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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London