Alcohol can end up a life-taker, just look at Amy - Argus Monday 27th July 2015

Posted Monday 21st September 2015   By Ericka Waller

SO I went to see Amy – the documentary film about Amy Winehouse – at the Duke of York cinema. It wasn’t fun, like when I went to see Terminator Genisys, though the plot was no less destructive, no less gory. In fact it was so hard to stomach, my poor date had to go and buy a large brandy to settle his nerves. Isn’t it ironic, (don’t you think?). The public perception seems to be that Amy went downhill once she was introduced to heroin and crack cocaine. We all remember that photo of her in those bloodstained ballet pumps, but it was not the drugs that killed her. It was the drink.

The media demonises drugs, yet turns a blind eye to alcohol.

It’s socially acceptable to get so legless, so reckless on a Friday night, that you wake up with obscenities written on your forehead.

In fact, it’s almost deemed a bad weekend if you don’t.

No one raises an eyebrow when Dave from accounts comes in boasting he had 15 pints on a Leo Sayer (all-dayer) at the weekend, but if John in HR was overheard bragging about his home-grown super skunk he’d be swiftly escorted from the premises.

If you read about Amy, the focus is always on her drug taking. Her staggering about with a drink in her hand was just par for the course.

The media ripped her apart for her substance use, but no one laughed at her for drinking, because we all enjoy a tipple now and then right?

Wrong. I don’t drink. Never have, never will.

This seems to annoy people. It makes them feel bad, so they try and justify their drinking habit to me.

I smile and nod politely, but they are not trying to convince me, they are trying to convince themselves.

I become some sort of confession booth, one that they lie in, as if I were an actual priest.

I don’t care if other people drink, or don’t drink, or only drink on the third Tuesday of the month at their darts night. I don’t care how many glasses of ‘well-earned’ wine my mum’s friends neck at 6.30pm.

It’s boring being asked again and again why I don’t drink, as if I am some kind of freak for not wanting to end Friday evening stumbling round with my skirt tucked in my knickers and sick in my handbag.

I don’t care why people do drink, so why care why I don’t?

I don’t say “Hey, how come you have to drink to be able to enjoy a night out?” So why is it fine to question me, or to try and get me to have a drink?

“Oh, go on, it will be way funny to see you drunk” (It won’t. I imagine I’d be the PMT version of me, but much worse).

I don’t stop people mid-bar order and say “Do you really need that second G&T? Let’s talk about it instead?” I just let them get on with it It’s like the whole fat girl/thin girl thing.

It is fine for people to call me a ‘skinny cow’ but God forbid I call anyone fat.

I can’t tell people they drink too much, but people can tell me to try drinking.

If you were to see me in my local at 11.30pm on a Friday night, you might think I was pie-eyed on Jagerbombs because I’ll be bopping away on the dance floor.

You’d be wrong. I drink lime and soda (80p, what a cheap date).

I don’t need booze to boogie. I don’t need to be drunk to not care if I’m bad at breakdance. Everyone else will be blotto anyway and no one will remember. As far as anyone knows, I’ve got the moves like Jagger (not Jager).

Maybe I’m lucky to be confident enough to handle first dates, dance floors and job interviews sober.

Maybe I find them as hard as everyone else, but in the words of my man Shakespeare, “I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.”

I get the mickey taken out of me for not getting ‘Mickeyed’ on a Friday night.

All the lads in the bar know not to bother trying it on with me. They can’t get me loose on the goose. They call me ‘Des’ (ignated driver).

My not non-drinking actually hindered my career. Hard work and endeavour only got me ‘not far’.

It was the after-work drinkies that seemed to seal deals in my workplace. That, and drunken flirting with the MD.

I’d prefer to take a second job as a public toilet cleaner than drink my way to a directorship.

Alcohol abusers clog up A&E beds and transplant waiting lists, whilst our creaking NHS is hit with cut after cut after cut.

Doctors are being told they need to provide a seven-day service. This depressing news will statistically make them drink more. (Physician, heal thyself!) Maybe if Amy’s dad had agreed she needed rehab (yes yes yes), instead of riding on her tiny cocktail dress of success, she might still be here.

Apparently, Amy died bingeing on alcohol watching You Tube videos of her own demise. Could a story be any sadder?

Where is the line in the sand? Alcohol starts as a social barrier-breaker, and ends as a life-taker.

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