January Ends.

It’s over. Dry January is finished for the year.

I am proud to relate that I didn’t miss a single day and I still have half a bottle of Lochlan for tonight. So I can continue February in the spirit of January (if finances allow – once that cheque gets here, February will be securely stocked). Tonight will be another restricted-booze night because I have to work tomorrow. A swap-shift, so I get Monday off instead. Will I finish this Lochlan? Well, I don’t start until the afternoon so I have a few hours yet so… hell yes. There’s no more than 14 units left in there. That’s a children’s portion. A snack, as it were.

If they had any sense or conscience, the CRUKs would have dropped their ‘dry January’ slogan for this year, considering that large parts of the country have been under water for a month. A tad insensitive, I’d say, but then we are talking about sociopaths here. They don’t give a damn about anyone, they just want everything their own way. When they don’t get it, they shout and scream and stamp their little feet, as we have seen.

As indeed we can see again, with the news that an Expert has Said that really, staying completely off the booze for a month then going back on it again is worse than just drinking moderately throughout.

There is logic behind that. If you don’t drink at all, your liver doesn’t bother producing the enzymes that deal with it. Making enzymes that aren’t needed is a waste of protein. So you have a month off the booze, celebrate with a blowout and your liver isn’t ready. It doesn’t have a stock of the enymes it needs and has to try to make some before the alcohol level gets too high.

People who never drink at all can get woozy on a glass or two of wine. If they settle into a routine of a glass of wine a night, it will cease to affect them at all. Then it will take maybe four or five glasses to get woozy.

It’s probably best not to follow my example, getting through most of a bottle of whisky and still being able to type (although it’s often correctly-spelled gibberish at that stage). I don’t have whisky every day, not on my wages, but have a stock of wines for the poor nights. Also, I have restricted intake on Fridays (and tonight for a change) because I have to be up early Saturday. I never drink until late evening, when I fire up the computer, never during the day and I’m fussy about what I drink. There’s an old bottle of vodka in a cupboard downstairs that is for visitors. I don’t like it. If I ever start drinking that stuff – or worse, Bells – then I’ll worry about alcoholism. Alkies are nowhere near as selective as me.

My liver is fine. I’m robustly made. I’ll never be athletic but my internal organs could win medals. In other words, I’m unusual. I almost typed ‘you’d never think that to look at me’ but…

Even so. If I stopped drinking for a month and then returned to my current drinking level I’m sure it would make me very sick indeed. The enzyme levels in my liver have been cultivated over many years but if I stop using them, my liver will stop making them just like anyone else’s. In this case, the expert is right.

The anti-drink sock-puppets are of course out in force over this one. They pour scorn on this Expert because their Experts have stated something else. ‘No safe level’. The New Commandment cannot be denied even though it is logic-free and has never been sullied by the ravages of rational thought. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth and garment-rending among the Puritans in the comments. All without a single shred of supporting evidence, naturally, since they never had any.

Of course, CAMRA are delighted by the news.

The Campaign for Real Ale welcomed his comments, suggesting older people could see particular benefits.
Chairman Colin Valentine said: ‘The health benefits of moderate drinking may explain why you meet so many people enjoying a healthy retirement who still like going for a pint of real ale in their local.

Quite right too. Getting out and about instead of decaying quietly at home is a much better way to live. He goes on to say this –

‘The evidence also shows that sociability has significant benefits to health and well-being. You are far better off sharing a beer with friends in a pub than sitting at home drinking by yourself.’

Something CAMRA did not say when they supported throwing all the smokers out of all the pubs, even the ones serving only chemical fizz, the ones no CAMRA member would be seen anywhere near.

So, they now think socialising is important for the elderly. Well, unless they are smokers. CAMRA have made their position quite clear on that. I wonder if the Mail edited out the last line… ‘Unless you are a smoker, in which case we’d rather you just stayed home and died, thank you’.

Well, anyway, it doesn’t matter. The rise of the pub shed and the smoky-drinky is all thanks to the smoking ban, and more and more of us are finding we can socialise quite well without pubs now. Microbreweries? Lots of us have those now and we aren’t buying tinned kits. Local Hippie Shop sells bags of dried hops and malted barley.

Tesco, naturally, tried to put them out of business (as they have successfully done to Local Fishmonger, Local Lighting Shop, Local Bookshop and others, whereupon the Tesco range drops to basics only) by stocking booze kits. Fortunately their managers are thicker than a thick thing dipped in thickener and given a thick coat of thickie-paint.

Tesco stocked the barrels for brewing beer and the kits for making wine. It was amusing.

They won’t win this one. Local Hippie Shop know what they are selling and what to do with it. Tesco just… sell it.

So far I have only made plum wine but will be stocking with beer-making gear as funds allow. Whisky-making is a risky business, I’d have to wait eight years (three for the rough stuff) before I’d know if it was a good one or a dud. The ones I like best are already priced way above any price-per-unit proposals at the moment and I predict the intended booze restrictions will be instrumental in returning the SNP to the lunatic fringe. They will not see it coming, they are in thrall to the Puritans and believe all the crap they are told.

Booze is fast going the way of tobacco. We can grow it, we can cure it, we can make snuff and pipe tobacco as well as cigarettes. Before the current antismoking nonsense it would never have occurred to us to try and now I, for one, am well on the way to breeding a wild-growing plant. Ready for the day they decide to ban growing it. By then it’ll be sprouting on all the waste ground around here. Might even take a few train rides and throw seeds from the windows, like the Victorians did with lupins. The trains will then help spread the next crop of seeds along the tracks until it’s everywhere.

Likewise, the current attacks on booze have caused a resurgence of home brewing and that is already far more advanced than tobacco-growing. It’s been popular before, all the stuff is already in production. Maybe we’ll see a resurgence in those shops that sold nothing but homebrew gear, like Zombie Shop in Cardiff in the Eighties. It was called that because of the proprietor, whose dead-white cracked face told of a lifetime of experimentation. It was he who told us about coffee wine and nettle beer, and how to make them. Nettle beer is based on nettles (well duh) which are not only free but which are something people are delighted to let you take away. Make sure to use only the new shoots, before they develop stings. Tea wine made use of used tea which would have otherwise gone in the bin and probably should have. Coffee wine involved a little expenditure but cheap coffee works as well as the posh stuff. Not instant though. Ground coffee, at least.

My parents still have a few of my demijohns, they only managed to get two up here to me and a friend in Wales has borrowed some but there are more in storage there. Many people still have them in the attic and second-hand, they are now worth at least a fiver each. Don’t worry about bungs and airlocks, Local Hippie Shop has a cardboard box full of them. If you don’t have a Local Hippie Shop, eBay is now well stocked with all you need.

You can make booze out of just about anything. If it can be fermented it can be made into booze. Sometimes good booze, sometimes horrible booze (tea wine was a disaster) but it’s very easy and can be very cheap. Cheap enough to tolerate throwing out the occasional batch of drain-cleaner.

As with tobacco, the forthcoming ban on booze advertising is something the drink-makers will pretend to be annoyed at but will be secretly delighted. They will save a fortune on advertising and – as with tobacco – the Righteous will keep their products in the news every day. For free. There has never been any need for tobacco or booze companies to extol the virtues of their products to children. The Righteous do that daily too. They pretend that most children smoke and drink already and, well, the rest of the kids don’t want to be left out, so…

While the tobacco and booze companies are saying ‘You can’t have our products until you are 18’, the antis are saying ‘Well, all your friends are doing it’. The antis claim to have the moral high ground. I must be looking at the ground the wrong way up.

Anyway, I’m going to have to produce a new calendar. Drinkuary, Drinkuary, Binge, Alcohil, Maybeanother, Junked, Jolly, Boozegust, Drinktember, Drinktember, Drinktember, Drinktember.

Look on the bright side, Righteous. You get paid four times in Drinktember.

I wonder if, thirty or forty years from now, a new Gandhi will be arrested for picking up salt on the beach.

It’s heading that way. Again.


18 thoughts on “January Ends.

  1. There is no real pub culture in New Zealand. This is best summed by what happens on Christmas eve. In the UK you can’t get elbow room in your average pub on Christmas Eve. I went to our local on Christmas Eve for a meal with my family. The place was practically deserted. We left about 8pm and as I left I asked the barkeep what time he was closing. He said, ‘now’. Ditto New Years Eve. Anyway, as I write I’m enjoying a good beer. No wine tonight as it’s work tomorrow. Cheers.


    • Yep, found it very weird to spend November through February in what they described as a typical NZ summer. Queenstown was indeed pretty well deserted during X’mas, then I meandered to Invercargill to bring in the New Year. Best place seemed to be my motel room!


  2. “My liver is fine.”

    I’ve heard that this is often the case where the individual always eats well……Honest…Seems to be protective.

    Dunno why though…It’s just an observation.



    • Alcohol in excess can cause liver damage, it’s true, but there are things in food that can do it too. Excess fructose in the diet can cause damage. Fructose, like alcohol, is not poisonous in small doses at all. It’s in fruit which we eat all the time – but shouldn’t. Fruit should be seasonal. There is nothing ‘natural’ about a plate of strawberries in January!

      Five-a-day can kill you if you stick to it religiously. In the wild state, we’d survive on meat all winter and gorge on fruit and vegetables when they grew. Some fruit and veg can be stored (in a cave, not a freezer) but even so, they should be in short supply this time of year.

      That variation is what the liver has developed to cope with. Lots of fructose for a short period of the year, none at all for other periods.

      And of course, beer all year round because it’s safer than water and tastes better too.


  3. I’m not after an argument but my limited experience of New Zealand pubs is quite favourable. I’ve had damn good evenings of conversation laughter and boozing in –off the top of my head to name only some–Finn MacCuhals in Taupo, Revington in Greymouth, Victoria Railway in Invercargill, Speights Visitor bar in Dunedin and a fantastic brew pub called The Shakesreare in Auckland. But that one no longer brews the stupendous beers of 4 or 5 years ago sadly.
    I suspect at Xmas and New year people are more likely to be with their families. Anyway all the youngsters would have been raving in London . New Zealand’s largest city by population some say.


  4. I’m really into home brewing since we’ve had our own in-house pub. Only natural we should have our own nano-brewey I suppose! Have you considered making `Applejack’?
    We’ve got loads of chopped apple taking up half the room in our freezer and I want to give this one a go. I saw a fella on Youtube do this – jolly simple – jolly strong…
    Ferment your apple liquor to maximum strength (using turbo yeast and loads of nutrient) which should eventually yield a brew of about 15/16/17% ABV. Rack into clean vessel and allow to clear (using finings if necessary). When clear, siphon brew into 2 or 3 litre plastic bottles (only fill to about 3 quarters) and freeze distil them – i.e. give them 48 hours in your freezer, then remove caps and up-end them in a clean bucket. All the flavoured alcohol will thaw first, leaving most of the water still frozen in your plastic bottle which you obviously remove before it all melts. This process should leave you with about a third of the original volume of liquid in your new bucket, so if you originally brewed up 10 litres you should end up with about 3 litres of ‘Applejack’ at around 45% ABV.
    I presume you could use this easy freeze distillation method with any fruit wine you made if you wanted to rev it up a bit and turn it into a bit of a headbanger. Just an idea.
    If I try this I’ll let you know how it turns out. Happy new year! 😉


    • Couple of thing to note about making Apple Jack: 1.distilling is illegal (or at least the duty avoidance is) in the UK even by the freezer method and 2. Apparently you’ll need to discard at least the first 3rd of what you distill to avoid poisons.


      • Real distillation sends off methanol first. You can avoid it with a thermometer and knowledge. And you really do want to avoid it.

        Freeze-distilling is dodgy. No idea what you’re getting. I have done it but it’s best done rarely.

        As for illegal in the UK, everything is. They have reached the point where it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s all wrong, so you might as well do what you like.

        Only the politicos have failed to realise this.


        • You can avoid it with a thermometer and knowledge. And you really do want to avoid it..

          In the late night television infomercial wasteland there exists a cheapish countertop cooker that claims to let the cook regulate temperature almost exactly. Claims to let you melt marshmallows and deepfry with the same appliance, which would be handy if you wanted to bring a mixture up almost to a boil, but not quite. Even has a digital readout, for that extra little bit of pretend exactness.

          Costs less than a semi-fancy dinner out..


          • Sounds interesting – but I’d use a thermometer too. Cheap temperature control isn’t likely to be very accurate.

            If it can produce the same temperature for the same reading each time – even if the reading doesn’t match the real temperature – it would be useful for all sorts of things. Maybe even cooking.


    • I tried freeze-distilling with the tea wine. It was… less bad.

      It does work though.

      My apple trees are still young. Soon they will be big enough to produce booze levels. It’s what they are for.


  5. XX Maybe we’ll see a resurgence in those shops that sold nothing but homebrew gear, like Zombie Shop in Cardiff in the Eighties XX

    Thy were all over the place. What happened to them?

    XX Even so. If I stopped drinking for a month and then returned to my current drinking level I’m sure it would make me very sick indeed.XX

    See reports about heroin users coming out of pokie “dry” and killing themselves with their first shot.

    As to New Zealand and pubs, and things.

    Try spending three months, over christmas and New year, iced into Murmansk!

    We were, because it was then, and still is (?) a “closed area” to non Russian military.

    We were allowed 200 meter² from the ship. (And the KGB border service made sure it stayed so.)

    Luckily….. (“luckily” ??) there was a dock side pub within that space. Imagine a pig shed with a couple of planks on a couple of hay bales in the corner, staffed by trolls (At least the were FEMALE trolls…. maybe), and a couple (I mean three or four) cases of beer, and GALLONS of Vodka of dubious “Fatherhood” standing around. ALL, of course all at “Dollar price.”(!)

    Radio signals blocked. Could not “phone home.”

    FUCK me!!!

    New Zealand ANY time, even if it IS empty!


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