Julie Burchill: Tell us to drink 'moderately' and we'll just crack open another one


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The Independent Online

Professor Nick Heather, a professor of alcohol and drug studies (ooh – I want that job!) has suggested to the House of Commons Science and Technology committee that drinking guidelines should be updated to include a "binge drinking limit" of eight units a day for men and six units for women. Yeah, that's SO gonna work!

Because when we've decided to throw caution to the wind and get messy big time, we're so going to be checking out our binge-drinking limit on the Government website between shots. I daresay that the likes of Prof Heather have all sorts of letters after their names, but I can't help thinking that four of those should be F.O.O.L if they believe that you can put a cap on the human instinct to get trashed from time to time which exists in many of us.

The thing about the desire for intoxication is that the history of it entirely defies finger-wagging from both right- and left-wing Puritans. The mummies in Latin America and Egypt who were found to have evidence of cocaine use in their hair weren't getting wasted because there had been a breakdown in family life. They all did it because it felt good.

It's dumb enough to think you can tell moderate drinkers what to do, but to us bingers such curtain-twitching is a red rag to a bull – especially when seen from the outside of a few Vodka Red Bulls. We may not be the prettiest, smartest or most cultured in the world, but who score high in GSOH and a healthy contempt for official BS.

At a time when so many sorts of experts stand revealed as know-nothing monkey-shiners, and when the future seems so very dodgy indeed, the likelihood of people exercising caution with their sorrow-drowning in order to prepare themselves for a bright new tomorrow seems about as likely as me becoming a teetotaller. L'chaim!

Talking of alcohol, I was amused to see that Nancy Dell'Olio – the Italian vamp whose main claim to fame is still being made to look seven sorts of fool by that spooky Swede – is outraged at being accused of dancing while drunk by one of the Strictly Come Dancing judges, and has threatened him with legal action.

Kids today! When I was a young whipper-snapper of Nancy's age, we would have taken great pride in being accused of dancing as if we had "inhaled two gallons of Veuve Clicquot". Instead, after scoring the lowest mark of the show, Nance is banging on about having a bad leg and being dozy with painkillers or some such drear.

Though Dell'Olio comes on like gangbusters in interviews, this sort of situation is when you see the difference between the truly confident person and the blustery windbag who breaks just like a little girl (or boy) if someone says something nasty about them. Some of the things that have been said about me in my long, mucky life! And it would never occur to me to sue over any of them – never explain, never complain.

Not even when some half-witted fellow hack wrote a piece about how I was sexually obsessed with Osama bin Laden – me, who's so anti-Islamofascist I make Avigdor Lieberman look like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem! But as I've never cared what my friends, parents, husbands or children think about me, it would be dishonest and bogus to pretend I care about the opinions of stark staring strangers.

Stiff upper lip, Nancy! You're in Blighty now. And take a tip from a true drunk, Dean Martin, who even on nights when he was on the wagon would put cold tea in a highball glass and sip it as if it was Scotch rather than seem a priss to his adoring Vegas audiences. Now THAT'S class.