The Christmas season will soon be upon us. This will mean different things to different people: many will be travelling to see family and friends, while others may sit tight at home. But what most will encounter over Christmas is far too much food, washed down by even more of the falling over water. Come on, admit it - more than one sherry before lunch, an extra glass of wine with the food, and perhaps something a little harder with the coffee.
No need to ask, waiter, she'll have another
And in January - there’s New Year to come, don’t forget - there will be ample time to repent at leisure, complain about all the cold meat lunches and ad-hoc curry concocted from whatever other leftovers happen to remain uneaten, and take lots of long walks which will have to avoid going anywhere near the Rub-A-Dub. But for some out there, the wine has to flow every day. It’s not an option. And some thus afflicted won’t have it any other way.
Which brings us to Sarah “Vain” Vine, aka Mrs Michael “Oiky” Gove, who has used her generously remunerated column in today’s Daily Mail to admit that she has a drink problem. Except she can’t see it that way. Under the headline “From a warning about drinking wine to cities in gridlock and a social care crisis, SARAH VINE asks why do the middle classes get blamed for everything?” she pours out her heart to readers.
Well, before pouring out even more collapso, that is: “Just in time to spoil our festive fun comes an announcement from health watchdog NICE that women who drink more than two glasses of wine a night should be referred for liver tests … I’m sure I speak for millions when I say that you can take away our cigarettes, you can take away our fizzy drinks and calorie-laden double mocha … but please, Nice … do not take away our wine”.
There’s more: “In a culture so devoid of fun … there has to be some release … And besides, wine is the opium of the middle classes … And it’s not as if we’re drinking ourselves into a stupor night after night. Just enough to take the edge off the day. Two glasses. Maybe three if it’s been a stinker”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, it very much depends how big those “two or three glasses” are.
It is not unknown for wine glasses to be able to take as much as 25cl of the stuff. I know this as I have several of them in the house: one of those is quite enough vino, thank you. Two, for the average woman, would be pushing the boat out and to be done very occasionally. Three would be a whole bottle of the stuff. What Sarah Vine dismisses as “ladies with a mild Shiraz habit” sounds like borderline dependency.
Even if the glasses took a lesser 18.75cl, two would be half a bottle, and every night, well, that’s worrying. And the second problem I have with Ms Vine’s stance is this: the Mail is the most judgmental newspaper when it comes to drug use - well, when it’s the illegal kind. Excuses like “there has to be some release … just enough to take the edge off the day” would get short shrift from the Dacre doggies if it was Weed or Charlie.
But because it’s something legal, that’s all fine and dandy. Except it isn’t. Alcohol related harm costs the NHS £3.5 billion a year, and there is Sarah Vine telling readers to “look over there” at £30 million in “health tourism”. This is not just hypocrisy, it’s an attempt to normalise drug dependency. And an admission by Mrs Gove that she has an alcohol habit.
The Mail and its pundits set an atrociously bad example again. No change there, then.