Saturday 25 October 2014

Thought Picnic: A history of my conservative view on drink

Drinks exposure
I might well be considered a conservative for expecting people to be able to put one foot in front of the other surely, if they are able-bodied and regardless of the hour of the day.
Generally, I do not have a palate for much drink, I did my share by the time I was 15. I had already done light beer at 10 and rum by 14, all outside parental supervision, but still with guidance.
Cancer exposure
At 15, my first job was in a brewery laboratory, I did a few things from determining the pH value of water used in the fermentation tank farms and the also measuring the chlorine levels of water used in processes around the brewery.
There were lax safety rules because, the senior lab analysts knew o-toluidine used to test for chlorine was a human carcinogen, yet they were happy for this young man to handle it without any protection of gloves or defined processes.
With time, I got to looking at dead yeast cells under a microscope, the ones stained blue were dead, we needed a ratio of dead to living yeast cells to end the fermentation process and start filtration to draw out the lager. This was all a long time ago.
Wild exposure
However, rather than acquire a taste for beer, I completely went off it. The only thing I like was called the first wort which was the first liquid extract from cooked malted barley, before the hops, sugar, salt and yeast were added to start the brewing process. It was rumoured to be a good aphrodisiac, but for a 15 year old?
The grounds of the factory were wild, I got stung twice by bees and once saw a deadly snake slither into its hole. It was no place for the faint-hearted.
Life exposure
As I grew older, where many of my colleagues became teetotal for religious reasons, mine was just because I had no palate for the stuff. Now, I am fine with wines, but mainly with meals, I never drink alone and whatever I try is with almost extreme moderation.
I know to be at home if ever I seem to get light-headed and the once I had a hangover, having had a dry sherry and a port in one night that I was utterly sickened, I have been as well behaved as saint.
I have seen drink do silly things to people, mess up their gait, loosen their tongues and strip away dignity like nothing else could. I do not know what drives people to drink, yet those who seek help are probably on the way to recovery.
Character exposure
The social drinkers however, who appear to think they have no problem and do it to excess with regularity are probably the most dangerous. They would be reckless enough to drink-drive and nasty enough to do the most dastardly things.
I broke up a friendship of 21 years when a ‘friend’ having so stupidly gotten so inebriated in broad daylight said the most atrocious things to me. I had tolerated this behaviour for years until a point that I decided I was not taking it any more. We have not spoken for over 2 years and I do not intend to renew that relationship without a grovelling apology.
Drink should never be an excuse for bad behaviour, it simply reveals what people really are, from the lack of self-control giving place to lasciviousness to utterly reprehensible conduct.
Maybe in that way I am a conservative because I have a very low tolerance for the abuse of alcohol and if you are doing that before high noon, the less said as it leaves much to be desired.

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