Too much of a good thing

  • Opinion
  • Monday, 08 Oct 2007


WHEN people find out I originally hail from Scotland, they often respond by saying something like: “Oh, the same place as Johnnie Walker.” This is usually said in a tone that infers that I must consume at least a quart of whiskey every day.

Of course, the response from people who have visited Scotland is somewhat different: “The weather in your country is terrible. I was there last summer for two weeks and it rained the whole time.” This is usually said in a tone that infers that I must be responsible for every inch of rain that falls on Scottish soil.

Although I’m not responsible for rainfall anywhere, and only for the alcohol consumed in my own house, I suspect there used to be a correlation between alcohol consumption and rainfall in Scotland. During my childhood, the harder it rained, the more people tended to drink. Instead of hiking around the majestic yet soggy countryside, people were more inclined to stay indoors and cheer themselves up with a dram or two, or three, or four ?

Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. And it would appear that many of Scotland’s citizens are now continuing to drink even when the weather clears a little. According to a recent report, 25% of Scottish men and 10% of Scottish women are putting their health at risk through drinking.

So instead of sauntering along the banks of Loch Ness, where a monster is purported to live, or staring up into the clear night sky, where more UFOs are sighted than anywhere else in Britain, they can be found in pubs and clubs around the country doing the things that people normally do when they’ve had too much to drink.

Alcohol can reduce inhibitions but it also impairs judgment and decision-making abilities, sometimes giving us the wrong impression that we are more attractive to the opposite sex than we actually are, or that we can safely sit behind a steering wheel and drive a car, or that we possess talents that have been hitherto sorely lacking in our everyday, sober lives.

For example, I’ve witnessed tone-deaf Scottish individuals who, after tipping copious amounts of malt whiskey down their throats, feel they have the musical prowess of a professional singer. Being drunk and tone-deaf is never a good combination – in any part of the world. And God forbid if such off-key people get a microphone in their hand. Karaoke and Scotland just don’t go well together.

At the end of any given evening, hundreds of thousands of people will stumble out of Scotland’s pubs and clubs, and stagger home. Afterwards, some of them will swear they saw a monster swimming in Loch Ness, while others will claim they saw a UFO zigzagging across the night sky. Sadly, some of them won’t even get home – one-third of all adult pedestrian fatalities in Scotland were legally drunk.

As if drunken pedestrians putting their own lives at risk, isn’t bad enough, one-fifth of all road accident deaths in Scotland are caused by drunk driving.

So assuming you don’t get abducted by aliens, gobbled up by monsters, fall off the kerb and crack your skull open, or drive your car into a loch, you’ll probably make it home and wake up the next morning with such a huge hangover that you will probably wish you were dead.

Hangovers are terrible things. Your head pounds and the inside of your mouth feels like sandpaper and tastes like the bottom of a parrot’s cage. Direct sunlight will cause your eyes to burn. In such situations, it is always best to stay at home and avoid all movement while lying in a darkened room.

If for some reason you have to get dressed, try to avoid bending down. Be extra careful with your choice of footwear. Slip-on shoes or sneakers with Velcro fastenings are good choices. Laces are bad news. If you only have lace-up shoes, though, sit on the edge of the bed and try to tie them without bending down. Bending down for longer than 10 seconds will cause your head to drop off and roll under the bed.

I’ve heard some folks say that drinking too much alcohol destroys your brain cells, but I think this is just a myth put out there by the same teetotallers who once claimed that alcohol in the blood could cause “drunkards” to catch fire and burn alive.

If that were the case, much of Scotland’s population would be burnt to a crisp by now. But then again, all that rain would probably prevent any fire from catching hold.

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