Tuesday, 1 July 2014

In praise of good drinking


Very much going against today’s trend, Matt Heath comes not to bury good drinking, but to praise it. He has no time for campaigners who think a sniff of booze turns Kiwis into alcoholics and criminals.

Like most Kiwis I enjoy a drink. In fact, I love a drink. I'm having a beer as I write this. But I am not an alcoholic and I don't have a drinking problem. My drinking is more like a hobby. Sadly, like all pastimes, work and family commitments keep me away from it.
    With two kids and three jobs I just don't have the time anymore. But that is the natural Kiwi order of things. We socialise over a few drinks and through that we meet people. Business and employment opportunities spring from the partying and, if we're lucky, children do too. Before too long you have no time for the thing that started it all - the booze.

As Oscar Wilde observed, work is the curse of the drinking classes. And, we should observe, drinking can be the precursor to great things.

Campaigners use the terribly behaved to beat up on the slightly naughty. They use the sick to hassle the healthy; their bad experiences to limit the good experiences of others…. Anti-alcohol campaigners turn a blind eye to the good booze does in the community. You only have to go to a restaurant to hear the happiness it brings. People laughing and enjoying each other's company…
    The reality is there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting sauced. No crime in catching a taxi home because you've had too many. Nearly every newsreader, reporter, politician and police officer has.
    There is no shame in drinking, dancing, singing and enjoying the company of other humans.
    Sure you could do all those things without alcohol. But thankfully we live in a country where we don't have to.

For the moment.

But what of the social cost? Domestic violence, drunk drivers, burglary, assault, couch burning and firetrucking. I'm not doing any of those things. I bet you aren't either.
    I might slur "you're my best mate" and turn the music up till it distorts. But I never stab people or rob their houses. Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem not a booze problem.

Come in Todd Carney.

Let's celebrate the good alcohol does in the community. The new guy who becomes fast friends over work drinks. The shy couple who gain the courage to talk to each other for the first time. The diplomats who seal a deal for the country at the bar after a conference. The victorious sports team singing the national anthem after everyone has gone home.
    The law should punish people who can't handle their booze and leave the rest of us alone.

Hear, hear.

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