Drinking from home
When does ‘enjoying a beer in comfort’ become ‘getting smashed in front of your kids’? Anthony Gladman faces a quarantine dilemma.
Saturday 06 June 2020
This article is from
Summer of love
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Lockdown gets old fast, doesn’t it? As I write we’ve been at it for a little while. Already, bingeing Netflix has lost its rosy glow. God knows what state we’ll all be in by the time you finally read this. Cutting each other’s hair for fun, perhaps. Or devising ways to drive the neighbours insane with sound alone.
Yes, many of us have slipped the shackles of the office. We could be blissfully baking sourdough or learning languages. But instead we find ourselves compelled to continue working from home while also educating and entertaining the kids.
As soon as the schools closed, Facebook and WhatsApp groups filled with ‘helpful’ advice on how to juggle these competing demands.(which is a nigh-on impossible task. Clearly teachers are vastly underpaid and under-appreciated). Some of the advice was bollocks. Earnest uber-parents shared colour-coded Montessori schedules accounting for the kids’ time down to the very last minute. None of which allows the adults any time to cope with creeping existential dread.
How do you manage to fit in essential self-medication amid the demands for tech support, baking, homework supervision and all the other endless needs that kids will present at your feet?
We love our families. But Jesus, did any of us ever imagine we’d have to spend quite this much time cooped up with them? What about the very reasonable need for some alone time? We all need to self-isolate. It’s the only way we’re going to stop this disease from spreading. Please, take the government’s advice to heart.
Find a dark, quiet space — ideally a cupboard that’s big enough to crawl into. Forget about the airing cupboard (if you have one). Its size may be appealing but the temperature won’t be kind to your beer. Look for something a bit cooler. Maybe there’s space under the stairs?
Once you’ve identified the perfect spot, stash your beer in there. Then stash yourself in there. Then drink. Buzzkill busybodies at the WHO have declared alcohol is not an effective coping strategy in times of crisis. Their judgmental eyes cannot penetrate your boozy shelter. Embrace the soothing calm that comes when you blank out this terrible world. It’s a foxhole lotta fun.
You can buy yourself time to enjoy your cocoon by telling your significant other that you’re heading out to the chemist. Most are now operating on the same basis as the beleaguered newsagents you’ll find opposite schools: only two of you bloody lot in the shop at any time. You could legitimately be gone for ages.
You won’t be able to hide your impact on the booze supply for long. The world doesn’t work that way. As soon as you start making inroads, people will ask questions. “Where’s my fucking gin gone?” for instance. Or, “Did you neck *all* the barleywine?”
It’s never good to argue in front of the kids. It’s not great either to blame them for sneaking all the best beers behind your spouse’s back. (Everyone knows kids haven’t got a clue and will go straight for the supermarket lagers.)
In normal circumstances, the British way would be to let resentments simmer. It comes naturally to us. But that won’t do in this locked down world. Our lives are already perilously close to turning into a Pinter play. To get round any awkwardness, why not invent an imaginary flatmate or lodger to blame for all the mysterious shit that happens?
“Oh that barleywine you were saving? Must have been Cheryl. She’s such a selfish cow.”
“Yeah... Fucking Cheryl.”
That way harmony can rein and the adults can maintain their united front in the face of the opposition. By which I mean the kids.
Getting pissed-up in a cupboard may be understandable but it’s not healthy. Not long-term. And we may be at this lockdown thing for a while yet, so you’ll need to find another way to cope.
You’re going to have to see your family at some point. And if you want to continue enjoying the odd beer, the time will come when they will witness you doing it.
So consider becoming a paragon of moderation. Drink sensible amounts and talk to the kids about responsible drinking and setting personal limits.
All parents know (in theory) that modelling good behaviour is important. But here’s the rub: it’s fucking hard work. Save it for the things that count, like keeping sane with a tinnie or two.
After all, you want them to grow up to be the sort of young adults who can get themselves home after a night out, rather than calling you for a lift at 2am then puking all over the back seat of your car.
This approach has the added benefit of rationing your booze to make it last longer. Because in today’s world, who knows...
If your kids are a bit older then it’s time to lean into your role as teacher for the next generation of drinkers.
Usually kids old enough to learn this stuff will prefer to do so with their peers. They wouldn’t dream of listening to anyone as egregiously old as their parents. What could such people possibly know about life? But HA! now they have no choice because they’re LOCKED IN WITH YOU and can’t escape.
This is your chance to teach them about flavours and aromas. You can help them see beer as a drink to appreciate, rather than a vehicle for getting wasted. And more than that, you can school them in the culture behind the beer. Tell them the stories of the breweries. Scare them with the evils of big beer. Show them why independence matters.
It will come at a cost. There will be rolled eyes to endure, and you will have to sacrifice some decent beers to the greater good. But it will pay off. Your kids will become better drinkers, and may even come to thank you for it at some point in the far-off future.
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