In Praise of Alcohol 175


Here is a record of my last few days alcohol consumption:

Wednesday 2 September Nil
Tuesday 1 September 1 Glass merlot
Monday 31 August 1 Champagne Cocktail
5 Glasses Puilly Fuisse
2 Glasses Remy Martin XO
Sunday 30 August Nil
Saturday 29 August 3 Glasses Pinot Grigio
Friday 28 August Nil
Thursday 27 August Nil

That is a pretty average week for me. Alcohol is among my pleasures. Like a great many people, I find it enhances good times and gives some solace in bad. I am therefore rather pleased that the European Court Advocate General has made observations thought to be generally unhelpful to the nanny state proposals of the Scottish government on minimum alcohol pricing. These proposals would not affect me, given what I drink. The proposal is a classical resurfacing of the middle class desire to regulate the behaviour of the working class. Life is tough enough. People should be allowed their small pleasures.

I have a great contempt for the anti-alcohol lobby, and particularly for the cultist doctrine that the only way to combat alcoholism is total abstinence. If alcohol were truly a physical addiction, why am I not addicted? I have had days where I drink 40 units over 24 hours. And I have periods particularly when writing where I don’t drink a thing for three or four weeks at a time. I can switch from one phase to the other, or any intermediate state, without ever the slightest shadow of a physical craving. My introspection tells me that the standard explanation of alcohol being physically addictive is impossible to reconcile with my personal experience. It is an imposed reality. Alcohol is very good for me. And it is very good for you too, whatever the do-gooders may say.

Slainte Mahth.

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175 thoughts on “In Praise of Alcohol

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  • harry law

    Nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation, but never touch drugs especially with that new craze sweeping Yorkshire, clubbers there have taken to using dental syringes to inject ecstasy directly into their mouths, this dangerous practice is known as ‘E by gum’.

  • Jon

    Davidb – perhaps getting rid of loss leaders would be a good start, though I think that’s a slightly different to the health issue. As far as I know it has been illegal in France to sell anything at all below cost for many years, as it is regarded as uncompetitive (it promotes de facto monopolies amongst large companies that can afford to do it, starving out smaller market entrants).

    I assume France still has this law, and as I mentioned on the previous thread, Ireland is considering a MUP to address this problem in the drinks industry. The industry seems to be supportive, presumably because they don’t like to see downward pressure on their consumer prices. So, whilst fixing this problem is not really motivated by health concerns, it might have a small corrective effect in this area anyway.

  • Cammy

    My grandfather drank 3-4 bottles of whisky and latterly vodka per week until he died aged 93. At 80 he had a medical and the Dr asked him how much he drank in a week. He said a half or full bottle depending on ‘company’.

    Dr laughed and said, come on now Donald…He said aye well a bit mair…couple bottles a week…pause…well i get a wee present occasionally from my muckers that work in the bond so maybe 3-4 bottles a week. Donald then says “Do I need to cut back Dr”….Dr says, “change nothing. It works for you”.

    My father who appeared to me to drink less but was less active in his life died of long term alcohol related causes aged 68 while on a ‘lads’ holiday in Spain with his friends.

    I once asked him in while we were in a boat fishing on Loch Hope of all places, “Why don’t you just give it up”… He shakes his head says “and do what instead ?”….

    There is no answer to that and when he cracked the bottle of Jura dead on 11 as was his want in the boat he winked at me and raised the glass. I had to join him.

    I stopped drinking for 2 years myself once. I said at the time I’d never do it again as it was a strange and alien period.

    Neither of these men nor myself were compelled to drink due to physical dependence. Like Craig I think it adds a sheen to life that makes it roll a bit smoother when its rough and adds a few bubbles when its smooth. I mean, what else are you going to do ?

  • John Goss

    “There are many good reasons for drinking,
    and one has just entered my head,
    if a man cannot drink when he’s living
    how the hell can he drink when he’s dead?”

    I would never advocate drinking. It can ruin lives. A drink can help you forget the troubles of the world for an hour or so. But most people do not know what the troubles of the world are. People taking to the streets are only covered by our media if there is possible political gain (Kiev for example). But who even heard of the protests in Guatemala?

  • Robert Crawford

    MO Stodd.

    One of the big bonuses of Craig Murray’s blog is people like you posting informative links like those above.

    I really appreciate the contribution to my knowledge. Without you all we would be in the dark most of the time.

    Thank you very much and well done for making the effort.

  • Mary

    Alcohol pricing: government ‘dancing to the tune of drinks industry’
    Officials and ministers had 130 meetings with industry lobbyists while government was considering alcohol price controls
    9 January 2014

    Which groups are lobbying the UK government on TTIP?
    24 February 2015
    What unites the British Egg Industry Council and the social justice organisation Global Justice Now? And what puts consumer group Which?, food giant Tate & Lyle, and alcohol producer Diageo in the same camp? It is TTIP of course, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal, which is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the US.


    Alcohol brands ‘pervade’ football broadcasts
    BBC News, Newcastle
    11 September 2013

    ‘Brand promotion

    Alcohol companies spend £800m a year in the UK promoting their brands, but of this, only £200m is spent on traditional advertising, according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies. The larger proportion is spent on other forms of marketing.

    Lead author Dr Jean Adams told BBC News: “I guess I hadn’t appreciated quite how pervasive the marketing is. I thought that [where the money was spent] was adverts in shops. I think it’s so normal we don’t notice it any more, and it took me to stop and count to notice.”‘



    ‘Nuff said.

  • Mo Stodd

    My pleasure, Robert, but one often wonders, since the issue is totally unavoidable anyway, might it perhaps be better not to know about it – ignorance = bliss!

  • Robert Crawford


    Great stuff as usual.

    Advertising puts the wrong idea in peoples’ heads.

    That is why they spend so much on advertising,it pays!

  • fedup

    Good Morning Robert Crawford,

    I am feeling fine this morning, last night I found stacks of jobs that needed to be done around the place and attended to these, instead of lazing around the place! 🙂 Although must admit I feel a bit sniffy this morning but that is to do with the change weather probably.

    You are one hundred percent right, anything which becomes routine is no longer a joy or fun, what is the point having fun when it is not fun anymore? But it is great to know that I can still do what I like when I like and as you put it; “control it” instead of; it controlling me, I stopped sixty a day habit; mind it was not easy but I did stop it and I was the richer and healthier for it, so a change of routine is a lot more easier than chewing my nails/gum/everyone else’s head 🙂

    Thanks again Robert Crawford


    Thanks Jives,

    Wish you luck with your mission of change and hope you will get to change whatever it is you wish to change in your life.

  • YouKnowMyName


    your alcohol ‘anti-oxidant’ intake could be easily boosted, primarily by switching from your White Pinot Gris/Grigio to something Redder, healthier!

    quoting from a 2014 peer reviewed paper[2]

    Over the past decade the health effects of wine consumption have been the object of many studies (as reviewed by Guilford and Pezzuto, 2011). It can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases (Halliwell, 1996; Tucker and Robards, 2008; Xia et al., 2010). Red wines are considered to have more protective effect than white and rose ́ wines, due to their higher content in antioxidant substances released from the grape skin and seeds.

    The oxidative residual grape active components (orac) in wine have been characterised over the years[1]; White Pinot Gris has a typical orac value around 2 and 191 milligrams of total phenols per litre, your White Pouilly (Chardonnay) with orac 3 & phenols 300 mg/litre was slightly better.

    But lets look at the red stuff, your Merlot has an anti-oxidant ORAC of about 17, and Phenols 1500 mg/litre
    Some other red grapes of note are the northern Italian Barbaresco/Barolo (Nebbiolo) with extremely good tannin levels, Cabernet Sauvignon and Spanish Rioja (Tempranillo etc) have good figures too.

    although there is still a debate about the absolute physiological proof in vivo in support of a particular free-radical theory, and the worry related to over-drinking, the health benefits of drinking a few glasses of red wine per day are likely to be five to ten times higher than drinking white wine, and infinitely higher than ’empty’ vodka or cognac. . .unless the super-alcohols have rather a lot of natural cherry-juice added

    sources [1] Sustainable Agriculture Research 2012
    [2] Journal Of Food Composition And Analysis 2014

  • John Whiting

    “When white men first effect contact with some unspoilt race of savages, they offer them all kinds of benefits, from the light of the gospel to pumpkin pie. These, however, much as we may regret it, most savages receive with indifference. What they really value among the gifts that we bring to them is intoxicating liquor which enables them, for the first time in their lives, to have the illusion for a few brief moments that it is better to be alive than dead.”

    Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1950

  • Robert Crawford


    You have made my day!

    I was worrying about you.

    Now I am happy!

    Onwards and upwards.

  • Robert Crawford

    John Whiting.

    It does the same for white savages, does it not?

    There is no one more savage than the whites!!!

    Seen the news the last hundred years?

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    this dangerous practice is known as ‘E by gum’.

    In Aberdeen there’s a new craze for a cocaine/amphetamine mix.


  • Muscleguy

    Craig, minimum pricing would have added practically nothing to the cost of your personal libations. They already cost more per unit of alcohol than the minimum. So your animus to the policy is misplaced and stems from a position of bad understanding or ignorance. Unless you are in the habit of drinking White Lightning, Buckie or bottom price industrial lager your pocket will be picked not at all.

    Alcohol has never been cheaper. It can be cheaper than milk or bottled water.

    We have moved on from the days when drinking small beer was being sensibly health conscious because the water was dirty and full of parasites which the alcohol and stringent herbs killed. The boil deals with a lot of nasties and dirt gets flocculated with the dead yeast.

    But it is very hard to find a small beer (2.5% to 3%), partly because it’s tricky to produce a balanced beer with so little malt and partly because all beers have increased in strength in recent decades. Speckled Hen is still labelled a Strong Ale but at 5% it is no longer strong, just standard. The same thing has happened in wine. Bottles used to be 10-11%, now most are well north of 12% with glasses having gotten bigger as well. All the time prices were dropping.

    Drink your list 30-40 years ago would likely have meant 25% less alcohol being imbibed. Only the XO is likely unchanged.

    THIS is what minimum pricing seeks to change. WM has tried to have an effect with bands of excise duty depending on strength but it has merely paused the increase, not reduced it. Minimum pricing is per unit of alcohol so it encourages reformulation at a lower strength to compete on price.

    Or maybe you think the point of drinking is simply to get pissed and the nice flavours are a side show?

    And finally, if you continue to drink like that regularly and have done so for decades then your liver will at the very least be fibrous. I recommend you get a liver flexibility test done. The results may well concern you.

  • Alcyone

    So Jon, are you ignoring me? I asked whether you meditate and what it is you mean by that?

    We don’t have to discuss String Theory if you don’t want to….but???

  • Geoffrey

    For occasional drinkers like Craig,alcohol may well be good for you. Smoking may well be good for those who smoke occasionally too.

  • fedup

    Thanks Jon, I most certainly shall carry on.

    This thread has reinforced my faith in humanity yet again, human beings can be so wonderful.

  • Fi


    For a clever man, you really have your moments.

    This is one of the daftest pieces on alcoholism that I have ever come across.

    There are actually proper scientific studies on this. None of them involve people noting down their own intake, waiting to see whether they became alcoholics and then, if they are lucky enough not to be, inferring that alcohol addiction has no physiological basis. This reminds me of the Julie Bindel school of theorising on sexual orientation.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Alcohol abuse is a hellish problem in the west of Scotland. It may not be a problem for you, Craig – thank goodness – but it is for many, many families. Directly or indirectly, it also contributes very significantly to many attendances A and E and for a lot of police time. It is one of the main reasons why waiting-times at A and E departments are so long. It’s a complex issue, a ‘biopsychosocial’ issue. It is thought too that there are those who have a genetic predisposition to addiction. I agree that it is not a simple matter of abstinence (and certainly not of prohibition, which was counterproductive in any case). For some, though, abstinence is the only way of preventing social, mental and physical destruction.

  • Tom

    Interesting thoughts. I stopped drinking regularly because I found I couldn’t drink in the kind of moderation that didn’t affect the rest of my life. Even in relatively small quantities, I found I was planning my life around drink and being weighed down by the effects. Nowadays I sometimes have alcohol on holidays or special occasions but that’s it, and I do feel better for it.

  • Jemand

    Whatever you like about alcohol, the fact is that if it disappeared from the face of the Earth, humanity would be better off.

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