Wednesday, January 20


I like the photo of my favorite spirit - very 1950s US. Mad Men. I think of my Grandmother in Upper Arlington, Ohio, hosting all-night bridge sessions where my Grandfather stirred a frozen pitcher of Martinis and a pitcher of Manhattans. The following morning, my Grandmother cooked everybody breakfast. Now this is how to drink, unlike these Brits who binge and obliterate themselves. And the Scots, these poor bastards, drink the equivalent of 46 bottles of Vodka each year, or 25% more than the English or Welsh. How do they get up in the morning? The 50 million litres of pure alcohol sold in Scotland last year enough for every drinker over the age of 18 to exceed the consumption guidelines for men every week of the year (source: the Scottish Government). To combat this disease, government intends to raise the cost of alcohol which, today, is cheaper then water on the High Street. They have tried before to great resistance.

And what about the Ruskies who, we all know, can drink. By 2009, the average Russian consumed three times as much pure alcohol as he did 16 years ago. A report I see by Gennadi Onishenko, head of the consumer protection agency, found that Russians drink 16 litres (26 pints) of pure alcohol per year compared to 5.4 litres in 1990 (Vodka BTW accounts for 16% of Russian alcoholic sales). The study calculates that at least 2.3 million Russians are alcoholics, and blames rising mortality rates, particularly among men, on drink. Russia consumes 100% more than the critical level set by the World Health Organisation and an estimated 600,000 die from consumption each year. Yeltsin drank on his death bed.

Raising drink prices a start. Youngsters must be given alternative messages about alcohol and so the media can help. It wouldn't hurt if our role models weren't winos. It starts with the family - myself, I would put these binge-drinkers to work, work, work. These kids beg for it.

My Grandmother would not be impressed.