Thursday, February 19, 2009

today : Drinkin' Again

I recently took up drinking after a break of about fifteen or sixteen years. There was no single reason why I gave up, and when I say 'gave up' I don't mean I was on some temperance pledge kick or became a Muslim or embraced a particular regime of asceticism and abstinence. I just stopped going out drinking (or staying in drinking) as an end in itself. This doesn't mean that I remained teetotal either, but for a lot of years you could count the alcoholic drinks I had per year on your fingers. I still enjoyed a glass of champagne or a nip of malt, I still occasionally demolished a cool beer on a hot day or sipped a decent glass of wine with a meal. It's just that I stuck to one, and mostly stuck to none.

But the other week I just felt the urge to have a beer, so went out to buy some. It hit the spot big time, so I had another. And then I started having one regularly during the evening. Sometimes I have two. The other day I mixed myself a G&T. Next time I'm out at an appropriate place, I fancy I might order a Vodka Martini. Who knows where it will end?

I think what happened 15 or 16 years ago was that I wasn't drinking properly. It was pretty much lager lager lager - which is, on the whole, a terrible alcoholic genre. And even though I wasn't a beer monster like many of my pals, I tended to just one or two too many, enough to make the subsequent suffering not really worth it.

Which brings me to the subject of drunks. Almost all drunks are awful, dysfunctional and unpleasant to be around. Most drunks show us at our worst and most pathetic. It's hard to admire a drunk.

But in the case of Shoichi Nakagawa I think I can find it in my heart to forgive. As the finance minister of a major economy that has just announced a potential 12% loss of GDP, in a global climate where nobody knows what is going on and what will happen next, I can fully understand that Mr Nakagawa might have felt like the odd Sake or a Japanese Slipper or two.

In fact, getting completely Klangered seems like rather a sensible option for a finance minister in 2009. So Mr Nakagawa, tomorrow evening I shall be raising a glass to you.

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