Ride On


It's been a frustrating day. We planned to drop my brother's bags at the In-Town Check-in then go out for a few pints, before sending him off back home. On arrival, we found that Singapore Airlines close up their in-town check in at 8pm, even though they have early morning flights (8am!) the next day. Clearly Singaporeans believe in nobody staying up past the bedtime of a small child.

Anyway, so we had to come home with all the bags, then go out for a last pint. We headed for the Wanch, where I had been assured that The Bastards were playing. These guys are the quintessential Hong Kong Pub Band. Loud, punk and in yer face. Unless, of course, they couldn't be bothered turning up. We rolled up outside the Wanch at about 2230, and there was no sign of the band. They had made no attempt to inform the Wanch that they weren't going to be there, so there was nothing happening in the Wanch, just the usual desperate Filipinas looking for drunk gwailos.

After some debate, we decided to have a quiet pint in Carnegies. Luckily for us, it was Power Hour (10-100pm Fri, Sat), with beers (and ciders) being $10 per pint. This is cheaper than drinking at home, when you're drinking cider, so we had a few rounds there and came home.

The brother elected to watch a Bond movie from my collection of VCDs of the same, while I made some bread in anticipation of an early start. Of course, watching movies and making bread all consume so amounts of time. It may be that certain among us get no sleep until after the little brother is safely place upon his aircraft (or at least upon the airport express).

After watching the movie, and testing the bread (Wholemeal bread with garlic baked in, slathered with butter and peppered mozarella, MMMMMMMM), I grabbed a book to read whilst falling asleep. Unfortunately for me, it was Jimmy MacCarthy's "Ride On".

This book is very clearly based on Christy Moore's biography. Christy Moore highlights the stages of his life through the songs he was singing and what was happening to him at the time. "This is the first song I sang in public, and I actually remember getting stuck into the drink after performing." His autobiography shows an awakening of musical talent running parallel with an appetite for the drink and the effects thereof. He brings you into the world of a man whose drinking is out of control: "I remember singing this song at a festival, but I can't remember what festival that was", and eventually brings you, the reader, along on his personal journey of salvation, which involved some very spiritual decisions. While I'm not religious like Christy is, having been dragged through his memories, his route to a normal life makes a lot of sense. It's clearly right for him, and he explains how he arrived at that place, and the consequences and effects of his decision.

Jimmy MacCarthy, on the other hand, beats you over the head with "You must accept God and the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous", with the implication that, if you have ever taken a drink, you're an alcoholic. This is an intolerant attitude, often found amongst reformed drinkers who feel they have a mission to save the rest of us from a lifetime of servitude to alcohol.

The thing is, you can be a drinker who feels no compulsion to drink. You can even be a heavy drinker without being an alcoholic. Sometimes you go out for a few pints and end having a few more than 'a few' without it being a serious problem. OK, it might feel like a serious problem the next day, when your head is throbbing, or you may have enough of a tolerance that you don't get hangovers, but you spend the next morning thinking: "Two bottles of wine? Why don't I feel worse?"

I have known real alcoholics. They don't drink too much beer. They don't have a little too much wine. They have Gin and Tonic for breakfast. They can't eat lunch because they're hands shake too much. They don't eat anything, because they get all their calories from alcohol. They die from kidney failure, or renal failure, or malnutrition because their liquid diet is missing somethings. I know at least two people who have died like this.

Abstinence is a poor philosophy in these cases. Moderation is the key. Did you know that a glass of red wine per day is good for you? That having a few beers every now and then with your workmates strengthens bonds with them and is good for your career? That many of the greatest works of art of all time were made by people who liked to have a drink? How about that the worst governments in the world are those extremist Muslim regimes who enforce Shar'ia (Muslim fundamentalist law) which outlaws any consumption of alcohol?

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on September 13, 2003 2:42 AM.

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