ble in such cir­cum­stances, it just struck me some­how that, if th­ese self-same gen­tle­men were pre­pared to in­ter­fere as strongly, di­rectly and with as much ap­par­ent moral out­rage about mat­ters of life and death, in gun con­trol is­sues as they are in mat­ters per­tain­ing to dic­tat­ing terms for women’s re­pro­duc­tive rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, we might all be a whole lot bet­ter off.

Sym­pa­thy and em­pa­thy

And here was I think­ing that I was the only sad, old sap who failed to get a grip when con­fronted by a pet pass­ing away.

I’ve had more re­sponse (and good, com­pli­men­tary and sym­pa­thetic re­sponse) to last week’s piece about be­reave­ment and the way hu­mans re­act to the loss of other hu­mans and an­i­mals than I have had to most other things I’ve writ­ten about over all the years I’ve been foist­ing my thoughts and opin­ions on you un­sus­pect­ing yet deeply pa­tient read­ers.

Which only goes to prove that, re­gard­less of how iso­lated and sep­a­rated from the rest of the world we might feel at times of huge stress and un­hap­pi­ness, there is great com­fort to be had in re­al­is­ing that, af­ter all, most other peo­ple know, recog­nise and sym­pa­thise with where we are and how we feel at those times.

And that we are never, even if we don’t quite know where to look and are of­ten un­sure about how to ex­press what we’re go­ing through, quite alone.

“If I haven’t per­fected my drink­ing tech­nique by this ad­vanced age, I fear I never shall

“Never gonna give you up”... and now, thanks to Dr Kari Poikalainen’s wise words on drink­ing, I don’t have to.

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