A couple of units is just not enough

The guidelines were first created in 1987, and let's leave aside the fact that a member of the Royal College of Physicians' working party that drew them up has admitted they were "plucked out of the air".

The recommendation is that a man should limit himself to 21 units a week, a single unit (for example) being a 125ml glass of rather weak wine.

I do sometimes ask for a small glass of wine, safe in the knowledge that I will almost always be given a measure of 175ml, which is technically a medium. As I knock it back, I think to myself: "Well, I did ask for a small, it's not my fault if they gave me a medium." Very occasionally, I insist on a small – a 125ml measure – and when the glass is handed over, it's all I can do not to laugh at the risible size of it. Therefore, I would like to state in the clearest possible terms before the committee: 125ml is not enough wine. It takes about three minutes to drink this healthy measure, and then what are you supposed to do? Go home to bed? If I were forced to stick to 125ml glasses, I would drink three more or less immediately, thus bringing me up to the daily limit for a man.

That would be enough wine for me, providing I was then going to have some more wine later on – like a couple of decent-sized glasses over dinner.

What I mean by "enough wine" is "enough wine to get me pleasantly pissed" because, my dear parliamentarians, why are we drinking in the first place if not to get pleasantly pissed? What do I mean by pleasantly pissed? I think it's a fairly universally agreed benchmark. It means that one is happier than one was before and more generally tolerant of all the idiots around one.

A quick for-instance. As I write this I am on a train sitting next to a man who is listening to his iPod while in conversation with his friend. Because he is listening to his iPod, he has to shout. A minute ago, he shouted: "Look! A mosque! I can tell by the spinarets!" (Yes, that's right, "spinarets"). Then, 30 seconds ago, he shouted: "My God, I've just realised the coffee and biscuits are free! Let's get some more! Quick!" Being sober I would like to hit him. If I were pleasantly pissed – which takes about three-quarters of a bottle of wine – I would find him amusing.

I submit to the committee that being pleasantly pissed is socially beneficial, which is why I believe your review should aim to establish once and for all: "How often can the average man or woman get pleasantly pissed without dying of liver failure?" Because if there's one thing more important to me than getting pleasantly pissed quite often, it's not dying of liver failure, for the very simple reason that if I were to die of liver failure then I would not be able to get pleasantly pissed. QED. ("Dying of liver failure" also strikes me as an admirably simple concept, whereas the question of whether one might "suffer long-term ill-effects" from exceeding the limits is less compelling. I mean, life itself might be described as the encountering of long-term ill-effects.)

If you don't know the answer, please say so. Or if you're "just making a sort of very rough guess", please also say so. But let's assume the answer is: "The average man can get pleasantly pissed three times a week providing he drinks nothing at all on the other days of the week." That would be a recommendation I would respect. And I might even follow it – some weeks.

Andrew Martin's latest novel is "The Somme Stations" (Faber)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate