The Third Leader: Morning after

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The Independent Online

Predictable reactions, I see, to the expenditure of £40,000 of public money on research revealing that "an alcohol-induced hangover impairs psychomotor and cognitive performance". Down here, though, there is some hesitation in joining in with the raspberry blowers and cat callers, and not just because it's so dreadfully noisy after an enjoyable evening.

No, when it comes to knowledge, I am in favour. You will no doubt rejoin with some classically otiose studies, many of them famously collected by the American senator William Proxmire: why people fall in love, don't like queues, cheat at tennis, and want to escape from prison.

Supporters, though, argue that such work provides scientific evidence for what we know anecdotally. Certainty, you see: that rare, vital and comforting commodity in a world where you often don't know where the next drink is coming from.

Nevertheless, I am wary about using the evidence to conclude that the hangover is bad for you. Many fine writers, including the Poet Laureate, contend that creativity is enhanced by the "slightly introverted self-pitying mood that a mild illness can give". He takes Lemsip to persuade himself he has a cold; other artists have taken a more spirited route.

You might also console yourself with all the writers, particularly in this trade, who were prevented from writing by a hangover. Certainly, it prompted one of the more compelling insights into the paradox of our existence, from Dean Martin: "I feel sorry for people who don't drink, because when they wake up that's the best they're going to feel all day."

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