Desperate situations call for desperate measures… like the prisoner in a British jail who recently managed to get himself drunk on the alcohol-based hand gel that was brought into the prison to counteract the threat of swine flu.
Now, I’ll admit that being banged up in a hospital on high-strength painkillers and antibiotics strong enough to scare the shit out of MRSA can and does limit one’s opportunities for the occasional snifter. Before long you find yourself dreaming of long-forgotten little pleasures like an ice-cold beer on a scorching summer’s day or the delicious blackcurrant bouquet of a fruity Australian Shiraz on a winter’s eve.
In hospital, such thoughts can drive a sane man to the very edge of madness in much the same way as the thought of a clear cold stream of water can finish off a poor soul lost in the Sahara.
For some reason, British hospitals are total no-go areas for life’s little pleasures like alcohol and tobacco. You can have as much Smack, morphine and other opiates that come round on the drugs trolley in the same way that desserts used to be wheeled around restaurants, but mention the possibility of a small glass of cider or a sweet sherry with your meal, and the Substance Abuse Counsellor will be summoned just as soon as an appropriate note can be scribbled into your medical notes.
So this brings me back to the story of the British prisoner drinking hand gel in order to relieve the monotony of institutional life. The old lag in question had purloined a gel dispenser and then mixed it with fruit juice, water and sugar before proceeding to climb out of his tree.
I particularly enjoyed the quote from Andy Fear, a spokesman for the Prison Officers’ Association, who told the BBC:
“We were informed of an incident within hours of the gel being available. In one of the wings it is believed an inmate was using it inappropriately.
“When you get something called alcohol gel you can see what is going to happen. We had concerns when we heard these were being given to inmates. You don't want drunk prisoners running around the prison.”
I should think not, too! No more than you’d want patients running up down the ward smashed out of their minds.
Amazingly, this isn’t the first time that someone has decided to mix a Swine Flu Sling in the absence of any other tipple. Last March The Royal Bournemouth Hospital announced that it was one of many hospitals that had taken the precaution of removing alcohol-based hand-cleaning gel from reception areas in a bid to stop visitors drinking it. Such is the desperate level of life here in the UK that people are obviously stopping off at the hospital on the way home from work for a ‘quick gel’ with their mates. I knew we were in a recession, but I never realized it was that bad.
Anyway, all this talk of hand gel has caused me to work up a perishing thirst. So in the absence of a nice chilled bottle of Chablis to slake my hankering for booze, I think I’ll have a large tot of Purell Gel with my tuna and potato surprise tonight.