I read an article in Stylist this week entitled “Is drinking the secret of great friendship?“. I have to say, it irritated me. The general gist is this: young woman is a fairly heavy drinker (alcoholic drinks not soft, obviously). She is not able to socialise with her oldest friends without alcohol. She find her relationship with her Partner is better when they have both had something to drink. She feels her level of drinking is “expected” in her line of work, but she’s in control. She finds it odd and uncomfortable to be ‘out’ with people who don’t drink, unless they have a proper reason. She tries to go tee-total for four weeks…and breaks 3 days before she completes her own challenge.
For me, this article sums up a common cultural trait about Britain which I really don’t like. Now I don’t want to cast any judgment on this woman in particular, not least because I suspect some slight ‘journalese’. But, I am not a big drinker and when I go to the pub, it’s quite usual for me to have a soft drink. There is no medical reason for that; No religious reason. I can go for weeks without having an alcoholic drink. Of course, I have those tough days when I really fancy a glass of wine. But, as previously mentioned in other blog posts, I generally want a cuppa! I also find sitting in the pub for extended periods quite dull unless the conversation is quite stimulating and there are decent snacks (people use their ‘calorie’ intake knocking back a pint, but I can enjoy some nachos – much better ‘calorie’ value in my view!). Unfortunately, the conversation deteriorates as the alochol intake rises.
I have always felt Brits have an interesting relationship with alcohol. Drinking has become a social crutch. To quote Ms Foster from her Stylist article: “Alcohol is, after all, a great leveller.”. I agree, one to two drinks can ‘level’, relaxing people a bit and reducing their inhibitions slightly. Keep that drink count going up though and I’m not sure levelling is the right word. Alcohol changes people and not often in a positive way.
I’m not not saying drinking is inherently bad – as with everything, it has it’s place. But, I do feel that if one really struggles to get through a month without drinking (and cannot stand-up to some mild peer pressure in the pub) then there is some under-lying problem. Being able to go out to the pub or clubbing without having drunk anything just means you are comfortable within yourself. Perhaps that is the real problem – a lot Brits just don’t like to get to know themselves. However, I will remain more than happy to catch-up with my friends over afternoon tea (tea and scone – how is that not a wonderful thing?!), although we’ll have break out the vino when we fancy it.
What is most interesting is reading some of the comments on the article – a clear split of opinion!