How many hangovers have you had?

This article was originally written in 2015. I am now teetotal yet still dance on tables at parties.

ONE THOUSAND AND FORTY. This is the number of hangovers I have had.

Of course this figure is merely an approximation based on a steady average of one-boozy-do a week for twenty years. However this figure does not take into account the debauchery of the Britpop era, Ibiza hedonism or the socialite years, let alone all the why-not-it’s-a-Wednesdays. Taking these new variables into consideration I have probably therefore been drunk around two thousand times.

I imagine huge vats of wine in an expansive vineyard – the town’s entire population gathered in glee to squash grapes with their tiny peasant feet, all working diligently towards the shared goal of filling nuclear bunkers with the finest Cote de Jones.

I then turn my attention to my liver. My tiny, irritated, worn out liver and imagine it as an integral part of the winery process. Imagine my poor knackered liver filtering all that hooch. All one thousand and five hundred litres of it.

Are these calculations worrying? I don’t consider myself to be a big drinker maybe cracking open a bottle at the weekend and perhaps once in the week if I’m in a particularly jovial mood. Saddle me a steer, Jeeves, I wish to get squiffy.

And it’s true that I can’t hold drink like I used to. Over the years my tolerance has stubbornly refused to increase which means I can only manage four glasses of wine before I fall asleep. I say fall asleep- I mean drunk-text any male with a pulse, eat the weekly shop and pass out with a piece of raw bacon attached to my face.

I know plenty of folk who have a few beers after work most nights with extra lashings at the weekend. And I know plenty of respectable mothers who after putting tiny Boris to bed will hastily reach for their 7pm Chardonnay and quite magnificently quaff the lot. Are these calculations worrying?

Alcohol is a relatively cheap, relaxing pastime which most of us indulge in. We get p****, f****, wasted, trollied, muntered, smashed, s***-faced, hammered, wrecked and blasted. We Brits LOVE IT! Up an down the land we gather together at ethanol watering holes and imbibe gallons of chemicals. We unwind after a tough day, whet the baby’s head, toast to good health, cheers to this occasion, or that wedding, or this birthday, or the fact we’re still breathing.

I live a reasonably healthy lifestyle- I eat well, I walk a lot, I’m not overweight and I don’t smoke. At my last medical my doctor laughed and told me I was boringly healthy RIGHT until she asked me how much I drink. “A bottle or two a week… maybe?” Cue ice-cold medical stare. “That’s too much. Do you have a problem? Do we need to make a referral? ARE YOU AN ALCOHOLIC??” Well I didn’t think I was until you said THAT.

After a nice cold glass of Rosé this evening I found myself jacket on, keys in hand, dashing off to the shop for fresh supplies before closing time. I had walked for about five minutes before I stopped dead on the pavement and asked myself out loud: what on earth am I doing? I couldn’t give myself a good enough answer.

So instead I came home and had a glass of MILK. Which was just so much FUN. I’m doing myself a favour and expect I shall thank myself for it in the long run. But for now I shall simply go to bed early and sulk slightly the way a teenager does when they’ve been grounded.

The vineyards will have to slow their production. I retract my teenage mantra of the liver is evil and must be punished.

Steph Jones is a freelance writer and a BACP Registered Counsellor and Psychotherapist. She lives with partner Mike and Ziggy the cat.

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