‘O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!’
Despite their reputation for reticence and reserve, British people love to drink. Alcohol oils the wheels of British social life – from the rarefied glamour of Royal Ascot and the traditional British wedding to the conviviality of a night out at the local pub or socialising after a day at work.
For many people, alcohol is an effective de-inhibitor, a failsafe way of breaking down social barriers and bringing people closer together. But the emollient effects of alcohol can easily tip into drunkenness.
Social drinkers beware: at the beginning of the evening, drink is the ally of social confidence; at the end of the night, it is the enemy of social manners. One minute, drinking is making you feel on top of the world, bringing a flush of excitement to your cheeks, and lending wings to your wit; the next, you’ve fallen over on the parquet, that flush has mottled and the amusement has stalled mid-air.
Over-indulgence is socially unattractive, but complete abstinence can sometimes seem rude, anti-social and holier-than-thou. The good news is that drinking-without-drunkenness is possible: eat well, alternate alcoholic drinks with sneaky glasses of water, never get drunker than your love interest and know your limits – the graceful drunk is always thinking beyond their immediate environment, alert to the warning signs of impending intoxication, and goes home before it ends in tears.