Thursday, April 25, 2024
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I’ll drink to that!


MOST of the headlines in the Times cause me to move on quickly to the next page but yesterday provided an egregious exception. It read: Heavy drinkers ‘healthier and happier in later years’.

A report by Health Correspondent Eleanor Hayward began: ‘Drinking heavily may be the key to staying happy and healthy in later life, a study has found.’

She continued: ‘Researchers questioned hundreds of people aged over 60 attending hospital for routine surgery about their mood and quality of life, and compared this with the amount of alcohol they drank.

‘One third of the participants were classified as drinking “potentially unhealthy” quantities. This included those who enjoyed a drink at least four nights a week or people who regularly had the equivalent of two bottles of wine in a single day.

‘This group of heavy drinkers were slimmer, happier and more mobile than their teetotal and low-drinking counterparts, the researchers found.’

The German study involved patients with an average age of 72 having surgery at the University Hospital, Bonn.

Its results led to popping champagne corks at Ashworth Towers, where we have long ignored and despised the government’s ridiculously low recommended alcohol limits.

Virtually everyone my wife and I worked with in Fleet Street exceeded those limits by miles – in fact many of them got through the prescribed weekly maximum in less than a day. Yes, there were a few drunks but most could hold their liquor more than adequately and still do the job with aplomb. When the computer age arrived, and sub-editors had to handle keyboards rather than scribble on pieces of paper, this inevitably curtailed intake but at the end of a shift, after working to deadlines under extreme pressure, you needed a few stiff ones to calm yourself down before bed.

After our children arrived, Margaret and I worked opposite nights as far as possible to minimise their time left with babysitters. This meant that our only evening together was on a Saturday, there being no Daily Mail the following day. We made the most of it, enjoying a slap-up meal and starting drinking at 5pm sharp.

Now we’re retired, every day is a Saturday and we definitely come under the above definition of ‘heavy drinkers’. Yet we are fit and healthy, happy as Larry, never argue and go out for a brisk walk every morning.

What I do wonder is why this story was allowed to see the light of day. How could the Thought Police possibly countenance the idea of people enjoying themselves over a bottle of wine or three? They’ll be telling us next that the Covid vaccine was a dangerous, untested drug leading to countless deaths and injuries.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with one of modern life’s great drinking anthems. The sainted Matt Le Tissier, hero of this parish, once said that his life was ruled by the principle ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’. Take it away, Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett. 

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Alan Ashworth
Alan Ashworth
Alan Ashworth is a former national newspaper journalist now retreated to the Ribble Valley, where he grows cacti and tramps the fells. He and his wife Margaret run a website, A-M Records , which includes their collected TCW columns plus extra features including Tracks of the Day. Requests, queries and comments can be sent to

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