June goes well with alcohol

I cannot bring myself to write another column about the only thing people are writing columns about. How much more can be said about a virus, a lockdown or a government that … I can’t. I just can’t. All I can say is, at least we don’t live in America. Given the choice between a Clicks card and a Green Card, don’t bother looking for me at the airport. I’ll be at the self-medication counter.

What else do we have in common that’s unrelated to the mangled phantasmagoria that now passes for life on earth? A lack of appreciation for art? An aversion to hard work? A hankering for moist vanilla cake? Inspiring stuff. Hold on. How about June? We all have to live through June. April and May were the months of things of which we shan’t speak. But June. Now there’s a word redolent with possibility.

The ancient Romans had it that June was the most auspicious month in which to be married. My experience is that there is no good month in which to be married. November, though, is the best month in which to get divorced. The weather is good, holidays are around the corner and you don’t have to waste money buying presents for someone who enrages you on sight.

Juno, from whence June was named, is portrayed as either a cruel and savage goddess or a kind and loving one. Much like every woman I’ve ever known, depending on how hungry she was at any given time. Juno was married to Jupiter, king of the gods, who was also her brother. I imagine anyone would be a little unpredictable under those circumstances.

Not everyone in the world feels the same way about June. In the northern hemisphere, June makes people want to drink and have sex with each other. Out here in the southern hemisphere, June makes us want to drink and kill each other. Which isn’t all that different from other months, admittedly. It’s just that the onset of winter makes us more homicidal than usual.

In the United States, June is African-American Music Appreciation Month. Speaking from a panic room in the White House, President Trump called on black Americans to show more appreciation for their music and focus less on trying not to be murdered by the police.

June is National Smile Month is the United Kingdom’s largest oral health campaign, which is ironic given the torrent of filthy lies that spews from the mouths of Boris Johnson and his disturbing organ-grinder Dominic Cummings.

Monday, 1 June, was World Milk Day. It was also the day bottle stores reopened after weeks of prohibition. Forget milk. If you drank anything other than alcohol on Monday, you’re not a true South African and ought to be ashamed of yourself. I suggest that 1 June henceforth be celebrated in this country as National Drunk Day. June 2 should also be declared a public holiday. Let’s call it National Hangover Day.

Wednesday was Opium Suppression Movement Day in Taiwan. No wonder nobody wants to recognise them. If there’s one thing the world needs right now, it’s more opium. It should be piped into office buildings and shopping malls everywhere. Stop with the suppression, Taiwan. It’s not cool.

June 19 is World Sauntering Day. I am an accomplished saunterer and would easily take gold if sauntering were to ever become an Olympic sport.

June 23 is International Widows Day, a day for mourning and, for some, a day for celebrating.

No. I can’t do this either. I’d rather pour superglue into my eyes than keep writing about things that happen in June. The plague is the only thing to write about for the foreseeable future. There’s a redundant phrase for you. If the future is anything at all, it’s certainly not foreseeable.

I’m writing this on Monday afternoon after having opened my first beer in what feels like forever. That first cold gush of beery goodness sent my body into paroxysms of happiness. Well, maybe not my entire body. There will always be the odd organ or gland that sits there, arms folded, unwilling to join in the fun. “Here we go again,” they say, shaking their little sanctimonious heads.

I can’t say I’ve felt better for not drinking these past few weeks. Well, I suppose I can’t really say I haven’t been drinking. Technically, I did have a bit of gin and maybe a spot of rum. And the odd tequila shooter. But I don’t count that as drinking. That’s cocktails, that is. Now, beer. That’s different. Beer is a real drinking man’s drink. Look at that. I’ve only had one and already I’m making no sense.

Cursed with a pathological loathing for queues, there was no way I was going to go to the bottle store on Monday. I would give it two or three days to allow the stampede to subside to a dull roar. To my credit, I did make it to 10am before cracking.

The best thing about masks and social distancing is that it makes chatting to strangers difficult. I find chatting to friends difficult enough. I could see there were people in the queue who wanted to chat. What would we say? Been a while, hey. Yep. Thirsty. Yup. Looking forward to a sundowner. Yeah, right. Like you’re going to wait for sunset before tucking in. Haha. How about you? Well, since you ask, I intend experimenting heavily with many different kinds of alcohol and fully expect that, by the weekend, I will have met and married my third wife, discovered a vaccine for Covid-19 and learnt how to speak fluent cat. Never underestimate the power of alcohol.

Mostly, though, the people in the queue just wanted everyone else to think they aren’t like the desperadoes and berserkers who started queueing at 5am. We’re all just normal social drinkers lining up outside a liquor store at 10am on a Monday. Quite normal.

But their eyes betrayed them. Their eyes said they were anxious. What if they run out of stock before I can get inside? Should I become a wine drinker? And the unspoken fear of fears. What if I’ve actually enjoyed being sober and no longer relish that warm glow of incipient inebriation?

I want to turn around and reassure everyone that it’s all going to be okay. That this is only Level 3 and look at us, standing outside a bottle store that’s not shut or on fire. There are no vicious cops in sight, no carts being pushed through the village with a man shouting, “Bring out your dead!”

Life is good! We can buy rotisserie chickens! Our domestic workers can return! Life can only get better from here on. For a start, the giddy pleasures and wild delights of Level 2 have yet to be made known to us. And, if we are to speak of Level 1, let us do it in hushed, reverential tones. We dare not even contemplate what ineffable rewards our benevolent overlords may bestow upon our unworthy heads should we live long enough to make it to this mythical moment in time.

One for the road – do it for your country

I long for the day that we are number one in the world. I’m not talking about jejune frivolities like rugby or cricket, but something far more significant. Not too long ago we were almost hailed as the country with the world’s highest murder rate, but the bloody Colombians beat us to it by a miserable dozen or so deaths a day.

When I heard about the World Health Organisation’s latest global survey on drinking habits, I thought we at last had it in the bag. If there’s one thing we can do, it’s chuck buckets of booze down our throats whenever the opportunity presents itself. And when I say opportunity, I mean whenever we are not in hospital or prison.

And yet, we still somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Top of the log is the Republic of Moldova – the world’s biggest vineyard. Moldovans drink a respectable 18.2 litres of pure alcohol each year. That’s without the mixers. Picture an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with vodka and orange. Now picture yourself living in Moldova. Tempting, isn’t it?

We staggered in at a pathetic 9.4 litres per person. Diluted, that wouldn’t be enough for sundowners at my place on a Friday night.

You would think, then, that at least the binge drinking category would be ours for the taking. The only good thing we learnt from the Germans was how to open our throat valves and pour the filth straight into our bellies without having to waste time swallowing.

Again, we rolled over. Ahead of us are Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and, shamefully, Mexico. Pathetic. If you are not already hanging your head in some seedy bar or over the rim of the toilet, then hang it now. The embarrassment of it all. Those appalling eastern countries I can understand. Life in Kazakhstan, for instance, must be utterly intolerable without being permanently gevrotteled. But Mexico? This is a nation that goes to sleep every afternoon and yet they still managed to out-binge us.

The fact that binge drinking is on the decrease in this country is a symptom of a much deeper malaise. The worse things get, the happier people seem to become. And the happier they become, the less they drink. We may very well one day be crowned the country with the lowest collective IQ, but it’s not a title I would be particularly proud of.

There was a time when drinking was a sport for the whole family. Even the children could be relied upon to get involved. Not any more. Kids today won’t touch a drink that’s not laced with methylenedioxymethamphetamine or some other fancy-pants chemical. Spoilt brats.

Binge drinking takes commitment and dedication, qualities that are becoming increasingly hard to find. It’s not unusual these days to walk into a bar and find grown men and women sitting with just one drink in front of them. These are the sort of people who would sooner run out of petrol than fill up while there’s still a drop in the tank. Many of these dilettantes will even be chatting and laughing as if there were no such thing as closing time.

When I was young (last Tuesday), drinking alone was preferred since company could lead to talking. I have never grasped this obsession with conversing in places expressly designed to encourage intimacy with the astonishing range of mind-altering beverages which mankind has been generous enough to invent.

Now and then I catch myself inadvertently eavesdropping in taverns frequented by congenital babblers. This distracts me from the job at hand and what starts out as a promising binge session often comes perilously close to ending in that middle class masquerade known as social drinking.

The only person you need to communicate with in a bar is the waiter or the barman. If you have to talk, please stay at home or find a park bench where nobody else has to listen to your witless gibberings.

Moving on. In its report, the World Health Organisation claimed that alcohol causes nearly four percent of deaths worldwide. Upon reading this, I issued a far more positive report claiming that more than 96 percent of deaths worldwide were not caused by alcohol. When my friend Ted heard the good news, he rushed over with four bottles of homemade rice whiskey and a small can of soda water.

We agreed there were far too many people in the world and that somebody must be watering down the drinks otherwise surely there would be more deaths. This planet needs to be saved and there is not a moment to waste. The world must be flooded with powerful UN-subsidised alcohol and the drinking age immediately lowered to seven. Police manning roadblocks should be required by law to provide sober motorists with sachets of industrial ethanol which must be consumed in front of the officer before they are allowed to continue on their way.

The report also found that men outnumber women by four to one in what they coyly describe as “weekly heavy episodic drinking occasions”. Ted and I did our own research and discovered that women outnumber men by four to one in rejecting offers of sex with strangers. We may be wrong, but there could be a correlation here.

Alarmingly, there are at least 25 countries that have an annual alcohol consumption rate of less than 1%. These shining examples of what a country can achieve without the deleterious effects of alcohol include Afghanistan, Iraq, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Yemen and Somalia. Someone give them a drink, for God’s sake. How could a couple of cold beers possibly make things any worse than they already are?

Meanwhile, health ministers from 193 states have agreed to try to curb binge drinking through higher taxes on alcohol and tighter marketing restrictions. All this will do is create an entirely new stratum of well-spoken indigent alcoholics and an outbreak of perforated septums as advertising execs are forced to hoover up the dangerously cheap shnarf.

SABMiller, the wheel-greasers of this great nation, warn that higher taxes will force us all to start making toxic moonshine in our own back yards. Thank you, SABMiller, for your concern. I’m sure we would all prefer to drink the legit stuff and risk developing neuropsychiatric disorders rather than ulcers.