Thursday, 12 May 2016

My name's Duck and I'm not an alcoholic (Finland: Part 2)

OK,  so I have an admission that I am fairly sure is going to alienate a large portion of my readership: I don’t really drink much alcohol.

In the UK, not boozing daily is seen as a bit, well, odd. It is a great shared cliché confession amongst most mothers that the the prospect of a large glass of wine is the only thing that keeps them going from Operation Get Up to Operation Bedtime. And I get that, I totally do. Friday night is beer night in our house, and it's great. But every night? It's just not my thing.

So this week, a holiday spent with - how shall I put this politely - some seasoned drinkers, has been a bit of a challenge. I do enjoy a glass of wine, and I can actually hold my drink reasonably well.  If I really wanted to I could keep up; at least for the first couple of hours.  But there are just so many reasons not to these days.

I have not drunk regularly since university so my consumption abilities are definitely a little less honed than they once were. This means I am guaranteed to feel rubbish the next day - hung over, a bit paranoid about having said something stupid and generally miserable - and it's a misery that can last a good 48 hours sometimes. No fun when on holiday and dealing with tantrums.

Then there's the knowledge that I am responsible for another small human. What would I do if he suddenly fell ill or got injured? What would I do if I injured him because I was a bit sloshed, as in this scenario from last night: Me: "what happened to his head?" Drake: "I was spinning him around and, err, I got dizzy!" Me: "nothing to do with the three G&Ts you've had then?" Drake: "of course not!"  I don't want to sound sanctimonious - it was only a very small bump and I had had a beer and a "Vodka berry nice" too (our own Finnish invention - Koskenkorva vodka, frozen lingonberries & Schweppes Russchian), but it serves to illustrate why I don't feel comfortable taking charge of a child while tipsy.

I also still breastfeed Duckling when he comes into bed with us at night. I need to be alert enough to hear him when he wakes up, and not so drunk that I end up smothering him / booting him out the bed. Plus I need to avoid inadvertently inebriating him via alcoholic breast milk (though evidence suggests you have to be fairly paralytic for that to be a  possibility). And I haven't even mentioned the abuse of my liver, the weight gain, and the additional grey pallor that a hangover brings to my already haggard visage...

Alcoholism and binge drinking are genuine problems in the UK, but are often overlooked in people of my age and social class because they happen behind closed doors, rather than on the vomit spattered streets of your local town centre.  I know plenty of people who will happily polish off a bottle of wine between two (or sometimes one) most nights, and think nothing of it, even though the NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units per week (around six regular size glasses of wine - or one per night with a 'rest' day).  They do it because they like wine, obviously, but also because it's completely normalised in British culture - particularly middle class culture - to do so. This in turn fuels mockery and teasing of those who choose to abstain or drink a bit more modestly, which I find really tedious. On the first night of our holiday, I just had a couple of beers and A Big Thing was made of this. I know our friends just wanted me to relax and let my hair down (and stop making them feel like lushes no doubt) but I still felt uncomfortable.  So on night two, I abandoned my reserve and got through three glasses of Prosecco, two beers and two hefty gin and tonics, which for me is a lot. And it was entertaining (I was introduced to Cards Against Humanity for the first time and spent the evening with tears of laughter rolling down my face), but I certainly felt it in the morning. It's depressing that I am so susceptible to peer pressure at the age of 34, but I can't help it - I don't want to be the only sober one in the room. They'll have me sniffing glue and shoplifting next...

I'm not some kind of a temperance zealot.  I am on holiday, so I am happy (and want) to drink a bit more than I usually do. I just don't want to feel like I am obliged to drink more than I'm comfortable with every night. I am thus going for an obviously-drinking-just-quite-slowly approach for the rest of the week and will be reverting to my more sober ways once back home, sticking to tea like the good girl prissy knickers I am. Herbal I'm afraid, as unlike alcohol, I genuinely can't tolerate caffeine. My next attempt to alienate my readership - "My name's Duck and I'm not a tea drinker" - is in the pipeline.

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