Saturday, 31 October 2009

It's enough to drive you to drink!

We British are a bit soft when it comes to charities. But many charities are no longer cheerful bands of volunteers but are highly organised pressure groups, often funded by the government. What’s more, journalists rarely investigate reports or press releases from charities because they’re seen as good trustworthy guys.

Charities have changed over the years and now often have expensive overheads like posh offices, computers, photocopiers, lots of staff and executives on high salaries. It’s imperative they carry on raising money to keep their salaries coming in.

I was reminded of this today when I read a report from the British Liver Trust claiming supermarket meal deals which included wine were bad news. I decided to do a bit of research and after much googling I tracked down a copy of the BLT’s accounts, artfully hidden deep in the trust’s website. It appears that the BLT will be spending far more than it earns next year. So what do you do if you’re a charity faced with cash shortfall? Simple… you write a sensationalist report that you hope will attract a juicy research grant or some government dosh.

The report claims that the middle classes are the real alcoholics and most likely to develop liver damage. The BLT claims supermarket meal deals are 'fuelling middle-class alcohol abuse'.

That’s right, some blockhead at the BLT thinks the middle class couples eat Marks & Spencer Dine In For A Tenner meals every night, so that means they’re drinking half a bottle of wine every night. The General Household Survey says that middle class people have a drink, on average, five nights a week. On the other hand, the poor working classes only drink two nights a week.

What these morons can’t work out from that bit of research is that middle class people might just come home from work and have a small sherry or a gin and tonic before dinner. It doesn’t mention that the twice weekly working classes may be young binge drinker going out on Friday and Saturday nights and drinking themselves into oblivion. Perhaps the reason they don't drink on the other five nights of the week is that they've already spent all their money on 100 vodka shots at the weekend.

Sarah Matthews of the BLT claims that selling wine as part of meal deals helps to ‘normalise excessive drinking’. What a daft cow. Anyone who uses the word ‘normalise’ must be a halfwit. Of course it’s normal to drink wine with a meal. In continental Europe people wouldn’t dream of having a cup of tea or a carrot juice with a decent meal.

She also drones on: ‘These meal deals are prominently advertised and make regular drinking seem a perfectly normal and acceptable habit. They are totally wrong.’ I guess they're wrong because she says so? It’s the BLT’s considered opinion that we must have at least two alcohol-free days a week. In that case we better make sure we only take communion five days a week. I bet Ms Matthews is a right barrel of laughs. Remind me to cross her off my Christmas party guest list.

But it’s not only the BLT having a go at the middle classes. The charity Alcohol Concern (a government-funded fake charity) says, ‘People should be encouraged to moderate their intake. Half a bottle a day is too much. These deals look like great value but there should always be a healthy alternative offered to wine.’

I don’t think it will stop there. As soon as these killjoys get their way on banning meal deals with wine, they’ll be having a go at meat. They’ll insist there’s an alternative to meat on offer, something as bland and unseasoned as possible. It’s this sort of interfering, do-gooding puritan attitude that’s making life in Britain unbearable. These complete arses, subsidised by taxpayers, make my blood boil.

In fact, it’s enough to drive anyone to drink.


  1. Hi TM, I agree that most people who spend money on food to cook at home won't be paralytic alcohol abusers. We just like a good meal accompanied by a glass of wine, having worked all day to pay our taxes. It's the '5 pints and vodka chasers followed by a kebab' brigade one has to worry about.

  2. Of course, it is possible to choose - as an alternative to the wine - 2 litres of orange juice, or two bottle of elderflower presse. Or did they forget to mention that?


  3. The other day I went to my GP here in Spain for a routine check-up. He looked at my blood test results. Everything OK except 'Your liver's slightly inflamed. You're drinking beer,' he said, cheerfully because he has known me for many years. 'Yes. I'm British. drinking beer is what British people do,' I replied equally cheerfully. At that point his nurse, who is also his wife, called across to me 'Yes well, the doctor likes his beer too you know.'

    We all had a good laugh and that was that.

  4. Here, BLT is a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. And are there really people who don't drink half a bottle of wine a night? One week it's good for you, one week it isn't...

  5. I think that
    diversity in food and drink
    lets us know what is
    excellent for us or bad.
    Governments have always told us that
    it will do use harm, have they actually
    tried their recommendations themselves??

  6. TM, as much as I love you to bits, I'm a bit disappointed by the assumptions you make in your article.

    I don't doubt the validity of your cynicism regarding the BLT and their funding, but to make sweeping generalisations regarding the alcohol consumption of people based purely on their class seems rather narrow minded.

    I agree that the mentioned research is not clear enough regarding the amounts that people drink when they say they drink every night. But actually, based on the current government guidelines (which may indeed be misleading in themselves - although that's another argument) of 21 units a week for men, half a bottle of wine a night easily exceeds that recommendation.

    When it comes to alcohol consumption, the bigger issue - in my opinion, speaking professionally and personally - is the underlying reasons for the drinking.

    What continually frustrates me though, is the conclusions that some bureaucrats come to from half baked research that leads them to create guidelines and directives that they then beat us - the common people - around the head with. Making assumptions about the choices people make based purely on their class only colludes with them.

  7. apologies, I forgot to add my name to the above post. I think it only fair to be open about who I am if I'm criticising you!!

    Hope your pain is better today.

    Cate x

  8. Geez another bunch of killjoys. If we all did what we were told, ate what we were told and drank what we were told we would die of boredom. Now that would be a waste of life.

    Why would I want to live to a ripe old age if everyone else was a goody-two-shoes and drank cocoa on a Friday night, wore vests in summer, ate nothing nice or wicked and thought a rock night was a gathering of mild-mannered geologists.

    Anyway, talking of alcofrolic drinkypoos, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Allow me to be the first to wish you many happy returns and to hope that your day is fab. I expect some of the staff will be serenading you so I won't do my "cat on the wrong side of the door" impression.

    May your day be filled with balloons and party string and a decent plateful or two of good food. Hopefully you have some goodies left over from yesterday!

    Virtual hug from several hundred miles north, and a flag wave for Mrs TM keeping the home fires burning. Oh and a tickle behind the ear for Pillow-Stealing-Pussikins who I predict will have to be dragged from his new night-time home. :-)

  9. Dear Cate

    Please accept my apologies for not having made myself clearer. I didn't actually mean to imply that "working class" people go out and get smashed at the weekends any more than so called middle class. I rather suspect this shoddy piece of research may have been based around the fact that people who may go out and get smashed out of their heads for two nights a week are young people who then get categorized as working class based on their income. I don't believe for one moment that the classes (a term I hate) drink any more or less than each other. But we must not forget, as you quite rightly point out, that exceeding government alcohol consumption guidelines is very easy to do. A well-meaning committee plucked those guidelines from the air. They didn't have a clue what would be a safe drinking level.

    Do you see the point I was clumsily trying to make? I rather think we’re on the same side here but that a glass of Champagne, two Tramadol and 10ml of Oramorph made me even less coherent that I normally am.

    Once again, please accept my apologies because I’d hate for you to think badly of me or imagine me to be some dreadful bigot.


    TM X

  10. Happy birthday TM. I hope you have a good day. I'll raise my glass to you tonight when I have my half-bottle of red.

  11. Wishing you as happy a birthday as you can hope to have, being suspended immobile by painful bits of metal and forced to eat gloop and read idiot stuff like this. I'd toast your birthday, but they don't have any handy offers over here so I can't work out for myself that perfectly decent wine is available for two Euros a bottle. (Oh yeah, and the inconvenient fact that I had a few at a cast party last night and ended up deciding that throwing idiotic shapes with professional dancers was a good idea... pineapple juice it is - to your very good health, sir!).

    Katy x

    PS today's beautifully-appropriate word was "wooxy". I like it!

  12. Many Happy Returns of the Day, TM.

    May all your perceptive rants continue to be eloquent.

    I need my anti-oxidants, so will be especially mindful of your strung-out circumstances when I drink your health with a glass of claret.

  13. Many happy returns, Traction Man. May this year be a good one for you, that you overcome all health problems, get loads of paid work and become the prime mover behind the change in hospital food. And that you have many delicious meals and as much alcohol as you like.

  14. Many happy returns of the day TM.

    Hope you can enjoy 'your day'relatively pain free.

    Fingers crossed for the 4th.

    Take care.

  15. Happy Birthday!

    But doesn't the research tell you to drink 1 glass of red wine with your meal for better health? If there are 2 adults in the family, x 2 meals that means about 500ml of wine a day. I don't know what these deals are but we always leave a bottle for the next day (thanks to these wondrous vacuum pumps).

    I find this very suspect, as you do.

  16. Happy Birthday TM from a very wild and windy
    Bath ;o)


  17. Happy Birthday TM - hope you and the rest of the TM family are having a good day - lots of love from another of your blog readers xx Gill

  18. Many Happy Returns of the Day!

    Hope that Mrs TM returns with the remainder of the pink stuff to finish (surely you did not finish a WHOLE BOTTLE yesterday).

    Anyway all the best.

    Greetings from wild and windy London.

    Cats' Mother

    PS too wet to go out - all cats have gone back to bed as a lie-in protest of some kind best known to themselves.

  19. TM, cut the PC language mate... (the classes... a term I hate)... and dont worry about upsetting people like Cate... you dont need to justify your comments to anyone.. ( even me?) It's your blog mate.. upset anyone you like (or dislike).. if they dont like it..dont read it
    TT.. an ex working class, failed upperclass, recovering lower middleclass piss-head

  20. Thanks, TT. I have a terrible weakness for not wanting to upset anyone. I can't be obnoxious because that's not the way I am. However, I guess I'll have to toughen up. I worked in newspapers and magazines for most of mylife and you always have to be careful. I must try harder. Mind you, Cate is lovely and I wouldn't want to upset her.

  21. A job in math always has me wondering about alleged statistics:

    I could see why the middle-class might be prone to liver damage, but not because of alcohol...

    If they're defining "middle-class" by middle of the income distribution, earning power (up to a point) tends to rise with age, and so do liver problems.

    Is it also possible that middle-class people consume "get through the day without getting high" drugs at a higher rate than others? For example, many antihistamines and most NSAIDs are liver-shrivelers, and I wouldn't be surprised if middle-class people are the biggest users of these drugs.

    My whole (very middle-class) family has allergies and mobility problems, so we're *all* taking these liver-zappers. We figure, we'd rather be more productive now and die a bit earlier from liver failure than lead a less productive life. I'd say this is a "typical middle-class attitude", too.

    It's possible that, if the Liver Trust is really interested in the middle-class's livers, they'd tell us to lay off the NSAIDs and antihistamines during cold/allergy season, and reach for a little booze instead.

    Which is worse for your liver, fun drugs or un-fun drugs? Could make a nice statistical study...

  22. Correction:

    Just realized -- Paracetamol is *not* an NSAID, but *is* one of the most widely used "un-fun" painkillers, and it is liver-wise, one of the worst offenders, causing more liver failure in the UK & US than anything else, according to Wikipedia:

    Moral: I shouldn't've tried to go all prim dragging out a term like NSAIDs. Shoulda stuck with saying "un-fun" painkiller.