Discover what drives a man to drink

The Good Life Letter 

15th January 2016

  • Can you really believe this health advice?
  • Here are two scenarios which question government advice
  • The answer is simple, the change needed is beyond doubt
So the head of health doesn’t want us to drink alcohol.

Or at least, to do so only in extreme moderation.

Just six pints of normal ale or ten standard glasses of wine a week is your lot I’m afraid if you want to stay in the governments good books.


Let me begin by stating my utter disbelief that this recommendation has seen the light of day, and warn any readers of a nervous disposition that I will be using words such as idiotic, narrow-minded and corrupt later in this letter.

Naturally I am not going to go on the defensive for the drinks industry, far from it, their activity (and indeed inactivity at times) has led to a culture of high volume drinking, social anxiety and vile public behaviour.

None of us with eyes and ears can have failed to notice the late night shouting and loutish behaviour which has resulted from drink fuelled nights out.

And woe betides anyone who needs to visit A&E after ten o’clock in the evening – let alone the poor souls who have to work there. The scene is reminiscent of a riot rather than a centre of healing.

Believe me I will return to their part in the deterioration of the nation’s health further on.

But for now I want you to consider a couple of scenarios.

Scenario One – The Man For All Seasons

An ageing (but still beautifully constructed) gentleman spends his morning eating a nice bowl of freshly made pin meal porridge with a generous dollop of Beechwood Honeydew honey in it, then walking for an hour over the fields with his faithful companion in tow.

After washing his muddy pooch down he decides to wander to his local for a convivial pint or two with stout hearted fellows of his acquaintance and discuss the important matters of the day.

After which he returns to his happy homestead for a well-earned cheese and piccalilli sandwich (malted wholemeal bread and real butter).

His afternoon is spent raking leaves in his garden, unblocking gutters and loading the wheelbarrow, basket and house store with wood.

Returning back indoors with a ruddy face he begins to prepare dinner for him, his long suffering wife and three semi tame children – a fine tamarind chicken with saag aloo and red lentils.

Over this fine repast he enjoys a glass of red wine and the heart warming stories of his family’s daily exploits.
In this scenario of bucolic bliss our hero has consumed around six to seven units of alcohol... well above the current recommended amount let alone the modified one.

Tut tut Sir!

Scenario Two – The Sweet Deal

This man, maybe of a similar age, spends his day locked in an office with phones ringing, emails snowballing and endless meetings chewing into his valuable time.

He dashes out to a fast food joint and grabs a cheese burger, large fries and a strawberry thick-shake and eats it on the move back to the office.

The afternoon is pretty much the same as the morning but with extra hassle because the boss he was in the morning meetings with wants the figures producing for the projects they discussed. In addition he has to prepare a proposal for a major infrastructure bid that is being presented in the next few days.

He works late, but no later than normal in fact, fuelled by an endless supply of coffee and Red Bull he makes it through.

By ten o’clock he is driving home, his wife tells him that dinner is ruined and he might as well bring himself something in, so he stops off at the local pizza shop and grabs a pepperoni monster with extra cheese and a large bottle of Coke to wash it down with.

He eats alone watching the late night chat show, wipes his mouth from the grease, brushes his teeth and falls into a semi-coma before his alarm rings at six the next morning and off he goes again... grabbing a filling and nutritious breakfast bar from the paper shop as he goes by.

This man has had no alcohol at all – what a saint!

The big question is... which of these two men is most at risk of major health problems such as heart failure, stress induced diabetes or cancer of the digestive tract.

You can see where this is going I am sure... is idiotic to even believe that alcohol has the sole part to play in the development of cancer, which is what Dame Sally Davis would have you believe.

Taken in isolation I am sure a laboratory rat being forced to drink the equivalent of a double vodka each day would succumb to all sorts of horrors but in the real world man does not live by booze alone.

Allies and Villains

If we are enjoying a truly balanced diet, which includes an occasional foray into the netherworld of the demon drink are we really putting our lives on the line?

Do the undoubted health benefits of oats, turmeric, chilli and honey not have a say in how our bodies perform? Likewise the additive effects of poor food, stress and late night blow outs need to be tallied on the health balance sheet too.

This is why I object to the narrow-minded approach taken by the Chief Medical Officer this week.

Where our health leaders have to be brought up short is their flagrant disregard of the part played by sugar in the nation’s health.

While the great and good were trying to outdo one another with how abstemious their social lives were the real world was hardening its arteries with over processed, over sweetened and hyper expensive pulp that the commercial world was exhorting them to eat.

The true corruption of health values is plain to see.

A report in the Guardian from the 7th January 2016 identifies the fact that cutting the hidden sugar content in our diets by 40% could save 1.5m people from becoming obese in the next five years.

Another report in the same paper identifies how the UK obesity crisis could lead to 700,000 new cases of cancer over the next two decades.
By demonising alcohol the government is hitting the wrong target.

No-one their right mind wants to increase the chances of getting cancer, but in order for the general public to start to do the right things legislation has to be taken to help them make the necessary choices.

Stop cheap alcohol sales in supermarkets please...

...but strike hardest against the commercial companies like Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Pizza Hut who refuse to accept their part in the obesity debate – tax them for every gram of sugar they force on an unwitting public.

Demonise sugar by all means, make it public enemy number one and a source of tax revenue to help support our creaking NHS.

Surely a policy we could all raise a glass to!

Yours, as always


P.S. If you want to read a well written summary of the sugar versus alcohol debate try the Observer Comment column from last Sunday here.

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