Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Trollied Tuesday: Too much alcohol?

How much is too much? Here's a Corkman who eventually drank himself to death, which suggests you can overdo it. Still a local hero along the Leeside, though.

Whiskey make me drowsy,
And gin can make you think,
The common cold can kill ya,
But a woman tell me to drink.

However, two recently deceased drinkers - Dai Llewellyn and John Mortimer - expose the ultimate futility of abstinence. Both were bon viveurs (a nice euphemism for 'raging pisshead', either that or convivial) but crucially they were also bon vivants.

If you haven't read Llewellyn's splendid obituary, I do urge you to read it in full.

His seduction methods were direct and somewhat lacking in refinement: “I am not one of these oily Italian method-pullers,” he said. “Thirty years, and I still can’t undo a bra. The only trick is that I do not waver. I know what I want and so do they.”

Stories of Llewellyn’s priapic exploits, mostly gleefully retailed by the Don Juan himself, proved irresistible to the tabloid press. The journalist Peter McKay, who became a friend, was once having lunch with him at San Lorenzo when Llewellyn suddenly leapt from the table and disappeared for half an hour. “What happened?” asked McKay when his host returned, looking flushed. “Oh, I just remembered,” said Llewellyn. “I left my secretary tied up in the bath.”

I hope to be able to use that excuse myself one day. I mean, I certainly will use it; but it would be good to be able to use it without stretching the truth too far. As for Llewellyn, his womanising was in no way compromised by his prodigious boozing.

The Old Etonian was open about his love of living the high life, which included consuming large amounts of alcohol, claiming to have drunk eight bottles of wine, a bottle of rum, a bottle of port and a bottle of vodka in one night.

Although cirrhosis of the liver and cancer confined the boulevardier to a hospice Sir Dai still relished a glass of wine a day to the very end of his life.

Okay, that is rather a lot. Perhaps its no surprise that he contracted cirrhosis. Note this, however, that it was the cancer that killed (counter-intuitively he blamed the booze for his contracting it, I'm not sure medical science would back him up). A good argument to keep drinking then (as Llewellyn did, until the end).

Oh what a joy, what a pleasure alcohol can bring you. It can be one of life's great pleasures, but it can also cause great downfalls.

Perhaps Mortimer provides a better role model for the drinker. (In fact, someone who resumed smoking in protest at the ban is an example to us all). He started each day with a glass of champagne (the best time to drink the stuff) and carried on with a constant and steady stream from then on in. It hardly inhibited him from having a rich and varied life - but you probably don't need me to spell that bit out. Remember his dictum: "There is no pleasure worth foregoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward." Quite.

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