Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Teetering towards extinction

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I found out recently that I am dying. Apparently I am also depressed, though I guess one would naturally go with the other. This information was relayed to me in an article I read in a magazine at the doctor’s waiting room which was headlined “No fun in being teetotal.” I quit drinking about thirty-five years ago and according to the article, I must now be at deaths door.

My wife is furious with me. To think that I have gone around pretending that I am disgustingly healthy, grinning from ear to ear, cracking jokes (though usually ones that only I find funny) and showing no outwards sign of depression (except when Winston Peters won Northland) she considers to be incredibly insensitive.

I should have fronted up she reckons. After all there will now be little time left to get my affairs in order. There are wills to construct, funeral services to plan, eulogy’s to compose (they will be short) friends and relatives to visit for the last time and all that sort of carry on.

I must say I do feel a trifle guilty. Until I read the article I was blissfully unaware that my time was nearly up; so too apparently was my GP.

The claims that brought me to the realisation of my perilous position were made by psychiatrist Bryan Rodgers, an Australian - well he would be, wouldn’t he - who studied 2700 male and female teetotalers in Canberra and 9500 non-drinkers in Britain and concluded that they had a higher death rate than moderate drinkers. He also wrote that non-drinkers were likely to suffer from anxiety and depression (well I am now) and were financially worse off. The last claim surprised me somewhat. Just because you give up drinking doesn’t mean your friends do, and my grog cupboard (or should it now be called a medicine cabinet) is as well stocked as ever. Replenishing it is not cheap and I can’t for the life of me see how taking up drinking again is going to put more money in my pocket.

But then again, Australian logic always did escape me.

It is fair to say though that non-alcoholic drinks are not inexpensive either; you’d be amazed at what you can pay for a glass of water in a pub in Wellington for instance. But the good thing about Coca-Cola is that one glass will last you for ages while the dehydrating effects of alcohol means your imbibing friends are back and forth to the bar - and, come to think of it, the toilet - all evening.

Dr. Rodgers was also reported as saying that non-drinkers ended up looking worse. Looking worse than what? I saw a couple of winos in the Cuba mall the other day and I’ll swear I looked better than them, though I admit only marginally. 

This was where Mrs. Long was a little kinder. She thought I definitely looked better than most of the winos she’d observed.

She’s always there when you need her.

But the big question is: will I be there for her? Well according to the magazine article, apparently not. By selfishly giving up drinking I am likely to leave my wife and family widowed and fatherless.

How thoughtless.

The other surprise is that the drinks you substitute for alcohol have always looked to be so darned healthy. Apart from Coca-Cola, and the jury is still out on whether it really rots your stomach, I have discovered some wonderful elixirs and I must tell you about these before my inevitable demise. Top billing is shared with Cranberry Classic and Campbell’s V8 Vegetable juice. The latter is manufactured in Aussie, as are most products on our supermarket shelves these days, which may put you off, but it’s made to the original American formula and it really is a superb tipple. Pellegrino’s carbonated water is refreshing, and if you want to have a drink when you’re not having a drink - given that Clayton’s fled the market almost before it got started - Grapetiser and/or Sanitarium’s sparkling grape juice look and taste the part.

And now a true story from my Licensing Trust files: In the early 1970’s two separate groups of diners were seated in the Empire Hotel dining room. One table orders the most expensive champagne available, the other, some sparkling grape juice. Both beverages delivered by separate wine waiters, both bottles encased in the customary white serviette, and, you guessed it, both delivered to the wrong tables. The group who thought they were drinking the most expensive champagne were so impressed with the smoothness and the ambiance they ordered a second bottle and only then discovered it was different from the first. Those who thought they were drinking sparkling grape juice - probably wowsers like me - were never told of the error. They probably had the night of their lives and, thanks to the mistake, are alive and well today.

There’s a message here somewhere, but I’m not quite sure what it is.

Anyway I’ve got the message. I must get off to the funeral directors and choose a casket. Which reminds me; the man who wrote the “Hokey Tokey” died last week. They had a lot of trouble keeping his body in the coffin. They’d put his left leg in….

“Apart from cheese and tulips, the main product of the country Holland is advocaat, a drink made from lawyers” - Alan Coren


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