Saturday, 22 May 2010

In the zone

Mark Dredge recently made a post on his Pencil & Spoon blog about getting drunk. Now it can’t be denied that alcohol is a drug, and does have an effect on you. Even the most committed beer geek doesn’t drink it purely for the taste. But the aim should surely be to reach a state where you know it’s made a difference, but stops well short of getting out of control and saying and doing things you might regret the following day. This is well summed up by Pete Brown in his book Three Sheets to the Wind:

Yet the best drinking is about a middle state. It’s about having had too much to drive, feeling the effects, being more relaxed, loquacious and funny, but still being a long way off losing control of your faculties, doing anything you wouldn’t do sober, or forgetting your address, your pants or your belief in a basic level of decency and respect...

...What might best be translated as “the buzz” is a state that’s separate from sobriety but just as separate from drunkenness.
He points out that other cultures have a word for this – to the Germans it is Gemütlichkeit – but we don’t.

I have never taken any illegal drugs, so can’t comment on their effects. But I am well aware that the problem with alcohol is that it is like a welcoming guide who leads you down an attractive path, but constantly tempts you to go that little bit further until you find you are somewhere you really don’t want to be. And I’m not pretending I’ve never been there. So an element of self-control is needed, something that was provided by the old-fashioned ritual of going out to the pub and knowing that you would have just the right amount to drink before time was called.

And, unfortunately, the view of the modern-day Puritans that having more than a pint and a half at a sitting is irresponsible lumps this moderate, happy drinking in with gross drunkenness.


  1. I suppose there are few slang terms, such as tipsy, tiddly, merry, or even squiffy, although that's a bit Woosterish. But I agree we don't have a proper word for the state between sobriety and drunkenness, thus leaving an opening for the alco-puritans.

  2. Have to agree with you on the modern day puritans. However, I have to hold my hands up and say, personally, I DO only drink it for the taste.

  3. Martin, Cambridge25 May 2010 at 19:01

    Will you be starting a poll on the diving line between cosiness and drunkenness ? - 3 pints ? 5 pints ?

  4. Might be an idea - how would it be best to frame such a poll? A lower limit, an upper limit or a range?

    Actually, come to think of it, surely there is a perfectly decent although perhaps a bit genteel English word for the desirable middle state of intoxication - merry.


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